Saturday, December 15, 2012

What Do We Do Next?

In the wake of such tragedy our minds head to the obvious question: what do we do next? Yes there are obvious answers. You hug your children a little longer. Exert a bit more patience in situations when you realize you are so fortunate to have a child to be frustrated with. Pray for the families of the victims as well as the survivors who are forever changed due to one unfathomable act of violence. Or many acts depending on how you look at it.

There are so many questions that arise after an event like yesterday's. Are my children safe in their school? Should I home school so that I know where they are at all times? How do I talk about safety with them without making them fearful? Why didn't the school have better security? Why don't we just ban guns in this country once and for all?

I have been crying on and off since I heard the news. I can't discuss it with anyone or even think about it without getting a huge lump in my throat and tears springing to my eyes. What if? What if? What if? I imagine those children doing their daily tasks in their school only to be attacked in the place they should feel safest next to their own homes. It is not a failure on the school's part contrary to what many people would like to believe. All schools have plans in place for unexpected and unusual events. They write the plans, practice the plans and memorize the plans just in case they ever need them. Clearly the teachers at Sandy Hook followed their protocols and locked down as soon as they became aware of the situation. By that point it was all they could do. And I believe that while too many lives were lost, many, many were also saved by the teachers bravery and willingness to act. But how do we prevent the perpetrator from getting in the school in the first place? There has to be stronger measures taken than asking the office staff to monitor who comes and goes. Unfortunately our world has come to needing more protection.I agree with much of what the police chief in this post says. He's right on a lot of levels.

I am the first to hole myself up in my house and keep my children snuggled in my arms. But even I know that that is not reality. I have chosen not to expose them to what is going on. No news in our house. They are young and deserve to stay innocent (as much as I can keep it that way). Along with that thinking, I have to be willing to let them carry on with their lives as they normally do. That means going to school every day and being with their friends and teachers. It's HARD to let go as  a parent and take the risk that something could happen to them on someone else's watch. But you know what? Something could happen on mine too. We can't plan for or predict something horrific happening so we have to go on with our lives and pray for safety for our families. We do need to be proactive and demand that our children's safety is always the utmost priority of whomever they are with, but I truly believe that the staff at my children's school are doing just that.

I know that all parents do things differently. We all have different styles dependent on our own experiences, beliefs and values. But I know that I will do everything I can to keep my children's positive sense of the world and innocence intact. I choose not to expose them to what I consider unnecessary for them to know. Bad things happen. People die. They know that. But to tell them children were killed senselessly? I don't think so. I prefer to make them understand that their job is to always do what they are told by the adult in whose care they are entrusted at the time. If your teacher says move quickly, then go! If you are told to go under a desk, do it! I don't think that they need to know why they might have to do that. If I've done my job then they will follow directions and be as safe as possible.

I'm still processing all of this as I'm sure everyone is. It's time some really look at why these events keep occurring  Prevention seems like a reasonable way to stop the violence.  Identify people with mental health issues and HELP them. Teach people to respect and use weapons responsibly. Model love and respect for our children. Teach them kindness and grace. It is with them that the change can start. We must show them that bullying is not okay. Violence is never the answer and love and understanding can go a long long way. Along with the rest of the world, I hugged my children extra tight last night. I might have even let them have an extra cookie and stay up a little later. They will always know love in this house and in the family and friends we choose to be around them. That is what I as a parent can do.

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