Once again America sits in silence, stunned by another school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. At the time of this blog, 17 people have been pronounced dead.
That is at least 17 families that sent their child/children or mate to school today on February 14, 2018, Valentine’s Day, a day that is supposed to be a day of love, and their child/children or mate is not coming home.
Ironically, today I was at work, and my daughter called me as she was heading into her job and said, “I don’t know how long I am going to be here.”
“Why?” I asked.
She said, “A man is in the parking lot shooting, breaking car windows and went to the pharmacy and held a gun to them.”
My heart dropped. I screamed, “Leave the store!”
Then I wondered was I sending her to a parking lot with an active shooter? A million thoughts ran through my mind. I thought of my daughter hiding in a store freezer; my daughter found dead in a grocery store. What was the last thing I said to her? Did I tell her I loved her? Did I tell her how proud I was of her? Did I tell her that her being in this world made me a better person? Did I tell her that being her mother was one of the greatest privileges of my life? So many thoughts flash through your mind at that moment when you believe life and death are in the balance. I didn’t think about things that didn’t matter. I thought about everything I ever wanted her to know.
“Police are outside the door.”
“What are you STILL doing there?”
“The shooter left. He’s gone.”
“What if he comes back?”
“See, Mom. That is why I didn’t want to call you.”
She doesn’t understand and may never know until she is a mother. When the threat of something you hold as close to your next breath may be gone over nothing, you panic.
“I will call you back.”
“Okay,” I said.
I didn’t want her to hang up. I didn’t want to wonder about her safety. The rest of my meeting I was distracted. I text my daughter. She didn’t text back. More visions ran through my mind. God. Finally, she texts back but still I went to her job to check on her. I had to make sure. As the old folks say, “I had to put my eyes on her.” She was fine. Thank God. But that is just how precarious life is, here today, gone today.
They asked if the story was on the news. “No. There has been a school shooting today, and that has taken over the news cycle.”
I came home and watched the news as I scrolled through Twitter. It almost seems standard.
Thoughts and prayers.
Thoughts and prayers.
Thoughts and prayers.
The shooter being arrested flashed across my screen. In the age of social media, his image quickly circulated online. Now the debates start about gun control or no gun control? Is he mentally ill or sane? Does Trump address this problem in a dignified manner or does he act like his usual Trump self? Do politicians take money from the NRA all while sending thoughts and prayers and telling the world not to politicize this moment?
I don’t know the right answer when it comes to dealing with school shootings. In all honesty and transparency, I am an advocate of RESPONSIBLE gun ownership. I own several guns. I have been to gun training classes to learn how to use a weapon. My daughter has been trained and has her concealed carry license. I wanted to make sure if we had a gun in our home for protection we were going to be responsible. I wanted to make sure we could protect ourselves in our house. Not go out and commit a mass shooting. It is my hope I NEVER have to fire any of my guns.
With so many debates about what to do next, all I can say is, I don’t know. But what I do know is that each week I work at a school, and the stories I have heard have shocked me. I am saddened to hear the stories that these young people tell me. I am heartbroken to hear the names they are called not just by students. I am devastated when I hear they feel lonely, stupid, insecure. My heart aches that they carry so much weight in their backpacks, the weight we may never see, but it is there. The weight that many of them will carry the rest of their lives.
I do not know how to deal with school shootings but what I do know parents please, if you do NOTHING ELSE, please listen to your children and hug your children. Take time to spend with your children, real time, without you being distracted by things that honestly do not matter in the big scheme of life. Put the phone down and look them in the eyes and ask them about their day. And truly listen to what they tell you. Advocate for your children. Do not be afraid to stand up to the school system. I understand discipline but sometimes go easy on your children. We all make mistakes. None of us are perfect, and we all need room to grow. Remember when you were young. Remember how you wanted to be treated as a young person. Allow your children to have a voice. So many young people have so much wisdom, and their age shouldn’t always be a deciding factor in the validity of what they say. Protect your children. Hug your children. If you are able, every day they leave the house, hug them, kiss them on the cheek and tell them goodbye. Pray for your children. Love your children.
I tell you this because, in all transparency, I was not that type of mom. I made so many mistakes. But when you know better you do better, and I pray that I am doing better with my daughter. But my daughter is grown. And what is done is done. And I cannot get that time back. If you have the opportunity to be an integral part of your child’s life and impact who they are for the better, take that time and pour everything you can into making your child become an amazing person.
All we have is today. This day. This hour. This moment. Make the most of the day in loving your children.
Categories: Thoughts, Musings and Reflections