Yesterday as I was getting ready to head out the door to run some errands, I caught a friends Facebook status that said something about a school shooting in Connecticut. It seemed that there weren’t a lot of details at the moment but it seemed that there were only a few casualties. A blessing, I thought.
As I was driving around, listening to CNN on the radio I heard an interview with a parent who was in a meeting at the time of the shooting. She told of the Principle, Vice-Principle and school Psychologist leaving the room after hearing gunshots, and only one person coming back.
This seemed in line with what I had heard earlier and I though that this was the extent of the destruction.
As I started on my last leg of my journey, the details started to spill out.
I just started to cry. Right there in traffic on my way to Target.
I’ve written before about feeling jaded when these mass shootings happen, and for the most part, I am. The Oregon shooting just weeks ago didn’t even register a blip on my radar.
This hits much too close to home.
This was not someone who was bullied taking out his hurt and anger on the people who hurt him.
This was someone killing 6-year olds.
Two years ago, when the boys were first diagnosed, we didn’t bat an eyelash when they were put right into public school just 3 weeks later. They had just turned 2 years old.
Since day one, they have ridden the bus. They have their own cubbie for their jacket and backpack. They eat school lunches. They bring home art projects by the stack. They lose playground privileges when they act out.
They have an entire life, five days a week that I am not a part of. It’s been like this since they were TWO. This year they are gone for almost 6 hours a day, dividing time between two different schools. This isn’t some dress rehearsal for school- this is the real deal.
It didn’t strike me until yesterday just how much faith a parent has to have to do that. To put your two year old on a bus with a complete stranger who will hand them off to other (relative) strangers, and trust that they will come home safe at the end of the day. To trust that the people they are with will protect them and care for them in the way I would if I was there.
When the boys bus pulled up to our driveway yesterday afternoon I bounded up the stairs to unbuckle them from their seats. The driver took one look at me and said “Today has been a terrible day.” In that moment I didn’t know whether to hug him (for acknowledging my tear stained face) or smother my kids in kisses (simply because I could).
Today I spent the morning at a parent support group discussing safety precautions at one of the boys schools. How they are making sure the school is safe for the kids. If/ When/ How to talk to our kids about things like this. Whether the kids should be prepared in any way via a lock-down drill like they do tornado and fire drills or whether that would create added anxiety for them.
I’m sure we will be hearing more in the coming days about safety measures from both schools. It astounds me that at the age of 4, this is now part of their life.
I did not worry about things like this.
Of course, hearing the word “Autism” bandied about is adding lots of extra anxiety.
Autism is not a mental illness- the news media needs to stop calling it that.
There is enough stigma that comes with a diagnosis, I do not want my kids to grow up and be pegged as loose cannons because they are socially awkward or keep to themselves.
To all of the teachers at Sandy Hook who kept those children safe,
who read stories to keep them calm,
who gave hugs and told those children they were loved,
who barricaded doors with their own bodies,
who sacrificed their lives to save the lives of their students.
I don’t know whether to call you heroes, or angels walking on earth, but I can only hope that my kids are in such caring hands.