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The Big Bad Wolf

December 17, 2012 - 10:51pm -- swingbug

My kid's school has the students practicing crazed-gunman drills now. At the sound of a particular code phrase over the intercom, all the kids are to stop, drop, and play dead.

And now I have to speak.

Folks, what happened in Connecticut on Friday is tragedy. And it's scary. So take a moment of silence for lives lost and families greiving. But please, when you've done that, take another one for yourself. Breathe in and out until you're doing it nice and steady. Don't think on your feet right now. Let's all make a conscious choice to act, not just react.

I would never suggest you shield kids from knowledge when this kind of thing happens. That's unwise and far from possible besides. Once upon a time, maybe you could just hide the newspaper. Maybe. But news travels faster than the speed of sound now. It's shared, liked, and retweeted; it filters into pockets and computer screens and tablets. And this time the president interrupted the football game, so everybody knows. Our communities are global now. And kids aren't dumb. Never have been.

Our dinner table conversation tonight began with our six-year-old explaining to us about the drill while my husband and I stared at each other over the top of his head. He told us about the kids who were killed in the other school. "And even six teachers!" he told us. Somehow the thought that bad things can happen to kids is easier for them to get their heads around than it is for us, I think.

So we talked. We talked about what happened. We talked about why guns are dangerous and why we never, ever touch them. We talked about mental health and we talked about police officers.

"How do you feel about all this stuff, kiddo?" my husband asks.

"What stuff?"

"The drill. And about what happened on Friday. And about the other stuff we've been talking about tonight."

Luke took a few minutes to collected his thoughts. Finally, he said, "I feel sad for the people who got hurt at the other school."

"I'm proud of you. Me too."

Folks, I think we all still need to breathe in and out right now. I know it's scary. I'm seeing gun control petitions flying around this week that no one has even read through once for spelling and complete sentences before pushing send. I'm all for stricter gun control, but we can't write legistation this way. You can't lead with only your heart. We have to use our heads. This is complicated and it has to be carefully thought through. 

And drills where the kids play dead on command? This isn't going to make our schools safer. It's a knee-jerk, emotional response to a jacked-up situation, and what it's going to do is make our kids scared that monsters are going to plow though the classroom door any minute in the middle of algebra.

There are pile-ups on the freeway, but we still drive to work. There are contagious viruses floating around, but we still shake hands. And sometimes the big bad wolf knocks on a door, but we can't hide on the floor everytime the wind blows. We get up and live our lives. Let's try to teach our kids to do the same.

In and out, everybody. Let's breathe deep. We'll get though this. And once we do, then we can talk about how to act.

Comments

Submitted by Chezza on

I'm not sure I agree. Too many people are saying that this is not the time to talk about gun control, it's a time for mourning - let's not politicize this tragedy, etc. I'm tired of it. I'm tired of it not being the right time to take serious action on gun control. I'm tired that tragedy after tragedy, we are told to sit and wait until we get through this, until we are ready. And every time we do that, every time we wait, we forget. The energy and passion dissipates. We forget that every two months, we lose more people to guns than we did in 911. We forget, until the next tragedy occurs, until the next child is shot 11 times with bullets designed to stay inside the body and inflict the maximum amount of damage possible.

Jon Stewart did a piece about this idea of waiting right after the movie theater shooting. It was quite good I thought.

Perhaps you mean that we need to just be more careful and clear. We need to make clear, concise, well thought out arguments. I agree with that. We shouldn't spout nonsense, that doesn't help. But we shouldn't wait either.

Submitted by swingbug on

What I'm trying to say is that we have to stop and think before we start moving, and employ our brains to come up with good solutions, not badly written, poorly thought out petitions. Case and point: 9/11 brought us the Patriot Act. Anyone honestly think we're better off?

And I think that before schools come up with safety solutions, they should do some research, and talk to some child psychologists, not just add another play to the security theater.

If you're so angry/terrified/grief-stricken that you can't speak in complete sentences, you need to take a break and get your head on straight. Then you can come back and join the discussion.