Friday, December 14, 2012

Too close. Too real. Too horrifying.

I'm sick to my stomach.  I'm fighting tears.  I've been on the verge of one ... or the other ... or both ... all day.

This post is going to be all but incoherent.  I don't have the right mindset to be as eloquent as others will be. But I'm writing it because writing has become my therapy.  And I need to get these thoughts out.

Everyone heard about the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  I'm not recounting it here.  Not only is it unnecessary, it's far to painful to recount.

This morning I noticed it as a news update via Facebook.  All Newtown schools were in lockdown.  As the day went on the news got much, much worse.  And now my heart is breaking for the whole community.

If you're not from CT, understand that Newtown is a nice town.  A beautiful small town with great schools.  It's a town that families with small children want to move to.  It's a few towns from where we live and a very similar community.  My best friend used to be a music teacher there.  My brother-in-law grew up there.  My mother-in-law works in an office 5 minutes down the road.  Adam grew up one town over.

My sister used to work at Sandy Hook.  In the kindergarten classrooms.  She and I were on the phone watching the news and she was recognizing teachers leading their classrooms out of the building.

As a parent, my first response was to gather my girls close to me and cry for those parents.  I haven't had to take a five year old to school for the first time yet.  We are just starting to look at preschools.  I know it can be a pretty emotional experience.  You've guided your babies, and now it's time to put your trust in the school to teach them, guide them, and keep them safe.  These parents probably had fears that their children would miss them, that they might encounter a mean kid, that they might not like their teacher, that they might struggle academically.

You don't send a kid to kindergarten in Newtown thinking they might be shot before the day is out.

And if they weren't, if you were lucky enough to get your child back, if they were at another school, in another town, in another state...

How do you put them on the bus on Monday without panicking?

As a teacher, I'm thinking of all the security that is already in place.  My school was locked all day, just as Sandy Hook was.  You had to be buzzed in.  Everyone did.  Parents, visitors, delivery, even a teacher running out to their car.  After the bell rang at 8:30, the doors were locked until dismissal.

We practiced lockdown drills a few times a year.  A code would be called, and we would lock the doors, turn off the lights, and hide in the classroom - silently.  I had some young classes in my room during those drills, and even the drills scared the kids.  They knew these were drills to help "keep them safe", but several worried that a "bad man" might actually come.  We actually went into lockdown a few times - nothing major - and it is a scary feeling.  You don't know what's going on, and what kind of panic you should feel.  And as the teacher, your job is to stay calm, keep the kids calm, and keep the kids safe.  That was hard enough.

I can't imagine how a teacher talks to his or her class about lockdown now.

As a human, I'm appalled.  There is no place in my brain to rationalize why any human would go after the most innocent of all.  I don't understand, but I know that people snap.  There is evil in the world.  But how does even the most evil among us approach a five year old baby, look at the innocence and terror...and pull the trigger.

This isn't Columbine.  These kids weren't bullies who pushed a classmate to a breaking point.  This isn't Virginia Tech.  These aren't young adults.

These kids were babies.  Innocent babies.  It doesn't matter what you thought of their parents, their teachers, society as a whole.

These kids are only a few years older than mine.  In less than three years, I'll have a kindergartener.  In a beautiful, safe, CT town with wonderful schools.

Maybe that's why it's hitting me so hard.  I'm a former teacher, I'm a human, but most importantly I'm a mom.  My stomach churns whenever I feel like any harm might come to my babies. 

Today, right now, I can't imagine having to send my kids to school, just hoping and praying that I'll see them at the end of the day.  Adam and I have tossed around the idea of homeschooling for a few years, since before Madison was born, and today I'm on board wholeheartedly.  I can't protect them from all the evil the in world, I know that.  But when kindergartens aren't safe...where is?

I'm a news junkie today.  I'm scrolling through facebook, reading comments and commentary and people's reactions.  At first I was commenting, and then I just had to stop.

It's too close to home.  It's too real.  It's too horrible.

And with that, I hear the stirring of my babies as they wake up.  Time to turn off the news, silence my computer, and watch some wholesome Disney shows while snuggling with my girls.  I'm going to be a sucker tonight for extra books, cuddles, and playtime.  I'm not interested in talking about school security, or gun control, or whatever.  It's not the time.  I'm thankful most of the news figures and politicians aren't making this political yet.  Because it's not right now.  It's tragic.

And when they go to bed, I'll cry for all those moms, dads, brothers, sisters, grandmas, and grandpas who no longer have a baby to cuddle.


Kristin @ What She Said said...

This was by no means incoherent. In fact, it was incredibly well-written and I agree with every word. The unthinkable happened today. There is no rationalizing it. Ever.

Anonymous said...

Very eloquently put. Your pain is palpable.Thank you for sharing your feelings. It helps.

Spirit of Hope and Kindness Awards said...

Wow. So close to home. And very eloquent in time of utter horror. It is simply not something we can process. xo

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