“What would you do if a gun man came to your school and started shooting kids?” I asked my children.
“I’d hide behind the door,” my older son said.
“Do you think that all of your classmates could get behind the door with you?” I wondered aloud.
“I know, I’d jump out the window.” my younger son said.
“I hope you wouldn’t jump from the second floor,” I told him. “I think that I would tell everyone to push all of the desks and chairs in front of the door. And, I would tell someone to call the police on their cell phone.”
“Do you think you would ever go back to your school if something like Chardon happened at your school?” I asked
“Nope, no way!” They agreed.
Dear God! Do I really have to have this discussion with my 9 year old and my 14 year old?
Back in 2010 I wrote about living in the center of the DC sniper attacks. At that time I had one preschool child. Parents drove to the door of the preschool and the teachers would send one child out at a time at pick-up in the hope that only one parent and child would be vulnerable to attack. The school was completely locked down and there was no way to enter without the proper password.
When we moved to rural PA in 2007 it was less than a year after a gun man had killed Amish children at school only 38 miles from where we moved. To enter our little country elementary school, parents had to be buzzed in one at a time. Parents were not allowed to hold the door open for the parent behind them. Inside, they would have to present their license in the office. The license was scanned and checked by a security database before they could enter.
My children were too young then and oblivious to the reasons for these procedures. At that time, I kept the dark details to myself, but this time my children are completely aware. The news is all around them.
My eldest son was date/‘texting’ a girl with whom he had been in theatrical productions. She attends Chardon schools only 25 miles from where we live now. One of her friends was Daniel Parmertor, the boy who was first to die in this latest school shooting.
“How is she?” I asked.
“She texted she was not OK, and she didn’t want to talk about it,” he said.
“Give her some time,” I told him.
What reasons can I give to my children so that they can understand what just happened? Are they safe? When I look at what has happened around us I think perhaps not. We in our very normal suburban homes have been so close to these horrible disasters. I read the statistics and they say that violent crimes in schools in the USA are down, but here we are again, another person out of their mind with a gun. Guns are still too easy to access in the US and mental health care too difficult to access.
Our nation… our global community needs to spend more time meditating on how everything and everyone is interconnected and less time simply watching and mindlessly reacting to the horror of the moment. Compassionate thought should guide our every action, become our daily practice, and this will create our better future.
Please make it your mission to counter every act of random violence with a thoughtful act of kindness!
Peace in all your good endeavors.
I send my love and prayers for healing to the Chardon community and the many grieving families affected by this tremendous tragedy.