The world has suddenly become a dangerous place. I keep looking out of my window. Across the street, behind my neighbor’s yard, I can see the playground at the school. I am aching to see children running and playing as usual at recess. But the playground is silent.
Our school is safe. Our neighborhood is safe. The playground is probably silent because it is not recess time. But our world has been shaken by the elementary school shooting in Connecticut. It has taken all of my willpower not to run out my front door and go get my kids out of school.
It is times like these that I wish I was at work. It is too quiet here for this stay-at-home mom, and I don’t seem to have the ability to get my work around the house finished. Or even started, for that matter.
So I write. And I think about what to tell my children, if they ask about what happened today. What I want them to know above all is that they are safe. Even in my heart of hearts, where I know I cannot always keep them safe, when you are 5 and 8 years old you have the right to feel safe.
All the teachers, administrators and staff at every school everywhere have the desire to keep their students safe. Doors are locked, drills are performed, security is tight. I know from being a teacher and a parent that this is true. But somehow, in some way, someone got through the safety procedures today, and it is likely no one’s fault. Yesterday at this time, Newtown, Connecticut was safe. No one could have imagined the terror that happened today. I am filled with horror, fear, and anger. How could this happen?
I have been praying and crying all afternoon, but as I write this blog post, I am pulling myself together for my kids.
If you are in the same spot as myself, wondering what to tell your kids, here are a couple of resources. I like this article from ABC, because it has some specific age guidelines.
This NBC article has some more specific ways to address older children’s concerns.
Even though we as parents know how scary this world can be, we can still give our children the sense of safety that they need.
UPDATED 12/15/12 I picked up both my girls from school yesterday, and we are all safe and sound. They didn’t know anything about the school shooting, and I’m keeping it that way for now. I don’t know if they will hear something from their friends or even me and my husband, but the news on the TV is staying OFF. We received a wonderful email from our principal yesterday saying our kids simply don’t need to know, and an attachment from a children’s specialist with suggestions about what to say if they do find out. They have had lock-down drills and relocation drills at our school, so I know my kids and their teachers know what to do in case of emergency. I’ve also found a great article that talks about what to say from a Christian perspective. It’s called “How and What to Share With Your Children When Tragedy Strikes.”
I continue to pray for all those families in Connecticut, as I know you do, too.