There was an air of somberness today at my daughters’ school. It was as if each of us picking up our children for the day was afraid to even look too closely at one another. Afraid to say that we were the lucky ones with children to take home from school today. I learned early today of the tragedy in Connecticut from a coworker, and it didn’t take long for the rumor mill to start and later for the actual events to unfold to our collective horror.
I am a mother, of course, but I am also a teacher and so this hit me on multiple levels. As a teacher, I go through preparedness training - where to go and what to do in the unlikely chance that something like this happens. In the event of many different emergencies, I have been trained on whom to call, where to go, when to sit still and just protect my children to the best of my ability. It’s something we talk about at staff meetings and never think will actually happen on our watch. Today it happened on the watch of many elementary school teachers, and my first thoughts were about what that might have been like. I have already heard the myriad opinions on gun control, and I will just say that today (or any day for that matter) I have never, ever thought about being armed myself as a way to protect the children in my care. That’s all I can say about that. What I think about first is what we all do as teachers daily to keep kids safe: free from scraped knees, hurt feelings, tumbles on the playground. Not protecting them from an insane gunman. I just can’t…
As a mother, the first thing I wanted to do when I heard this news was run to get my children. My instinct to shelter them and protect them translated into my giving my students lots of extra hugs this afternoon – something I hope my own children’s teachers did for them. The thought of sending my children to school in the morning and not seeing them ever again started to cross my mind and it took me to a place so dark I just couldn’t think about it again.
I had memories of 9/11 this afternoon – of the morning we watched a tragedy unfold and were told from afar that a loved one might have been on that first plane. I had memories of the not knowing – of the thought that someone completely out of our control (someone out of control in general) could come in and take away someone so precious. So many precious someones were taken today and when I see senseless tragedy like this, I am always reminded of what it felt like that on that Tuesday morning in September. It’s true. Today I was a lucky one. I picked my children up today and I held them close. I told them each how much I love them, as, I’m certain, did many other parents. But my thoughts keep going to those parents who won’t ever have that opportunity again.
A friend of mine reminded me of this Fred Rogers quote, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” I’m so glad I saw this because it has been what kept me going today. There are helpers out there. I am a helper…and I would guess that you are, too. We all just need reminders that there are more people who are kind and loving and who want to keep our kids safe than there are crazed lunatics who will harm them. I know this goes without saying, but I hope you hug your children. Tell them you love them. Then, hug and tell them a second time for all of the parents in Connecticut who won’t ever have that chance again.