While there’s a lot we still don’t know about the Eagle Creek fire in the Columbia River Gorge, one thing we can say for certain is that the Gorge will look different afterwards. Fires always bring change - both the immediate kind and the kind that will take place over many many years .
This raises the question for us as parents: How we talk about this change with our kids?
First, it's helpful to remember that kids - especially kids ages 6 and under - don’t have the same sense of time as we do. The passage of years so critical to our self awareness doesn’t really click with them yet. Nor do kids have the deep well of memories that can engender strong emotions of nostalgia or loss in connection to events like the Gorge wildfire. Rather, kids naturally tend to be forward-looking because their life is still at its beginning. Their thoughts tend to be on what comes next.
While wildfires are a normal part of the dry season in the Pacific Northwest, in some years, it can start to seem like the will never come to end. The huge new Eagle Creek fire in the Columbia River Gorge makes this year an even more challenging fire season than it already has been.
For some kids, the sight and smell of smoke and ash in the air (and the air quality warnings that force them indoors) might also spark worries, frustrations, or questions. Here are some tips for parents and caregivers for talking to kids about wildfires.
Bryna R. Campbell