Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Another Shooting

I hate that I need to write this. You have heard the news I'm sure. Another shooting.  It seems like it is a headline everyday.  I try my hardest to keep my sons in the dark about this subject.   It comes on the television news and I turn it off, it comes on the radio, I turn it off, it pops up on my computer screen, I close my laptop.  But last week it happened so close to home it was hard to stop the constant media attention to it.

It happened at a local grocery store chain.  The one that we shop. The only one my boys know about.  It wasn't the location that we shop at, but in a town close by.  Two women were killed. One was 20 and the other was 44.  It didn't take long for me to figure out that one of the victims was the sister of a friend.  A girl I went to high school with.  It hit home figuratively and literally.

But because it didn't happen to me,  I'm on the sideline. A spectator in someone else's horror story.  But this time, it is someone I know, who I can picture hearing the news and can envision her world fall apart.

My oldest son has been having nightmares lately.  The other night it was about our dog, Wally getting beaten to death by a gang.  He wakes up and relives his dream with the same amount of terror.  I do what I can to calm him down and bring him back to reality. Show him that Wally is alive and let him know he is ok.

Yesterday I announced to the house that I was going to the store.  I do this about twice a week in hopes that someone will go with me but usually everyone hides and I don't hear anything until I have drudged all the groceries into kitchen. Suddenly they become interested.

Yesterday wasn't any different except right before I left Parker asked if he could come with me.  I told him that he was welcome too, but that he was not getting a chocolate chocolate chip Frappacino assuming that was his motivation. He said he knew and just wanted to come with me.

As I pulled into the parking lot, he asked if this was the same store that the shooter had killed that "mom".  I told him no, and that we were safe. Trying to believe it myself. But in the back of my mind, I too was thinking about it.  As we walked in, he asked what he should do if a shooter did come in.   I don't want to avoid the conversation, but I am hoping to forget that this is our reality. I tried to speak quietly out of respect to anyone who may also be feeling nervous shopping.

I tried my hardest to not seem alarmed, and continued to walk and talk saying that if this were to happen, which it won't,  that he was to run.  Run as fast and as hard and as far as he can away from trouble.

"But what about you?"

I told him that I will take care of myself.

"But I don't want to leave you." What if you get shot and nobody is there to help you?" "What if you just got shot in your knee, and just needed someone to carry you?" "If I run away, I wouldn't be able to help you when you need it."

I told him I was tough and that I have lived a good life and I want him to have that opportunity too, so run as fast and as far away as he can. I was trying to pacify his worry, but it came out harsher than I had hoped.

By this time we are in the produce aisle and I wanted to end this conversation.  I turn around and get him a Grande chocolate chocolate chip Frappacino even though it's 7:00 at night.

It's no wonder he has been having violent nightmares. His brain is trying to process harm done to someone innocent. In his mind innocence is represented by his beloved dog.  When I was ten, my biggest fear were fictional characters like witches or ghosts. Kids are forced to face some real adult fears yet, they don't have the ability to process it.

I want to bring him back to childhood. A childhood that I remember.  His childhood reality is much scarier than mine ever was and as a mother, even I don't know how to help him.

The magnitude of his words didn't hit me until this morning.  I guess I was busy trying to hide the fact that I am just as scared as he is and even more afraid that this is a legitimate fear and yes, it could happen to me, or you or anyone. The truth is,  I don't believe that there is a safe place anymore.   Like a punch in the stomach I realized that the only reason he wanted to come with me was to protect me.

I didn't mean to, but I completely disregarded is natural urge to protect his mother.  I guess I always believed that I should be the protector.  I never thought in a million years that my son would feel the need to accompany me to the grocery store so that he could carry me to safety in the event that I was shot.

That is too heavy of a burden for a 10 year old to have to bear.  If there is one thing I am proud of, was that his natural instinct was to help me and not chose to fight back.  A ten year old boy who loves to play video games, and who loves Nerf guns and army men knows that the solution is not to fight back, but to help.  A solution of compassion and peace.

I have fear for my son's future and the problems that they will face. More innocent lives are going to be lost as long as guns can easily get into the hands of the wrong people.

I have faith that he, along with his peers will be part of the solution.

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