Yesterday my son texted me from school.
He asked if I had heard about the shooting in California.
The bus driver was playing the radio so all the kids listened to the news report while riding the bus home.
He was scared, concerned and saddened by what he heard.
Just last week my son talked with me about school shootings. The mass murder of innocent lives in Roseburg scared him because it was closer to home and as Oregonians we felt it intimately. He told me he was frightened for the kids who wore neon colors at his school. He was fearful if a school shooter came in those kids would be easier targets because of their bright wardrobes. He then went on to tell me about the drills his school has been running in the event of an attack.
I don't care how good of a parent you think you are, these conversations leave even the best speechless.
Back in the glory days of the 80's the only drills we had were for natural disasters, in our case it was earthquakes. And while that was a scary concept (still is) it pales in comparison to the threat of being shot by a deranged assailant.
My first inclination is to pull my kids from school and enroll them in online studies or (God forbid because I'm a horrible teacher), homeschool.
Yet that doesn't really solve anything because we are still under a threat of violence wherever we go. A store, a restaurant, a concert or even as yesterday proves, a Christmas party.
Last year my daughter sent me a text that her school was being evacuated because a bomb threat had been discovered scrawled over the girl's bathroom wall. What followed were bomb squads, police, dogs and the FBI. All the while our children were sequestered at the nearby elementary school and while no bomb was discovered, it left an indelible mark on our children's peace of mind.
I feel the need to apologize to my children. To all children.
They never asked for this kind of fear in their lives and they certainly don't deserve it.
We live in a cruel and heartless time and it saddens me that our children have to bear witness to it. I envisioned so much more for them at this tender age.
Had I known what awaited my kids back when we were considering parenthood perhaps I would have felt differently about having them. Don't get me wrong, my children are the biggest blessing in my life and I love them fiercely but it pains me to realize the enormous evil our youth are facing at such an early age.
However, because my children are witness to this perhaps there is hope. What if they were to turn their anger and fear into action? What if kids were to take this kind of violence and work to prevent it? What if our kids took a stand against unjust actions and become advocates for the oppressed? What if our children banded together as a mighty force and said "Enough"? What if our children campaigned against gun violence?
I believe as parents we have a job to instill a desire in our kids to become warriors. Warriors for the greater good, for a cause bigger than themselves. As parents we can empower our kids and live by example. We can have conversations, we can unplug and discuss the seriousness of what our society has become. We can educate our kids. We can teach them to choose better.
That is the best I can come up with in order to deal with our current state of affairs.
In the meantime, my heart skips a beat every time I drop my kids off at school as I breathe out a prayer for their safety. But as we are so fully aware that safety can be compromised the moment someone walks through the unlocked door of their school armed with a weapon and a grudge.