In my last journal, I mentioned wanting to call a time out and keep things the way they are. Regrettably, that is not to be. I live in Connecticut, and the tragic events in Newtown have hit our community very hard. Connecticut is a small state; I know several people whose lives have been touched by this tragedy. I have a lot of friends who are teachers. My mind won't stop playing the "what-ifs." Newtown, CT is Anytown, CT; Anytown, USA.
When I arrived home on Friday, I wanted to sprint to the house, scoop up all my children and hug them tight, touch the soft skin of their cheeks, breathe the smell of their hair. Instead I took a deep breath and walked calmly into the house as if it was any other day. Then Brody came over for a hug. I hugged him so hard and so tight, and by that time, I couldn't contain my tears.
I had the good fortune to work from home the other day. I took a quick break to walk Brody out to the bus stop. When the bus barreled down the street and squeaked to a stop, I looked up and saw innocent little faces looking back at me through each window. I started to count, but the bus pulled away before I reached twenty. At Brody's boy scout meeting, I counted the boys. Ten. At basketball I counted twelve. I picked Brody up from school, and at the last bell, children enthusiastically streamed into the gym to their waiting parents. I can't wrap my mind around this.
In the meantime, I have spent the past week praying for the victims, their families, their friends, coworkers, first responders. These events have both shaken my faith and strengthened it. I have hugged my children repeatedly, my babysitter, neighbors, friends, coworkers. I've called my mom more frequently and hugged my husband tighter. In the last week I have repeatedly thank God for the small moments and beg Him to protect us, to watch over us.
In my mind, I've debated gun control. But doesn't an addict easily find illegal drugs? What's the difference? Connecticut has stringent gun laws, but there are still plenty of guns out there. Our children are desensitized to violence. They are parked in front of a television rather than engaged in family time. I used to watch MTV just to see what the older were exposed to, on the rare occasion that I wasn't paying attention. Jackass. Sixteen and Pregnant.* Teen Mom.* Jersey Shore. And this country actually rates video games for violence! Have you seen how lifelike these games are nowadays? When I was a kid, we played Frogger, for crying out loud. We as parents need to step up and take responsibility to guide and protect our children, to teach right from wrong, good from evil. Eat dinner as a family. Have a weekly game night. Exercise together, cook together, work together, and play together. It begins with us.
I told Brody on Friday evening that there was a bad man that hurt some kids at their school. We decided that if he heard about it, it would be from us, not from the administration or other kids at school. We opted not to speak of it with the younger children. In addition to repeatedly telling my children how much they are loved and doling out massive bear hugs, I keep telling them that I will always protect them and keep them safe. It feels like a lie, but one that I intend to continue telling.
God bless Newtown.
*I absolutely admire and support the teens who step up and take responsibility for their pregnancies and babies. I just don't think it should be glorified on television.