So much of parenthood is wondering if you’re doing the right thing… Am I reading to them enough, are they eating enough vegetables, am I giving them plenty of experiences, how much red40 dye have they consumed. But after every school shooting I’m consumed with… am I doing the right thing by sending them to school? After each one a part of me feels more and more unsure.
It feels ignorant to think “it won’t happen here” because I have absolutely NO way of knowing that. The Columbine shooting was 24 years ago. Since then there have been 376 school shooting. 46 happened last year. And since Columbine 338,000 children have experienced gun violence at school. It feels like there is no end in sight. We have allowed an entire generation of children to be traumatized by gun violence. (statistics from https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/interactive/school-shootings-database/ )
When you know better you do better. Except for the nearly a quarter century we have let kids go to school and not come home. Instead of taking action we’ve argued about door strength, arming teachers, allowing a place of learning and fun and friendship to also be a place where our children have to think about where they would hide if someone decided to come shoot at them today during circle time. I know every child loses their innocence, but forcing our children into active shooter drills before they know how to tie their shoes isn’t how I imagined it going.
In the late 80’s we decided it was unsafe to smoke while pregnant. It was hurting kids.
I wonder what my children and kids going to school now will think when they are adults. Will they ask us why we allowed this to go on for so long? What will be the result of growing up doing active shooter drills or expecting them to learn in an environment where they’re wondering about their safety. Having to have discussions about mortality and unimaginable evil, with kids who have barely begun to read. I can’t help but feel like I’m failing my kids, sending my kids to school when I can’t know that they’ll be safe. I wouldn’t let someone I felt iffy about watch my kid. But each day I send my kid to school wondering the uniquely American thought of, will today be the day someone brings a military style weapon and decides to blow kids to bits? We know better, we can do better, and most importantly our children deserve better. It’s like the doctor told us to stop smoking while pregnant because it is hurting our kid, and as a country we are just staring the doctor in the face, chain smoking.
After Uvalde, where 21 students were killed, I really struggled – struggled with being on the cusp of having a school aged child. Of getting ready to send him off to kindergarten and really questioning what was best. And here we are again, not even a year later. And I can’t help be flooded with all those questions again. I don’t really have answers or a true conclusion to this post. I know a lot of moms and parents feel the same sense of helplessness, of feeling stuck, of wanting to give your kids the best, of wondering if what we’re doing is right.
I want to encourage you if you feel paralyzed by this to a) stop scrolling and b) doing something tangible. I decided this evening after far too much scrolling to step back from social media, I donated to moms demand action and I went to 5 calls to find my representatives phone numbers and use their pre written scripts to DEMAND action against gun violence, to close loop holes, to put a ban on high capacity magazines and assault style rifles. When the day comes and my boys ask me about school shootings, I don’t want to say well I shared a LOT of memes, I might as well say I gave thoughts and prayers. I want them to know I cared enough to do everything in my power to make change happen.