Falce: Why my son is afraid of my job
Some moms go to work, do a job and come home and are just a mom again. At least that’s how kids see it.
My kid worries about whether I get to come home.
He is 10 years old, and he’s not allowed to watch the news for the next week or so. In our house, that will be a noticeable departure.
If he watches the news, he will find out about Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post columnist and Saudi Arabian native who entered the Saudi consulate general in Istanbul and was never seen again. Reports Wednesday say an assassination was ordered by his government, and Khashoggi was killed and dismembered with a bone saw before his murderers left the country on private planes. The Saudis deny this.
My son would hear about the murder of journalist Viktoria Marinova in Bulgaria . Despite widespread belief the murder was motivated by investigations of corruption in that country, a nation noted for subterranean levels of journalistic freedom , the local authorities have blamed the attack on a petty criminal who did not know Marinova. The prime minister has “expressed discontent” not with the crime, but with the “monstrous things” said about Bulgaria since it occurred.
My son could hear related stories, like the murders of journalists Daphne Caruana Galizia and Jan Kuciak, both killed in European nations for doing what journalists do.
He has heard stories like these before. He heard the coverage of the June shooting at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis , Md. He knows that a man came into the offices and started shooting. He knows people died, and four of them were journalists. He knows, because he asked, that one had the same job I do.
My son knows that journalists are not popular people right now. He knows, not because he asked, but because he has watched and heard the fights and the shouting.
He cried when he was 7 years old and saw the “Rope. Tree. Journalist. Some assembly required” shirts, not on protesters at political rallies, but at our county fair. The helpful gentleman wearing one explained what it meant, then clapped my son on the shoulder and said, “Ha. Just a joke,” without knowing my son spent more time in my newsroom than some of my reporters.
My son knows that my job has not always been “safe.” He was at his first crime scene when he was 4 months old, sitting in the car with his dad while I went to the police tape to talk to an officer. He’s helped me bandage my leg after I was cut by exploding glass at a fire. But he knows the difference between getting hurt and getting killed.
As a mother, I mourn the fact that my son has drills at school that teach him what to do if an armed attacker comes in and threatens children and educators, but I also mourn that when he came to see my office, he noted the levels of security to get in, and asked where I would hide if a gunman came.
He has asked who he would live with if someone shoots me.
People sometimes think that, in the current climate of hostility against journalists, we are politically motivated when we bristle and wince at words like “enemy” and “fake” and take things to heart. If you think it’s about you, you must be part of the problem.
We just want to be the moms and dads, wives and husbands, that do a job that needs doing, and come home to our families at the end of the day.
I just want my son to believe that will happen. Right now, I’m not sure that he does.
Lori Falce is the Tribune-Review Community Engagement Editor.