I Don’t Know What To Tell My 5th Grader About School Shootings Anymore
He's old enough to understand that he could be shot at school for no reason, and I have no way to comfort him.
America has had two school shootings this week...and it's only Wednesday. One of them didn't even make the national news.
A 16-year-old in Texas opened fire with a semi-automatic handgun on Monday, wounding another teenager. Yesterday, two teens were killed and 16 wounded after a student opened fire at a high school in Kentucky.
The latter was on the NBC Nightly News last night. We had just gotten home from our son's karate class and were studying for his social studies test when the story came on in the other room. He's 11; we can't shelter him forever. He couldn't ignore the story - he didn't say anything, but I knew that he was listening.
A few hours later, as we were getting ready for bed, he started to cry. He said, "I'm upset about what happened in Kentucky. I don't want to get shot at school."
I didn't know what to say. I've got nothing left. There's nothing to explain this away anymore. Actually, there never WAS.
I hugged him and held him close, which is parent-code for "I have no answers." Because I don't.
He told me a couple of weeks ago that they have lockdown drills, and that he and a couple of other boys were yelled at by a teacher for laughing during the drill. We said, "Well, that's because it's a serious thing, and sometimes you need to be serious. Your teachers care about you, that's why they have these drills."
Speaking of teachers, I can't imagine how they must feel. It's only January 24th and there have already been 11 school shootings this year.
I'm done. I've BEEN done for years. Luckily, my son was young enough that I could shelter him from the sick reality of our country in the past. But now, he's in fifth grade. He's growing up. He's participating in lockdown drills. I can't shelter him anymore.
What the hell are we supposed to do as parents? Homeschool our kids? Bubble-wrap them? He already takes self-defense classes, and we have constant talks about why it's important to be a good person and NOT to bully. Thankfully, he's not a bully. He doesn't understand why some kids feel good about being mean to others. But that's not going to protect him during a school shooting.
A former student came into my high school when I was a kid and shot and killed our assistant principle. We were one of the first schools in the state of Wisconsin to have security cameras. At the time, I thought that this was an isolated incident. Now, here I am, 25 years later, talking about school shootings with MY child.
It's a common occurrance at this point. It's been common for years. It's become part of the fabric of our country. It can happen in any city, state, socio-economic area, to kids of any age, color, etc. And it's not something to be proud of.
I have no answers anymore.