When I heard the news about the Columbine shooting in 1999, I was a young reporter on my lunch break, going through a drive through in Ohio for a coffee or Diet Coke, I can’t remember.
It was a horrible day.
But I didn’t have children of my own then.
I sat at my desk today in our newsroom and watched the news come in of the 20 children and 7 adults killed in Newtown, Conn., and with each word released, I felt more and more horrified. I stared at the wire, as reports came in. I listened to CNN. To my coworkers.
Every part of me is humming. Vibrating with fear and this awful, awful desire to quit my job. Walk out. Get my children from their daycare and hide us away at home. The knowledge that I will never, truly, be able to keep them safe in the world is sickening. You know it, the minute you realize you’re pregnant, that “vulnerable” means something completely different.
What’s most horrifying about Friday, besides the thought, which I can barely think, of kindergartners huddling in fear before being gunned down, is that it could happen anywhere. This, reportedly, was a family member of the teacher.
Schools, daycares, preschools, all have safety measures. My own daycare requires a keycard to go in and get your child. Yet I’ve held that door for others. I’ve forgotten my card and been let in by other parents. It’s a false sense of security.
And in this case, it was someone who was known.
My friend shared with me earlier this year about how her daughter learned about lockdown and what to do if a “man with a gun” came into her classroom. My first thought was, I can’t believe we have to prepare kids for this. That this is our air raid. And, then, that we shouldn’t be so specific. Sure, it’s usually a man with a gun. But it might not be.
You can’t look at someone and immediately know what he or she is capable of. And that’s what’s most frightening.
I’m grateful my two children are too young to know what happened today. That I won’t have to explain it to them. That instead, they’ll just enjoy – or be annoyed by – the hugs they get. And how will I explain to the other parents at daycare – who I’ll stare at. Which one of them has the possible relative capable of this? Which one of them is capable of this? Are they wondering that about me?
We all want to trust others, to lean on people. To believe, ultimately, in the good of humanity. I want to believe it. I need to, to get out of bed every morning. To be able to go to work and put my kids in someone else’s care every day.
But it’s hard. God. It’s so hard.