After hearing about the shootings in Connecticut, I felt numb. I can recall exactly where I was when September 11, 2001 occurred. It was a weekday so I was at office. I remember the group going into the conference room to watch the news. The VP suggested we take a moment of silence. My tween turned one, 6 days before. He was extremely young so fortunately I did not have to explain the details. When he started school the questions began with questions on what happened. It was difficult to avoid the discussion because each year the anniversary is marked with memorials.
In the past year there were the shootings in Wisconsin at the Sikh temple, the shooting at the movie theater in Aurora, CO and most recently the shootings at the Newtown, Connecticut elementary school. The Newtown story hit hard around the country because the majority of the victims were children. When this hit the news it was difficult to digest something of this nature occurring at an elementary school. I distinctly remember the story at Columbine so how could I fathom young and innocent lives just gone. As a parent I never thought twice about dropping one child off and now I have two children at two different schools. It never crossed my mind that at any given time during the day I could freely walk into my son’s school. The only requirement was reporting to the office to sign in as a visitor and pick up a name tag. It was just NORMAL.
My first thought was for the parents of the children who lost their lives. How could any law enforcement officer or administrator forge enough courage to make that call? The news highlighted the first responders because they had the arduous task of being the first on the scene and the horrific evidence they witnessed. When I watched the news yesterday I saw the town had prepared for two funerals and as the news reported there were more to follow. I wonder how does a small town recover from the severity of these events and how as a parent can you convince a child that school is a safe haven? The town plans to reopen an unused middle school to replace Sandy Hook elementary school.
School is where my kids go to grow, learn, develop friendships with their peers and there is such a calming spirit within a school when kids are working hard. During recess, you can hear kids running around on the playground, laughing, giggling, games and “outside voices” with kids being care fee.
The first thing I noticed on Monday when I dropped off my son was the news van with the reporter and cameraman waiting to interview parents at drop off. Then I noticed the local police district dropped off an officer at the school. Today, when we arrived at drop off an officer’s car was parked in front. Tonight, there was police car in front of the school. My son’s schools locked the doors after a certain time and all visitors are required to ring the bell to get buzzed inside. Some schools have school police on a full-time basis and others have weekly spot checks by officers. Initially the site of school police inside of the school was intimidating for me because it was unfamiliar in terms of what I called NORMAL. When I picked up my DD on Friday, I walked freely into her school and the impact of Connecticut hit me hard. Today my DD’s school implemented keeping all doors to the building locked and instructed parents to ring the bell or call before pick up.
All of these events have put in me in state of feeling numb. It is a challenge for me to create what I know as NORMAL for my kids to feel secure and safe. I feel like the carefree and innocence of childhood is being stripped with each event. My tween is definitely aware of the details in Newtown and he appears to be fine with his everyday routine. My DD who is only 6yo briefly heard it on the news. She is at that “What happened” stage if I’m watching the news with a reaction. I basically told her some children were harmed without all the details. She moved on to her next thought that was unrelated. I breathed a sigh of relief. The new NORMAL definitely requires a lot of shielding to maintain a strong sense of security.
Have the events in Newtown impacted your NORMAL?