quiet quiet me
Some people think social media is a great “place” to be after horrific events, but I have not found that to be the case. Sure, I raged for a while on Twitter and Facebook, because I believe that yes, it is about guns, in large measure. I believe that saying, “Let’s not politicize this” is a very sneaky and disenfranchising way of doing exactly that. I believe there is nothing particularly special or contemporary about the 2nd amendment, and that a truly tyrannical government could have your ass in a secret prison faster than you could even say the WORD “gun.” I believe that America really is in a unique position with its vast acreage and long history of hunting, farming, and pioneering, and that guns were and are a part of that. I also believe that the Freedom Tree does not need periodic watering with the blood of schoolchildren and mall shoppers, so Something needs to be done. No, I don’t know what the Something is.
All that outrage and mobilizing action aside, though, I found myself feeling better (not great, but better) when I tuned out all the news and noise and was just plain old sad for a while. I read some heartbreakingly-short victim biographies and lit some candles and cried. And every time I looked at my perfect little person I thought what I always think: Please, let me stay lucky.
Nora and I did not talk about the school shooting in any depth. I gave her a bit of a bare-bones outline and she quickly interrupted me with, “Things like that are very rare.” I don’t know if that was anxious bravado, a way to shut me up, or her true feelings, but I honestly suspect the last one—she has never been very good about hiding her fears, few as they are, and she is not a particularly sensitive kid. I made a few more overtures about being available to discuss anything, anywhere, anytime.
In some ways I question the flood of “how to discuss this with young children” articles. (I’m not totally alone on this.) I could be wrong, but I doubt this shooting will be a topic of discussion among pre-teens. There may be that one kid in the class who loves the news, but most kids do not. You could sit your child down and tell them at least one terrible thing a day, if you chose to—but I’m pretty sure that would not be a good idea.
If a kid has heard “something,” I would definitely make sure the info was correct, because rumors and exaggerations don’t help a little kid’s fears. (Ask me sometime about how little-kid me worried that a watertower near our house was a nuclear reactor. FOR YEARS!) I would stress the improbability of the tragedy and the competence of the people in charge. But if a kid is in a bubble of current-events ignorance, I certainly wouldn’t rush in there with a pin, and I won’t listen to people who say it is irresponsible not to.
—mimi smartypants has opinions.