Since the shooting in Florida, there have been threats upon threats of mass shootings at my daughters school. I didn’t want to bring up the topic, I didn’t want to ask her if she had thought of a safety plan…. but I knew it was something that needed be brought up, and I knew I needed to prepare her.
“Kiddo, we need to talk. I need to bring to something to your attention no matter how scary it might be. The ugly reality is that there are people out there targeting schools across the United States. Have you thought about this? What are you feeling? Have you made a safety plan..” I never thought I would have to explain a safety procedure to my sixteen year old on how to keep safe at school if there were to be a mass shooting. During the entire conversation, during the entire time of hearing her thoughts, and explaining to her that she will be safe… I carried a feeling so heavy in my chest I thought my heart may stop… “what if she doesn’t come home at the end of the day”.
“I’ll just call you and Mom… even if I can’t respond. I know your voices will get me through it.” My heart is still sinking by this response, my eyes are still getting watery by this response, and I’m still angry over this response. My daughter feels as though my wife and I can keep her safe no matter what the situation is, and although I’m happy to know our daughter trusts us and feels safe with us, I’m angry at the world for making me realize the ugly truth that we can’t always protect her, I’m even angrier that this is now the reality our children face.
They no longer come to us for make up advice or boy troubles. They no longer come to us for hugs when they’ve had bad days. They no longer call us from school just to say “hi, I miss you.” They come to us, with fear in their hearts and terrifying nightmares that they will be next. They come to us terrified to go to the one place they are supposed to be safe. They come to us asking what they can do in a situation to buy back 5 more minutes of their lives. They come to us asking how to barricade a door from an active shooter. They come to us asking that if this happens… do they run past their class mates leaving them alone on the ground, or stay put to save them. They come to us asking if we think they will be safe tomorrow.
How…. how did our world get to this. How do I explain to my daughter that she will be scared for a long time… possibly forever after this tragedy. How do I get her to understand that she needs to keep herself safe and hide in the event of another tragedy. How do I let my child go to school tomorrow…?
We teach our children to be fearless in a world where mass shootings are killing other children their ages…. how do I prepare myself as a parent…. to prepare my child for this?