WATERTOWN, Mass. — "How was your vacation?'
It's the most popular question asked on a Monday after a school vacation week. For many children and families, the phrases "bombing,' "lockdown' and "manhunt' will play a large role in their April 2013 spring break narratives.
Monday's Boston Marathon bombings led to an intense week-long investigation, putting hundreds of armed authorities on streets while residents were given orders to stay inside. The search ended Friday night with a suspect in custody after a gunfire-filled standoff in a residential neighborhood.
Four people died, one suspect was killed and 176 others were injured, including 17 critically.
Some teachers and parents said they planned to discuss the topic frankly when school resumes Monday, while others were still working through how to handle the tragic events.
Julie Kuo, a Brighton resident who teaches U.S. history, law and journalism classes at Lexington High School, is preparing to meet students for the first time since the explosions and is certain there will be questions.
"I have been thinking about it all week, but I'm not sure how I'm going to approach it yet. There are a lot of variables because you're dealing with kids and emotions and trauma. I don't know what they've seen,' said Kuo.
"At the same time, so much can be talked about, from civil liberties to safety to Miranda rights,' Kuo said. "There are so many things to be considered.'
The Myler family lives on Palfrey Street, less than a mile from where bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, was captured on Franklin Street late Friday. Janice Myler said her daughter, Kate, a sixth-grader, was staying with family in Hingham, a town in the Greater Boston area. She called her sister asking her daughter not watch the news.
"My sister said, ' I think it's a little too late,'' Janice Myler said.
Many parents tried to shield their children from the violence and graphic images but events have been inescapable.
"We never thought it would end up in our neighborhood,' Bill Chosiad said.
He and his family live on Franklin Street about eight houses from where the standoff occurred.
Chosiad said the neighborhood is filled with families and young children.
His son, Alec Baskin, is a third-grader at Hosmer Elementary School, which is less than a mile from the crime scene.
Chosiad, a Harvard University employee, said he realized the severity of the situation Friday when his family members looked out their windows.
"There were men with helmets and machine guns in our yard,' Chosiad said.
It was a long day indoors. Alec played video games, while Chosiad did house cleaning.
In the evening Chosiad walked a few blocks to water flowers for neighbors who were on vacation.
On his way back, gunfire broke out and Chosiad couldn't get home because of police barricades.
They family kept in touch by cell phone.
Chosiad asked his son, "Where were you guys when that happened?'
"We were in the bedroom eating apples, but I burrowed under the covers,' Alec said.
"I felt terrible I couldn't be there with them,' Chosiad said.
The Franklin Street area Saturday was teeming with adults, children and teenagers interested in seeing the scene. For some, it was a way of coming to terms with the events.
Robert Broadway of Roxbury brought his daughters Halena, 9, and Haniyah, 10, outfitted with a video camera, a still camera and microphones. As strange as it seems, by letting the girls play reporters, Broadway said it's a way for them to gain "life experience.'
"They learn to ask questions and learn what's going on. This is just something for us to learn as a family,' he said.
Asked what she knew of the scene she was recording, Haniyah said, "Well, there was a guy who was 19. He did something bad that hurt people. He hid here in a boat, and the police captured him.'
Asked what other youngsters might think about this news, Halena said, "I think some kids will understand. I mean, I understand why people had to stay inside. But I think other kids will be scared or not understand.'
Janine Whitter Richardson brought her daughter, Briana, 14, to the media staging area at the corner of Franklin and Washburn streets Saturday.
"I'm hoping it brings her some closure,' the mother said.
Briana said the week started like a typical spring break. She and her mother went to see the new Jackie Robinson biopic, "42' Monday.
With talks of lockdowns in other major cities, they scrapped their plans to visit New York City.
"We ended up staying inside a lot. It kind of spoiled spring break and it was stressful because everyone was calling us,' Briana said.
Fear set in when the family received an automated phone call warning them to stay indoors while police searched for a suspect.
"It was so scary,' Briana said.
"People were freaking out because that's where we hang out,' Briana added.
"It's very unnerving for a young girl and other people her age, even though they're the older kids,' said Whitter Richardson. "It's important to kids at any age to feel safe.'
While visiting the crime scene, Briana said she felt a little bit better. She even snapped a few photos.
"But I know it's not exactly over yet,' Briana said. "I know there's going to be a trial and people are going to have questions. Everyone's going to be talking about it at school on Monday. It's like, did this really happen? I'm still a little nervous.'