What I Want My Kids to Know About the Parkland School Shooting

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We live in a complicated world. I don’t know if it’s always been this twisted or if I’m only more aware of it as an adult. As a mother. What I do know is that almost on a daily basis there is something in the news that makes me feel a range of things – from anger to sadness to nausea.

 

Then I look at your faces. Your innocent little faces that smile at the smallest things. While our world is complicated, your perspective seems unaffected and I am beyond thankful for that. I wish I could bottle the laughter and levity under our roof and surround you with it forever so that you never had to understand the ugliness in the world and things like the burden of parenting during tragedy.

 

Last week the unthinkable happened just miles from our home. A monster went into a school and harmed and killed many innocent people. Children lost their lives as did some of the teachers trying to protect them. Families are forever changed and those who experienced it and survived are scarred. And now the world is angry. Some for different reasons than others but angry nonetheless.

 

You will likely notice some changes in your school. There will be more policemen there to keep you safe and your teachers might seem a little different. I never thought dropping you off at school would be so scary. I thought it would be a safe place. A place for you to learn, grow and play with your friends. But the truth is that this was not the first time a bad guy has taken his anger out on the grounds of a school. I’m embarrassed both as a citizen of this country and as a parent, whose job it is to keep you safe, to tell you how many tragedies there have been just like this.

 

I have genuine fear about the world you are growing up in, but I try to shield you both from it.

One day you will be old enough to understand the gravity of what happened in Parkland and the preceding instances of violence that keep me and many other parents up at night. I don’t know why we can’t fix it. I don’t know why keeping you safe isn’t a top priority for our country and government. I don’t understand why people are more concerned about political agendas and their individual rights than just doing what it takes to protect our schools.

 

The students and parents of Marjory Stonemen Douglas High School are now at the forefront of this fight and let me tell you something…they are incredible. I am in awe of the kids who are taking a stand to speak on behalf of the victims and this issue. Every single time one of them speaks and the clips make their way around the news channels and social media I am left speechless. They are intelligent, passionate, eloquent and are NOT backing down. They are fearless. All of the traits I hope you possess as you grow into young women.

 

I have to admit, it’s hard not to be skeptical that there will be any effective change because frankly, our nation has been here before…and again…and again…too many times to count. But I can’t shake the feeling that THESE kids might actually do it. I think they are even strong enough on their own to make an impact, but they have so many of us behind them as well. So, I am trying to have hope. It’s so hard, but I am trying. I want to believe that among the monsters capable of this savage behavior and those in our county that refuse to do anything REAL about it, that change is ahead. I want to believe that one day, I will drop you off at school without a pit in my stomach. I want to believe that kindness will win over evil. And I want you to believe those things too. I want you to always be aware of your surroundings. I want you to be vigilant about speaking up if something doesn’t feel right and not to give up no matter how many people tell you differently. If your gut is telling you something is off, don’t let anyone quiet you. I want you to be strong, brave and compassionate. Always take stock in what’s going on with those around you instead of focusing solely on yourself. I don’t want you to live in fear, but I do want you to understand that there are ugly and dangerous people in this world and I will do everything I can as a mother to protect you from them for the rest of my life.

 

I pray that as you grow, so does our society. I pray for the victims of MSD and the other senseless tragedies. I pray that the anger, grief and outrage in our community fuels the change we so desperately need in this country. I pray that we get this right and finally put an end to something that is so preventable.

 

I love you both with everything that I am and pray that this is the last tragedy of this kind we ever see.

#parklandstrong #MSDStrong #neveragain

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