I’m not ready for this.

On Monday there was a school shooting in my community. At a middle school. A twelve-year-old shot and killed a teacher, injured two other students, and then turned the gun on himself. I only know these details through snippets I’ve read on Facebook because I’m too upset to read full articles.

Last night, I received an email from the school district with information about how to talk to your children about the tragedy, and with links to helpful resources. I suddenly found myself asking my son if he had heard about what happened at the middle school.

He had. And he became very upset at the reminder.

As he crawled into my lap to shed some tears, I found myself getting upset too. Not just about the shooting, but about the fact that somebody had taken it upon herself to discuss it with my child. A teacher who has known my son for two months decided it was her responsibility to tell him.

I don’t think that was right.

As a parent, I believe it is my responsibility to decide what news items should and should not be discussed with my son. I chose not to tell him about the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, and I was not planning on telling him about the middle school shooting.

My seven-year-old spends many nights lying in bed worrying that a robber is going to come into our house and hurt him. I have had more conversations than I can count about how we live in a safe neighborhood, how we have neighbors who look out for us, how we have a security guard drive through the complex a couple times a night. I have had to remind him that yes, I did remember to lock the door before bed.

I don’t believe I am sheltering him from reality. He knows that terrible and scary things happen. But why should he have to lie in bed worrying about whether someone is going to come to his school wielding a firearm? It’s terrible enough that these things are occurring in our society; why should it take away from my son’s childhood and childish thoughts?

I thought about transcribing our conversation here, as I’ve done with other topics, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not ready. The conversation was difficult enough. Even remembering it is causing my eyes to water.

I’m not ready to live in a society where school shootings are commonplace. I’m not ready to live in a society where first graders have to worry about being gunned down at their school. I’m not ready to live in a society where children have access to firearms, parents can’t be bothered to teach gun safety, and they are too worried about home protection to keep everything locked up. I’m not ready to live in a society where I have to teach my son what to do in case someone comes to his school with a gun.

I’m not ready.

And I’m not ready for my son to think this is the society he lives in. Can’t I just let him be little and innocent and a bit naive for just a little bit longer?

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4 comments on “I’m not ready for this.”

  1. Shell

    They talked to his class about it that young? Wow. Not the best move on their part.

    I hate that we live in a world where conversations like that are even necessary.

  2. Cameron

    I’ve been thinking a lot about these things, too, Rox. A 14 year old murdered a teacher in cold blood three days ago, less than an hour away from here, and that on the heels of the shootings in Sparks and the bullying in Texas and the sexual assault of that poor girl in Maryville, and I can’t begin to think of a way to cope with this being the society that I live in, never mind away to accept that our sons and daughters will inherit it, will have to navigate it.

  3. Jamie

    honestly, I wonder if the teachers addressed it because of rumors going around the school. The teachers may have been hearing awful exaggerated things on the playground and wanted to address it. That’s thing about school, 1st graders are interacting with older grade levels and those kids are talking about it, and making it even scarier (if that’s possible.) for the younger children so they can look tough.

    I remember when I was in 6th there was a gunman being chased by police near the elementary school my sister went to and my middle school. (which were next door) There was news coverage and shots fired. We were on lockdown for hours and eventually a police officer was wounded and the suspect killed. I had some friends who went to a school across town, as did my sister and they had heard that the gunman was in the school and some story about a hostage situation and all sorts of other things. My sister was in 3rd grade. The teachers from our schools did some debriefing and the next day teachers at the other schools also talked about the incident, to not only go over safety procedures, but to address all the extremely scary misinformation.

    In this case I think he would have heard about it anyway since it was in our community and kids talk too much all the time.

  4. Malissa

    I agree that she shouldn’t have taken it into her own hands. If a child ask about it in school, or is confronted with it in some way, I think it would have been more appropriate to either , call the a parent to let them know (especially if the child is visibly upset) or send a letter home that evening.

    that said…I’m sure she meant well and it must be hard to be a teacher “on guard” as to what should or shouldn’t always be said.

    I’m not ready for that type of society either. My biggest wish we could find the motivation behind these actions and deal with them.

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