I had intentions on coming to this blog today with a super cute post on how to make your summer more colorful. But in light of the events that happened yesterday, there are a lot of people who won’t have color or joy in their summers – and it didn’t feel right, for me, the girl who always wanted to be a writer, to not put my thoughts and feelings down somewhere.
Yesterday morning, we did our normal school morning routine. Sheff got up, took a shower, got dressed, ate his breakfast and packed up his backpack for the last day of school. I took that picture above yesterday morning before dropping him off at his elementary school. I picked him up after an uneventful last day of school and brought him home. We went bowling and out to dinner to celebrate. He did, after all, make all S’s (equivalent of A’s for first grade), and completed the school year being able to go on to the second grade.
I cannot imagine not being able to say those last three sentences. I cannot imagine that his last day of first grade picture would be the last picture I have of him. I cannot imagine having to go through what so many parents have had to go through – having their children murdered in school. A place where they are supposed to be safe. These are children. CHILDREN. Louder and bolder for the people in the back who don’t quite comprehend that.
My kid is six. Six years old. In addition to tornado and fire drills, they practice “bad guy” drills. He. Is. Six. They practice turning all the lights out, hiding, and staying away from the door. They had to go into a code red earlier this year when a robbery suspect sped by the road the school is on and slammed his car into a power pole. Sheffield said he was scared – that there were other kids in his classroom who were crying. But he was told they needed to be quiet. That they had to stay hidden and stay silent. This is in no way normal – and nor should it ever become that way.
We have expected our children to adapt to these heinous school shootings. The teachers are trained. They drill our kids. Teachers are there to teach. They are not there to be police officers, and to arm them is the most asinine and irresponsible approach. The answer to bad guys with guns is not good guys with guns. That has been proven over and over and over to NOT work. There were “good guys” with guns in Buffalo. And in Uvalde. And 31 people were still senselessly murdered.
If you’ve ever seen the movie Home, you’ll get the next sentence, but I was and am sad-mad. It may have been the second time I have cried in front of Sheffield, but we sat down and we talked about it. He asked me if kids got hurt. I told him yes. He asked me if they got really hurt. I told him yes. He asked me if teachers or grown-ups got hurt. I told him yes. We talked about the boy who came into the school and shot kids in a classroom. That those kids won’t be able to go home tonight to their beds or moms and dads or brothers and sisters or even to their favorite stuffed animals. We talked about the importance of listening if something like that were to ever happen in his school. He promised me that would never happen to him. I did not have the heart or the guts to tell him that he just can’t promise that. I hugged him and we watched an episode of Bob’s Burgers – stuff that makes us happy.
But I did also get mad. In public spaces, I normally keep quiet about things. I much prefer to keep the peace in all situations, but I can’t anymore. I reached out on social media for advice from people who are better at this than me. I did the small things – I donated to Everytown and the gofundme for Uvalde. I joined a local chapter of Moms Demand Action. I wrote to and called Senator Shelby. I am working on identifying the local representatives and doing the same. I will not idly sit back and be quiet anymore. I will not be quiet when 19 children are murdered – hours after receiving awards for being on honor roll. Hours after their parents saw them for the last time and didn’t know it. That is not the country I want to live in, and it shouldn’t be the one you want to live in either.