I was sitting in a meeting yesterday. It wasn't the most interesting topic, so I turned to my iPad. When I saw this almost fictional sounding Connecticut tragedy unfolding, I stood up and walked out. I went straight to the women's bathroom, locked myself in a stall, and sobbed. I thought about the days that I would go to work and worry about my very young children left in the hands of my very loving and capable nanny. Although she was a Rock Star at her job, I still had day terrors over horrible things that I imagined could happen. Car accidents, kidnappings, etc. topped the list. It's not that I didn't trust her, it's that I didn't trust the world. The bottom line was that my kids were out of my sight, and if anything happened, it was out of my control.
A few weeks ago, the community I work in experienced a very tragic loss. A young, vibrant, smart, and beautiful 14 year old girl was riding her bike on a very foggy morning, and lost her life instantly to a freak accident while making her way to school. The poor man than was driving his truck to work, who I heard sat on the on the curb sobbing inconsolably, was a father of two who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Now, what is left, are two families lives, forever changed for the worse, and forever linked by tragedy. My take away that day was simple and sounds silly. I don't want my kids riding their bikes to school. Ever. At least not for plenty of years after they are deemed old enough. A common ritual for most kids as I grew up, now risky business.
From a biking accident to a school shooting of innocent Kindergarteners, to a movie theater shooting, to a mall shooting, leaving the front door to the places where we should not feel unsafe, now feels like a risk. I went to Target yesterday after leaving my meeting early, and I remember looking at people differently. I was sizing everyone up, thinking that even one young man I had seen, looked suspicious. Our world has changed. I'm pissed. These things didn't happen like this before, they just didn't. Selfishly, as a parent, I feel I have plenty to worry about. These things to most people would appear to be neurotic, overkill, and to many ridiculous. But honestly, in light of the past few weeks, my list of worries has grown, and this latest horrific incident is something I cannot process.
All I could think about yesterday was wanting to get to my children, for no other reason than just to squeeze them. I thought of my first grader in a class of 18 children. I thought that what happened yesterday would be like my son's entire class being brutally taken away from us. I thought of all of the parents in our class, the grandparents, the teachers, the people that just "know" these kids and love them. It is unimaginable to think of the effect this would have, or what it feels like to get that phone call, or to drop your child off at school and not even think twice that anything remotely close to this could happen...and yet, it happened. My heart hurts just as much today. It really hurts. But, it didn't happen to me. But in some way, a very minuscule way, as a parent, it did.
I flipped on the radio yesterday, and I searched for some commentary on this topic. Mirroring some of the insanity of our past presidential election, there are people in this country that are already making asinine remarks about what they think should come as a result of this disgusting event. Yes, people are entitled to their own opinion, but having teachers equipped with guns at school is not a solution and nor is the "removal of God" in public school the catalyst for troubled teens. And yes, it was a Fox News affiliate. The only clear-headed caller was one who was actually in support of gun ownership, but not of semi-automatic weapons and accessibility to these products, which is the common thread throughout these shooting tragedies. The only reason to own a gun like this, it's sole purpose, is to kill people. If you use it for sport, then keep it locked up at your gun club. They do this in Australia. It works. When the second amendment was written, it was the right to load your musket and pack it with gun powder. These are not the guns of today. Haven't we seen enough? This has to stop.
I also heard a lot about chastising folks for praying after something happens as opposed to having ongoing blind faith embedded into your daily existence, or in our schools. Days like December 14,2012, push me more towards Atheism than to organized religion. How the hell can this happen? What God could let this happen and what lesson is worth the senseless killing of children? My religion is my family, my children. They are what drive me, what provoke me, and the reasons that I work hard and want to strive to be the best parent I can be. Prayer in school would not have prevented this troubled boy from doing this heinous crime. I am sure we will continue to hear more about what his motives were as the weeks unfold, but I will not jump to conclusions. Yes, I do find it extremely disturbing that the guns were registered to his mother, but I will not speculate that she didn't love her son, or that she ignored the signs of mental illness. I as a mother am not perfect and plenty of things happen at school with my children that are not always a direct effect of my parenting....at least I hope that's the case.
This is not a political post nor a platform for gun control - although i do believe our country is being completely mismanaged in this area- but just my thoughts as a Mom of two boys whom I want to grow up in a world shielded from unthinkable tragedies such as these. I want them to be able to play outside, ride their bikes, go shopping with mommy, see a movie and exercise their right to go to school in a safe environment without a thought in their minds that something so awful could occur. That's all. So, today I will continue to hug them tightly, tell them I love them and maybe not get as angry at the little things. I know there are 20 families this morning that would give the world to yell at their kids again, to put someone on timeout, or to have a teaching moment. The idea of never seeing their smiling faces again or feeling the warmth of their hugs is an unbearable and painful thought, and I feel a little bit guilty today that I am so fortunate.
I am so thankful for my family today, now more than ever. I am also extremely thankful that I do not have to educate my kids about this horrible event. My 7 and 3 1/2 year old have absolutely NO REASON to know about this, and I hope and pray (yes pray) that other parents will follow suit. Let's keep the innocence. Please. School is not a place to be feared.
There are no words for this, no "everything happens for a reason," no peace of mind. All we can do is hope that people can be supportive of one another and do whatever it takes to make the lives of these families in turmoil a little bit easier. I know there is pain and suffering all over the world, but this happened here, and it is one of the worst occurrences in history. This event just hit too close to home.
Connecticut, I am so sorry for your tragic and abrupt loss, your pain and your unimaginable journey forward. Stay strong for your surviving families and for yourselves. We will keep you in our thoughts.