Child explains life with first-responder parents

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My name is Skyler Zirbel. I am 10 years old, and my mom is a police officer, and my dad is a firefighter. In fact, that is what I am writing about.

~Dedicated to my amazing parents, Karen and Robert Zirbel, and all the other first responders out there. Thank you for your service.~

Having both parents as first responders is very scary. I mean, once my parents leave, they might never come back. That one good-bye before they left could’ve been the last good-bye. And, the thing is, it’s not just scary at a time like this, where a scary virus is going around, and they are some of the people that work for the few jobs that still work during the pandemic. It is scary all the time.

I remember one night, my dad getting a call around midnight. But it wasn’t a call from a family member, or a friend checking in on him. It was a call from the fire department. One of his friends had died.

My mom’s friend died too. And although I don’t even know those people who died, it’s still sad. But thinking about my parents dying… now that’s just one hundred times worse.

Now, I know that I am terrified of them dying, or even getting hurt, but then I think about how they might feel. 

My parents always say they do it for our family. For nice family vacations, and amazing things. But I much rather have my parents safe than going on a family vacation. 

If there is one word that would never describe my parents, it is selfish. They risk their lives for others. Which, sometimes, I get mad at.

I am not going to lie, I am not selfish. It’s just, sometimes, I wish my parents would put themselves first. I love that they are willing to put their own lives at stake for other lives, and that shows that they are truly good people.

Either way, my parents are amazing people, and twice as amazing as parents. I know what they do is very dangerous, and something I would never be able to do.

Mid-Hudson News has launched a “Student Journalist” section to allow elementary, middle, and high-school students to write essays or “news as they see it” for submission. 

If you have a student that is interested in writing a submission, please send an email to Todd Bender at and ask for the submission requirements.

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