On Friday morning I drove the kids to our local mall to do some shopping and get LP's hair cut. LP asked on the way if Santa would be at the mall as he wanted to update the big guy on some toys he'd like for Christmas but had forgotten to mention the first time we saw Santa. “Sure,” I said, “what did you forget to tell him?” “A toy gun Mommy! I want a toy gun so that I can shoot it at my other toys.” After a pause, while I was considering just how to respond, he said, “why don't you like toy guns Mommy?”. I answered that real guns are VERY dangerous and that I don't think they're something we should play with and he seemed, at least momentarily, satisfied with that. I'm not sure where the interest in guns came from all of a sudden- Mickey Mouse certainly doesn't use a gun on “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” and LP is convinced that the “army guys” he loves to play with are aiming water guns at each other. “Squirt squirt! I got you!” he says as he lines them all up...
An hour later he was on Santa's lap telling him that he wanted a Switch and Go Dinosaur and Big Boots Hot Wheels and could he please add them to his list?
Little did I know that right when I was attempting to explain to LP why I don't approve of toy guns, children just a little older than him were being murdered by real ones.
On Friday, when we got back from the mall, I sat down on the couch to nurse Eliza and turned on the television to watch “The Chew.” Instead I saw headlines with words like “children,” “massacre,” “elementary school,” and “shooting” and changed the channel as quickly as I could. I wanted to know more but my parenting instincts kicked in as LP was in the room and this was NOT something that he needs to know about.
All weekend I’ve been wavering. Ever since hearing the news on Friday about the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary I’ve been hovering in a strange land of limbo- wanting to know more about the events and learn the names and faces of the children and teachers we lost so that they can be remembered always, but also wanting to hole myself up and try to forget it ever happened. I want to know why and how such a horrible thing could have happened but at the same time I don't want to know. I can't imagine it, the horror the teachers must have felt, realizing what was happening. The fear of all of those innocent children, not only the ones who died but the others who were witnesses. The sheer terror and panic of the parents upon hearing that something horrible was happening at the school where their children were that morning. I've been alternating between choking back tears and then letting them flow onto the keyboard while I frantically scan the headlines and the blogs and Facebook for any sort of information. I've had nightmares that my friends' children were there, that they were safe, but that they were there. And I've had moments of panic for my own children- how can I keep them safe? Is it reasonable to keep them home with me forever? Should we homeschool so that they never have to potentially be in a scary situation like this? In the next moment I know that I CAN'T keep them safe forever. It's my job to prepare them for the world, not for a life at home with Mommy where nothing bad can ever happen.
I don't know where I'm going with all of this. Like others, I think there are many things that need to change so that something like doesn't happen again. And I hope and pray that as a nation we can come together over this unspeakable tragedy and make those changes. I hope that the lives of the children and teachers this world lost on Friday aren't lost in vain- that some day, some where, people will be saved because we are doing better. Better at restricting such easy access to guns, better at offering help to people who need it before it's too late, better at recognizing where we are failing our country and our children.
In the meantime, I'm holding my babies close and praying for the families in Newtown who will never have the opportunity to tuck their baby into bed again. My thoughts and prayers are with them and the entire community surrounding and supporting them.
“The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children.” - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Please, let's do something...