It’s taken me a week to process through the Florida school shooting and what that means to me as a mother and what that means for my kids. A few nights ago I sat down at the dinner table and talked to my kids about the school shooting that happened on Valentines Day in Florida. It breaks my heart that I have to talk to my young kids about gun violence on campuses and give them tips on how to protect themselves. I hate that I have to tell my children to always to tell a teacher if anyone even mentions bringing guns or weapons to school. It’s disturbing because it should be. It’s not normal to have these discussions with small kids or anyone, but it’s necessary. The reality is, guns on campuses and mass firearm shooting deaths are becoming a regular thing on the news, and as a parent, as much as I want to protect them from having anxiety about these horrific acts of violence, I also want them to be safe and aware.
I think it’s important to talk to our kids about what this all means in a way that is appropriate for their age. My two-year-old isn’t going to understand, but my five and seven-year-old will. They, of course, don’t need to know the gory details, but they should know the basics of protecting themselves like hiding under a desk, being as quiet as possible and following all instructions given by teachers. Just thinking about them in this scenario makes me sick to my stomach and honestly, I hate that this is even a conversation that needs to be had, don’t you?
Isn’t our country sick of all of these atrocities yet? What’s it going to take before we realize that enough is enough? Before we say that our children deserve more than excuses of “slippery slopes.” Let me be frank as a concerned mother; the slope has already crashed and burned at the hands of men with automatic weapons who ended the lives of children and unsuspecting civilians. The only “slope” I’m concerned about is the one that is grossly under-regulated by the government and ending in death. 19-year-olds can’t buy shot-guns in most states until 21…but they can buy a semi-automatic weapon. The access to guns that can kill several dozen in minutes is alarming.
My heart breaks for Florida. Not only are the parents and community suffering the loss of their children, friends, and classmates but that Valentines Day will be a reminder of the pain they have collectively suffered. As a mom, I was thinking about what the parents of these students were doing on the morning of February 14th. I can imagine some got up and tucked notes in lunches or left little Valentine’s day gifts for their child not knowing that this would be the last time they would ever have this chance again. It sickens me that they will never get to hold their sons and daughters this side of heaven and that they are now left looking at empty bedrooms and closets filled with lingering scents on clothes that should still be getting lived in, washed, folded, and put away to be worn once again. They are left with memories and vast emptiness. Their children are gone. And we are worried about a slippery slope when if any of this were to happen in our own families and our own kids, we would be on the side of better gun restrictions and laws as well is a second. We would be the ones holding up signs saying “enough is enough.”
Today I am trying to go about my day as normal. I made my kids breakfast, kissed them goodbye, and sent them to school. It’s unnerving that this could happen to any one of them. None of these parents had a clue that this would happen, and frankly, if we don’t do something about it, this is going to happen again, and again, and again. More deaths from the hands of someone who should have never had a gun or access to one, to begin with.
I’m sitting here as a parent wondering what we can do to prevent this from happening more and what other factors are playing into people wanting to plan out and execute a mass murder.
Is it the violent games we let kids play without thinking about mental consequences and numbing to the murder of people?
Is it the fascination with violent movies and tv shows that are plaguing Hollywood and our home television screens?
Are we not taking kids seriously when they start talking about violent acts they want to commit? Are people too scared to speak up when they see an Instagram account of a teen filled with guns pointing out windows and hear whispers of wanting to hurt people?
I am at a loss, and maybe you are too. As a parent, when we talk to our kids, that’s hard because our kids are looking to us to be strong and they are looking to us for answers. I think it’s okay to be broken in front of them. I think it’s okay for our kids to see our humanity in all of this. What has happened and what is continuing to happen is hugely devastating to families, communities, and this country.
I don’t know what the answer is and the end solution to all of this beyond government taking any kind of action finally. But my hope is, that when we talk to our kids, we can at least do our part in preventing something similar from happening in their school and/or teach them how to be safe if one happens.
And mamas reading this, I know that these situations can cause anxiety and fear and I want you to know that I get that and feel that. But, we can’t live under that or nothing will get done to prevent it. Let’s use that anxiety for good and take action. We can start by talking with are kids.
Sending all of my prayers to everyone affected in Florida.