What to say
Eldest was upset and offended that some of the boys had laughed during the film. I asked her not to judge them too harshly. The fact that they had laughed didn’t necessarily mean that they didn’t care. It probably meant that they couldn’t cope with the emotions the film aroused in them, or that they couldn’t risk the embarrassment of being caught with the hint of moisture in the corners of their eyes, when the lights came back on.
Eldest is so sensitive and delicate. It’s not easy for me, as her mother, to see her sadness and pain, as she struggles to grasp the horror. I instinctively want to protect her.
We discussed responsibility and Europe, and the Germany and Germans of today. I asked her if she felt it would be fair for us to cast blame, even if it is only in our minds, on a German girl of her own age, for instance. After all, even such a girl’s grandmother was probably only a child during World War II.
I suggested she tried to feel what it must be like to be a German girl, and how difficult it must be for her to come to terms with the past. She understood, but I could see that she was still torn, needing an identifiable target for her anger. But there is none, and I think that is the truth we all have to deal with. This is hard enough for most adults.
How can thirteen year olds possibly cope with it all?