Have you told them anything?
As I write this, it’s been 3 days since a lone gunman forced his way into a school in Newtown, Connecticut in the USA, and shot dead six teachers and 20 children. The children killed were only six and seven years old.
People across the world are in mourning, along with families of the victims and anyone who lives in the area affected. Many of my friends have been avoiding the news because they know reading or hearing about the shootings will not be helpful for their mental health. but anyone with school age child can not help but fail to imagine how they would feel if it was their child, or their school, involved in a shooting like this.
DD3 is exactly the same age as the slain children, and thinking about her going in to the school she loves in the morning, and coming out again in a body bag instead of on her scooter just about tips me over the edge. I have tears in my eyes just typing that sentence. As parents, it’s natural to not even want our children to know such a scenario is possible. I know many of us have been shielding our children from this story, I sure have.
Ignoring the news was a workable strategy over the weekend, but for those of us with children in State school, they have another week of school. Another week in the playground, another week of kids talking.
I’m not so worried about the four and the six year olds, their playground chat is mainly about who has what for lunch and what Santa might bring them. But my older two daughters are nine and ten; there are 360 children in their junior school. The chances that at least one of them hasn’t heard about this tragedy and wants to talk about it is remote. Kids love to freak their peers out with horror stories and I’m guessing it’s only a matter of time before one of my older two comes home asking questions. They will hear about it sooner or later anyhow as they both like to watch CBBC Newsround, and read First News and it’s bound to be mentioned in either of these places eventually.
Maybe I should have said something before they went into school today? I honestly don’t know, DD2 has a bit of a mouth on her and could quite possibly have been the one that informed the rest of the school, even if she’d been asked not to. I didn’t want to be responsible for that.
So what will I say to them? I don’t know. But I know I will talk to them about it, mainly to reassure them that it’s very unlikely that anything like this could happen in the UK. Gun laws are so much stricter over here, it would be hard for someone to get their hands on a weapon that could do so much damage , the police would stop them before they could hurt anyone etc, etc, etc. Platitudes really, and most of it possibly not exactly true. But the gist of it is and that’s what matters in a situation like this, I think. Sometimes it’s best not to be completely truthful with your kids.
Today is Monday, and Newtown is starting to prepare for the funerals for the first of the victims. It seems that the first buried will be children; something no parent should ever have to do, especially in such tragic circumstances and so close to the Festive season. I won’t be watching out for footage but I’m pretty sure it’ll be hard to avoid getting a glimpse of such tiny coffins on the way to their final resting places.
It’s going to be all over the news and parents everywhere will hug their children tight whenever they think about those poor parents and their empty arms. But while we clutch at our living, breathing offspring and give thanks for their safety, let us hope that this time America will do something about its outdated gun laws.
It actually looks like Connecticut might be the tipping point and that the people of America might finally say ‘Enough’.
And maybe, just maybe, we’ll be able to tell our children that those 26 lives weren’t lost completely in vain.