I had a much different post in mind for today. I just can't bring myself to ignore the pit in all of our stomachs today.
I'm personally shaken and sickened by the tragic shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary school in Connecticut. All of us are. If you are reading this while this is still fresh, it's safe to say there are still tears behind your eyes. As a parent of an elementary school student it took all my reserves not to rush to our school and check my daughter out just so I can hold her and look into her lively blue eyes. I sat in the long car-line waiting to pick her up for the usual 40 minutes, sobbing. I really thought I'd feel so much better once I had her safe my arms, and I did. But the sick feeling did not go away. I couldn't stop thinking about the parents of those 20 small children who won't get to tuck them into bed tonight. Even the children who survived will be traumatized indefinitely. And their parents, too. We grieve with all of them. Rocked to the core.
Teachers will take this very hard. I suggest taking a moment to send a brief note of support and condolence to your child's elementary school teacher. It would be difficult for them not to identify with this situation in an extremely personal way. Reading about teachers who huddled with "their kids" in closets, I see the faces of every teacher in our school. I know they would protect our children with their lives if it came to it. I wish I could reach out and hug all of the teachers in my child's school.
What do we tell our kids? What do we not tell our kids? It's so difficult to know. I guess the answer depends on their age. My daughter is 8yrs old. When I picked her from school as mentioned it was obvious that I'd been crying. She asked what's wrong. So right away, I told her there was nothing wrong with us or anyone we know. That seemed to calm her immediate fears. Then I told her that something bad happened in the news and it involved children, so I was very happy to see her. She stopped asking questions so I left it there. There will be time later tonight after dinner to give her a few more details that hopefully will not terrify her. If I don't she'll hear it from another source. I want to be the one to help her sort through this event. I firmly believe the key is giving just the right amount of factual details so they can make sense of what others are feeling and have an appropriate response themselves. My daughter needs to know the seriousness of what happened, even if not every last detail.
Tonight we hug our kids harder, offer up a more heartfelt prayer, give more "I Love Yous" then usual.