Stories and thoughts about family and life

Then and Now

on December 17, 2012

I’m 41.  I’m from a small town in a rural part of Arkansas.  One of those towns where everybody knows everybody else.  I joke with my friends that I couldn’t turn around twice in town without someone calling my dad.    To top it off, we lived on a farm, 30 minutes from this small town.  It was even harder to do anything there that went unnoticed.  My days were filled with chores and riding my bike and hanging out with my dad.  I was a tomboy and I loved all things outdoors.  I didn’t mind getting greasy or dirty.  I loved being in the sunshine and I could drive anything you put me and spent a few minutes showing me how to operate.   We played in the toy section at Wal-Mart while Mom ran her errands around the store.  We rode all over the country and never worried about our neighbors harming us.  We left our windows down on our vehicles and many times left the keys in the ignition.  Yes, it was quite a few years back, but in the grand scheme of things it wasn’t that long ago.

I’m amazed at the things I hear on the news now.  Stories like Friday’s shooting in Sandy Hook have left me heart-broken and speechless.  I sat my children down Friday night and had a frank conversation with them about school safety and being aware of their surroundings.  This is followed by multiple conversations we have had about internet safety, stranger danger, “protecting you, protecting me” (a program from our church teaching children about appropriate physical interaction), and many more.   I’ve watched the images as you have the past several days–babies who had done absolutely nothing but show up for school, now being buried only a few days before Santa was going to brighten their lives with wonderful gifts.  Those parents who will never see their children again, and the fear those children must have experienced.  Those images and thoughts have left me paralyzed, and many times tearful.

It’s a different world from the one where I grew up, that’s for sure.  What’s it going to be like in another 20 years?  Is it going to continue to become a more frightening, scary place?  What are my grandchildren going to have to face when they go to school?  Is the answer more guns, or less?  More security, or more fear and awareness?  Is it video game or TV exposure, or just a world gone mad?  I never imagined growing up I would have to worry about my children in their classrooms, or in a movie theater, or in a mall.

Images and thoughts flood my mind.  I feel so strongly for the parents and families who have lost so much.  I wonder what makes a person think he needs to kill 20+ people and then kill himself.  I read articles about mental illness and try to comprehend what must be going on in someone’s head.  Was he aware of what he was doing?  I read stories of the President saying something has to change.  If that conversation progresses as well as preventing the fiscal cliff, we’re likely going to have to make it all change on our own.  I think about what the country, the world, is coming to.  When did it become alright to hurt so many other human beings in such a fit of rage, let alone a group of such small, innocent children?  I see articles comparing this to 9/11 for the small town of Sandy Hook, and I realize that for them that’s exactly what this was.  Watching the towers go down and knowing you couldn’t do anything about it except hope it wasn’t your loved one in the rubble.

I watched as my son’s music teacher passionately requested a moment of silence Saturday before the winter concert.  With tears in her eyes and her voice choking, she could barely contain her emotion as she requested that we bow our heads.  I thought for a moment about all my teacher friends, and that it could have been any one of them shielding those young babies from flying bullets, and how those people are as brave as any military service person.  How will teacher training change going forward?  Will they have to be taught to shield their unsuspecting children?  Would I have had the courage to do what they did?  I want to think I would have.

I hugged my children and cried Friday night.   I cried out of sympathy for the people who lost their lives, and for the families who were grieving.  I cried out of frustration and confusion that this has happened again with no real explanation about why.  But I cried mostly, and selfishly, because my kids are okay and standing in front of me.  Somehow the chores not being done and their rooms not being clean wasn’t such a big deal this weekend.

I was grateful to see that their school is meeting with staff members this evening to see about their security protocols and that my children all-in-all feel safe and comfortable at their school.  I think about the things my parents must have been concerned about when I was in school.  It truly is a different world.


One response to “Then and Now

  1. Chris says:

    I had my own times of tears this weekend and I think I hugged Kawika more this weekend than I have in a long time. He was patient with me, he understood why. I, too, feel a twinge of guilt.

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