Man hold up his hands like a gun and takes fake shots. He laughs maniacally at the video he’s watching. It’s one of those silly kid’s videos where guys are using Nerf guns to shoot each other in idiotic places. He thinks it’s hysterical.
“Turn that off right now!” I say curtly.
“What’s the big deal?” He asks innocently.
“You know daddy and I don’t like guns or shooting or when you watch videos of shooting!”
“It’s just a Nerf gun mom, it’s funny.”
“Well, one day it could be a real gun!” I say as I rip the iPad away from him.
He looks at me, his already giant doe eyes even larger. “Mom, I was watching that!!”
“Well, now you’re not.” I spit back.
I take a deep breath; my emotions are running high. I have just read another article about the Parkland shooting and I’m sad, scared, angry, defeated…
“I have to talk to you about something, buddy.”
“One of the reasons daddy and I don’t like you playing with guns or thinking they are just fun toys is because one day, it might be hard for you to tell if someone has a toy gun or a real gun. One day, someone might start shooting and it won’t just be pretend.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Well, you know all of those lockdown drills you guys have? It’s because someone with a real gun might come into your school and start shooting and they want to make sure you know what to do. That happened today at a school in Florida. Some people even got killed.”
“Stop saying that mommy, you’re scaring me. I don’t want to hear that!!”
“I know little buddy, and I don’t want to have to tell you this, but I do. It’s important that you know that guns are dangerous and that they are not toys and they can hurt people.”
I’m crying now, and he looks at me a little lost. He continues to back away from the conversation, scanning the room for his iPad so he can remove himself from this discussion altogether. He can’t handle what I am saying and, quite frankly, I can’t either.
A million thoughts are racing through my head: “He needs to hear this stuff, it’s a matter of life and death.” “He’s only seven, I shouldn’t be scaring him like this.” “Am I doing this right, because I’m not sure how to have a conversation like this with my seven-year-old?” “I SHOULDN’T HAVE TO HAVE THIS CONVERSATION WITH MY SEVEN-YEAR-OLD!!!”
This morning they read the names and descriptions of the 17 killed on NPR. I began to cry again.
Then, just now, I read some of the text exchanges between parent’s and their children. I began to cry again.
Then I began to feel guilty, am I allowed to cry? Am I even allowed to feel this way? It wasn’t my school, or my children, or even anyone I know. My sadness cannot take away from the sadness and distraught felt by the friends and family of whose lives were taken.
My emotions are so confused and disconnected.
I don’t know what I am allowed to feel; but I do know that I am heartbroken.
I don’t know what I am allowed to feel; but I do know that I am angry.
I don’t know what I am allowed to feel; but I do know that I am helpless.
There is so much I’m feeling, but mostly, I don’t feel it is my right to have any feelings on this matter at all, not until it happens to someone I know.
And there it is… “Not until it happens to someone I know.”
The likelihood of it happening to someone I know is significant, it’s only a matter of time.
That fact alone gives me the right to feel!
To feel angry!
To feel that nothing, NOTHING is being done!
To feel scared because we are all just sitting around waiting for it to happen again!!!
This didn’t happen to me, it happened to every single parent and child in this country and somewhere along the way we’ve been told to accept the fact that there is nothing we can do.
In the end, why feel at all if those feelings aren’t going to amount to anything.