Blaise Tapp: Inevitable questions from our children about the war in Ukraine

This week, like pretty much everybody else with a telly and mobile phone, I’ve been transfixed on the horrors that are unfolding in Ukraine.

By Jane Chippindale
Tuesday, 1st March 2022, 3:00 pm

Blaise Tapp writes: I have lived through many faraway wars and, from the comfort of both my armchair and various newsdesks have witnessed soldiers invade various foreign lands but this feels different. Although all the warning signs were there, the news early last Thursday morning that Putin had ordered an invasion of his neighbour was still a huge shock.

We’ve long sniggered at his penchant for posing for state-vetted cameras bare chested, not to mention his comically oversized white summit table, but we didn’t actually think that the preposterous Russian president would actually give the green light to starting a war in Europe. Now the universal fear is where and when will this madness stop.

Apart from changing our social media avatars to yellow and blue and posting about ‘thoughts and prayers’ there is very little that most of us can do, other than consume the excellent reporting that is being brought to us via a variety of mediums. Being of an age that I can no longer sleep through without at least one visit to the smallest room, I’ve found myself checking my phone at 3am for the latest updates from the frontline.

This general view shows the damaged local city hall of Kharkiv on March 1. Photo: Getty Images

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    Quite rightly, it has been the only story that most of us genuinely care about because, as far as recent conflicts go, this is on our doorstep, not to mention the fact that the aggressor is a nuclear superpower. In 2022, 1,400 miles - the distance between the UK and Ukraine - isn’t really that far.

    I’m happy to admit that until recently, I knew very little about the huge country that dominates much of the East of our continent, but like millions of others, I’ve given myself a crash course on its geography and history and it is of little surprise that its citizens are showing such extraordinary resolve in the face of appalling adversity.

    If nothing else, this outrage enables us to put our own personal troubles into some context. Moaning about Boris Johnson making us all go back into the office, albeit occasionally, or that the cost of petrol is at an all-time high seem pretty trivial when you consider the hell that millions of Ukrainians are enduring right now.

    Yes, we all have commitments and a responsibility to get on with our lives but I have been struck by more than one or two pangs of guilt about getting stressed about household bills or yet another dog doing its business outside the front of our house.

    Many parents, like me, have had to deal with the inevitable questions from our children, who have genuine concerns about what this war means for them. Having to explain to a 12-year-old what sanctions are and why they might prove to be important shows that this is an issue that straddles the generations and debunks the myth that news of any importance is out of reach of the youngest in society.

    Having to convince your children that World War Three isn’t imminent is easier said than done when nobody knows for sure what is going through Putin’s mind. As a parent, all you really want is for your kids to be happy and enjoy their childhood but the reality of the situation in Ukraine makes this very difficult when you consider that many have easy access to wall-to-wall media. As somebody who lives and breathes news, I really hope that my kids live their lives with their eyes wide open to the bigger picture and understand not only what is going on outside their own doorstep but also in the wider world.

    In an era of incredible news events, the atrocity of the Russian invasion could be the most significant of them all and there is little else we can do but watch in horror.

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