Ancient History

Follow Me?


Child in peril

Aidan watched the saga of the balloon boy on TV.

She sat on the living room floor, captured by the dizzying shots taken by news helicopters circling around and around. Tethers dangled below the craft and local news teams took care to speculate how they could become ensnared power lines and radio towers.

Could a little boy survive being tumbled, frozen, deprived of oxygen? The head weather anchor told a grim tales of increasing gusts. A hot air balloon expert was tracked down and interviewed by phone. He was doubtful anyone was inside, judging by the way it was moving. Actual science was invoked.

The anchors ended the interview quickly.

The contraption began to lose altitude. A chain of emergency vehicles traced dusty county roads. It was going to land in an open field of dull brown earth, plowed in tidy lines.

Aidan watched, still and intent. This was her first experience with Child In Peril Breaking News. I briefly considered protecting her from what she might see. It could end with the lifeless little body of a boy the same age as one of her brothers. Or, she might witness a miracle.

I watched Baby Jessica be pulled from the well when I was a child. She was alive and bandaged and whisked away in a torrent of happy tears.

But what if Baby Jessica hadn’t survived?

The craft landed. Men ran.

The dirt was thick and soft, slowing their feet. They got to the craft and stood with hands on their hips. Nobody tried to claw it open right away. One man began to shovel next to the craft. Another threw a rope up and over the top.

The news noted they didn’t want it to take off again.

It was no larger than an obnoxiously big balloon tethered outside a used car dealership. The only thing missing was an inflatable gorilla holding the end.

The reason they weren’t frantically tearing the craft apart was because they realized nobody could be inside a Jiffy Pop bag.

“The boy isn’t inside.” Aidan noted.

I agreed.

She continued: She never believed he was inside. It didn’t make sense to her. How dumb. But I saw her face as it unfolded. She cared.

Aidan has joined the ranks of many of us, who find hearts and brains at odds when we watch what the media presents as fact.

When the balloon expert doubted anyone was inside, his interview was cut short. It didn’t fit the narrative they were building. If nobody was inside, why would viewers want to spend 2 hours watching a big balloon float over the prairie of eastern Colorado? Throw in the growling gorilla with a BIG DEALS sash? I still wouldn’t watch.

I’m glad I allowed Aidan to watch. Maybe she will learn from an early age to be savvy about these things. I want her to take what she hears and run it though a filter of skepticism and logic.

I never want her to lose her heart in the process, though.

Is that an impossible balance?

5 comments to Child in peril

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>