Friday, December 14, 2012

Shot Through the Heart

This morning I drove the girls to the elementary school, where Kristina went into her Kindergarten class and I brought Adrianna into the preschool classroom next door for her to visit before she starts after the winter break. She was evaluated again last month, and Child Find determined that needs continuing speech therapy services, but now that she's going to be three they require it to be through the elementary school therapist program, hence her starting at the preschool.

After visiting for a while, I drove Adrianna to her regular preschool and headed home myself for a much needed nap. After all, yesterday began with a 4am shift at work and ended with Adrianna's preschool post-holiday performance potluck dinner, so I felt somewhat justified in my overwhelming desire to spend what little time was left in the non-kid part of the day with my pillow.

A few hours and two snoozes later, I pulled up my facebook feed.

And it was filled with comments about the elementary shooting in Connecticut.

No sooner had I tracked down and read a couple actual news articles about it than emails from the Nederland elementary school started showing up in my email.

And I find myself in an interesting place.

I was in middle school here in Colorado when the Columbine High School shootings happened. I remember my mother being freaked out by it, and watching the news as it was unfolding and they kept adding to the victim count. The effects were felt for years afterwards, as we practiced drills all through my high school tenure about what to do in a "lock down" situation (aka someone is on a shooting rampage) and had regular assemblies on everything from depression in yourself to watching your classmates for troubled behavior indicators.

And at the time I thought the level of fear and paranoia being shown was unwarranted. 

But now I am a parent of a Kindergartener. I totally get the base emotional response of wanting to go snatch them up immediately and not let go of them. Because somehow, if you just hold them tight enough, they will be kept safe.

The world doesn't work like that though.

Horrible things happen in seemingly senseless and cruel ways.

If it's not a shooting in a Kindergarten class, it's an airplane being hijacked, or a military base being targeted, or a drunk driver fatally crashing into a dozen cars.

You cannot live your life terrified that at any second something like that could happen to you.

It could. It totally could be you or your child or your family any one of these times. And the most pragmatic reason for it NOT being you or your child or your family lies heavily with dumb luck.

However, it also can be statistical.

Yes, today 18 small children went to school and didn't come home. However, how many days in how many Kindergartens across the country was that not the case for how many years? You have to trust a world that is entirely unpredictable and untrustworthy that tomorrow will hold true to yesterday, and that today is an extremely rare unlikely anomaly in what will happen. 

Of course, telling a parent of a dead 5 year old that their baby is a statistical anomaly doesn't mean jack shit to them.

And so then balancing objective reason, personal emotion, and compassion becomes an even more complicated juggling act.

Personally, I am glad for my time as a military spouse. It gave a crash course in dealing with that soul crushing wave of fear that came every time there was another casualty within his deployed unit. This fear is real, but so is the ability to control it within oneself, and the knowledge that you cannot let it consume your life.

The fear for my children is real. But Kristina will stay at school until the last bell rings and she is loaded onto the school bus to come home today. And I will hug her and ask her how her day was and we will walk into the house with her chattering a million miles a minute about her friends like she does every day and I will smile at her being incredibly grateful she is safe. And come Monday morning, I will load her back onto the school bus to go back to Kindergarten just like nothing changed at all.

Because that is all I can do.

And hope and pray that the next statistical anomaly isn't going to be my family, isn't going to be someone I love.

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