A parent’s jolting wake-up call
Just the other night, I told my daughter that a student had brought a gun to the junior high school she'll attend next year.
"I'm gonna die. You don't have to worry about college. I'll be dead," she told my husband and me.
Now, I'll grant you that my daughter has a flair for the dramatic. And she likes to spark reactions particularly from her parents.
But what she said scared me.
I'm not a worrier. Oh sure, I probably worry too much about stories I'm working on. And I worry about getting older because that means my family and friends are getting older, too.
But, in general, I'm not someone who worries. I would rather spend my time trying to find a solution to a problem than spend my time stewing about the problem. Worrying is not productive.
But I'm getting worried. Not about next school year. Or the school year after that. But now you can count me among those parents who are concerned about their children's future. I've always been optimistic about my daughter's future. Now I'm not so sure.
Despite the many news stories in recent years about children killing children, children killing parents, children killing adults and children killing themselves, I had remained optimistic. I had thought those incidents were anomalies. I had thought I was too aware of those horror stories because I'm a journalist, a news junkie.
I didn't think those incidents would affect my daughter.
Of course, I'd heard about other people's kids who were afraid to go to school. I'd heard about other people's kids who were depressed about their futures. I'd hear about other people's kids who'd actually witnessed violence in their schools or homes.
But those kids somehow were different from my child. Those kids came from poor families. That's not my family. They came from rich families. That's not my family. They live in larger towns. That's not my town. They lived in smaller towns. That's not my town. They came from broken homes. That's not my home.
But now all that's changed. Over time, this violence has poisoned my daughter.
And what did I expect?
I guess I was na. I guess I thought that if my husband and I provided a safe and loving home for her that that other world would not slip into our home. I guess I thought that if her four grandparents spent time with her that she would be safe. I guess I thought that if we did our jobs, her world would be safe.
I guess I was wrong.
And now because, as you'll remember, I'm not a worrier I must go to work. I must work to ensure that she is safe. And I must work to assure her that she will be safe.
I'm not really sure what I must do. I do know that it will take a lot of effort, a lot of talk, a lot of reassurance. I do know that it will take effort and talk and reassurance from all who love her and care about her.
I just hope everyone else in the world will give me a little help on this one.