Menifee Mom: Children Learn Quickly About Realities of Life

By Karen Thomas

My family has been in awe at the way our community reaches out to those in need. With all we hear in the media, it is easy to become numb to the tragedies people face. It's nice to see that when something affects someone in our town, we not only sit up and take notice, but we take action as well.

Normally, I shield my children from news media, choosing print material over television. So much of it is filled with horrific depictions of crime and tragedy that it can cause even adults to live in fear.

I do teach my children about stranger danger, fire safety, and what to do in an earthquake, but I figure those things, combined with childhood fears of monsters under the bed or spiders, are enough to deal with. Besides, I'm still waiting for the day when nightmares will no longer send my children climbing into my bed in the middle of the night!

However, when tragedy strikes in your hometown or people close to you, it can't be ignored. Most recently, we saw adults and children in our community come together in search for Terry Smith Jr. When our worst fears became reality, we again came together to mourn.

When 2-year-old Zachary Nahsohn of Murrieta drowned, it wasn't just friends who flew yellow balloons for him, but strangers as well. This last week, a member in the community put together an event to remember Zachary's birthday and yellow balloons flew again. Several months ago, when a Menifee family lost everything in a house fire, donations from the community poured in.

Certainly if these things had happened in a large metropolitan area, which sadly they do all too often, they probably would have been just a sidebar in the newspaper or a short spot on the news. But here in Menifee, these events were treated like the tragedy they were. Just like in "Leave It to Beaver," family, friends, neighbors, and strangers came together to support those in need.

It can be difficult for our children to see bad things happen, especially when they have been part of a search effort or have offered heartfelt prayers for those in need. When the outcome is sad and difficult to explain, some may question whether involving their children was a mistake. I don't think it is.

Even if our efforts don't affect the outcome, they certainly mean something to the people we serve and our families are changed for the better for having worked together to support a good cause. The outpouring of support goes a long way in helping the people affected to heal and know that they are not alone.

A few days ago, a simple lemonade stand showed my family the value of a simple gesture. I've hesitated to let my kids have a lemonade stand, thinking they would only be disappointed. But in an effort to be supportive and because there was nothing else to do, I let them go for it.

At first it was VERY slow, but after some loud campaigning, a few neighbors came out. Then complete strangers stopped their cars to purchase lemonade and let them "keep the change." It was clear they weren't buying it because they were thirsty, but rather because they wanted to make a few kids happy. (Though I must report that as a result, they think they should have one EVERY day!)

I'm so grateful to raise my kids in an area that has shown such good old-fashioned neighborly kindness. We all hope the tragedies are over for a while, but I hope the feeling of community continues as we show our children the value of small gestures of kindness and that when life gives you lemons....a little sugar never hurts.

Karen Thomas is a stay at home mom of four daughters, has been on the PTA board at her kids' school for four years, and is a volunteer at her church, in addition to her activities as a volunteer soccer referee, a piano teacher, and a runner. Her column will appear here every Thursday. Comments are welcome.


  1. Awesome column Karen-sharing now -prayers to everyone in your community!