12.17.2012

How to feel safe when the world isn't

For the first time, I understood.

I finally know why, in the aftermath of a senseless tragedy people always say "I just want to go home and hug my kids." I felt that for the first time upon hearing about Sandy Hook Elementary School. It was a literal overwhelming need to get in my car and drive to Little Man's school and take him home and hide from the world.

It was awful and I imagine many other parents had the same knot in their stomach that I did.

I managed to finish the rest of the day at work. Afterwards, I picked Little Man up from daycare, took him home and played for a while and waited for The Man to get home. It was our usual routine, but felt so different that night. Instead of dinner and bedtime, we went to Culvers and ate veggie burgers, fries and chocolate shakes. We drove around and looked at Christmas lights. And we wondered, why?

And worse, what if it were us? Too awful to even think about.

I'm glad that Little Man is too young to know what was going on. Too young to ask why someone would want to hurt children. Too young to be afraid that it could happen to him.

But the realist in me knows that unfortunately, there will likely be more of these senseless acts. And one day he will ask why. How would we comfort him? How could we make him feel safe in a world where bad things happen?

I've heard people say that the Sandy Hook tragedy is a reason they want to home school their kids. And a reason to guns in the schools for teachers to use. (Pretty positive the answer is not to have more guns in schools.) What I really hear these parents saying is that they are scared. That hey want to protect their children from the unpredictability of the world.

Yeah, I'd love to do that too. But that isn't the world that we live in. There is no predicting how or when or where or why bad things will happen. They could happen at your home. Or the grocery store. Or a movie theater. Or at a school.

How can we ever protect them from the unknowable? The unpredictable? The unthinkable?

Instead, we are left to find a way to teach our kids to be resilient and strong. To have hope when things seem hopeless.

I come up short on answers about how to do this. This senseless tragedy made me scramble like a crab back to the rock of security. Because being with family and doing things that make us feel safe is really what we seek at a time like this.

And now I finally understand. That's why people always say they want to go home and hug their kids. Why we give them just a few more kisses. Why we pull them onto our laps for an extra snuggle. Why we read just one more night time story.

I'm thankful that we can do these things with our sweet boy tonight.

And heartbroken for those that can't.



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