It's early to be reacting to this shooting in CT, but here it goes anyway, because I have some thoughts I'd like to get out while they're fresh.
First, I didn't think it would affect me as much as it did. CT's not far from me, a couple hours, but still far enough away to be outside my radius where I feel connected to the people in it. I don't know anyone there personally. But when I heard the shooter walked into a kindergarten class, my heart sank and the tears came.
My son is in kindergarten.
I thought about the things he worries about: the girl who seems to have some behavioral problems and alternates between hugging him and swearing at him. Not liking some of the other kids in his class. "MOM, I ONLY like 18 out of 22 people in my class!" Not liking the snack I packed him. Doing homework that takes 5 minutes. Having to go to boring old Target with me to pick up milk.
I thought about that poor class, the one I last heard was unaccounted for and fear that they are the ones who make up the total loss. The terror and confusion, what goes through a 6 year old's head when that happens?
At first I felt guilty for worrying about the girl who swore at him yesterday. A little kindergarten bully, how harmless is that compared to someone who can walk into a school and shoot more than 20 people. Then I didn't feel guilty. Because I feel that those bullies, if not helped very early on, are the kids who are more likely to become grown ups who go into a K class and shoot everyone in it. (I'm assuming that's what happened, based on these early reports.) I know some kids just have early childhood issues that clear up and they becoming functioning adults and I know there are perfectly average kids who somehow become killers. Still there's something not right about a girl who calls my son shit because he doesn't want to play with her every day.
But I'm getting beside the point. The point is we need to help our children. Just the other day some of my mommy friends and I were talking about suicide, how it seemed to be so much more frequent than when we were kids. And I can think of a dozen reasons why that might be--maybe these kids feel they cannot talk to their parents or any other adult. Maybe their school left them feeling lost, hopeless. Maybe their "friends" were so catty and mean that they felt like they liked the wrong boy band, wore the wrong shoes, said the wrong things, couldn't do ANYTHING right. And why should they think it gets any better? Life is just one big high school. They tell you its not but it is. You'll feel accepted, then you'll open up too much, or to the wrong person, or say the wrong thing and BAM, you feel like you're 15 again. And the people who should first and foremost make kids feel good about themselves and teach them how to overcome peer pressure and stupid people whether they're 15 or 35 is their parents and they're so often worlds away from what their kids are going through and they don't even think to ask, "How was your day?"
Parents: always tell your children you're there for them. Even if it's 20 minutes before bedtime and you're home from work and exhausted and hungry, ask them if there's anything they want to talk about. My son never tells me anything unless I ask him that. It's how I found out about the girl who's been swearing at him at school. 20 minutes before bedtime, a chance "Is there anything you want to tell me?" It's become a nightly thing, now. If I don't ask, who knows what he'll never tell me. Now I don't know if he'll still answer that question honestly when he's 10, 15, 18. But I hope instilling it in him now will make it more likely that he will, and that he'll tell someone, even it's not me, about his problems, before he goes and takes it out on innocent people.