Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Reactions

I know a little guy who talks a lot, is sometimes too loud, and occasionally he has a short fuse. He is also the most cheerful person I know particularly in the morning, a true anomaly in our family. He gives lots of hugs and cracks jokes like a British comedian which seems surprising for a seven year old. His emotional responses to life have a pinpoint accuracy nonetheless. His reflections have given me pause more than I could have imagined.

We don't have the TV connected to our house. Our local paper delivery service is thus far intermittent. I  read the New York Times online and so graphic images are censored at our house by virtue of this lifestyle choice we made nine years ago.

The murder of school children and the adults in their school was painful to read about. The still photos were more than enough for me. My heart goes out to those families.

Reading the response of parents driving to the school, hitting traffic, leaving their cars, to run, running to the school, running to find out if their kiddo was ... tough stuff. It rang around in my head all weekend.

The tragedy was mentioned at church on Sunday from the pulpit. We talked about it with friends while our children were in the vicinity. We did not however speak directly with them about it. My husband suggested we wait for them to bring it up, but they didn't.

I was confident that we had made the right decision not to specifically address it with our children until they left for school on Monday morning which was when it hit me,  other children, if they had seen the news, would be talking about it. Too late; my kids were out the door and on the way. My husband, the voice of reason around here, said, "So we'll talk with them when they get home. Just because you're reacting to it (night and day), doesn't mean they are." Guilty.

After school the teacher sent a note letting us know that it had been brought up in the morning meeting. My husband seeing the email asked the Moose, "Did you talk about what happened in Connecticut at school today?" "Yeah," said the Moose. "Was it scary?" asked my husband. The Moose paused as his way as he deliberated, and then he said, "Not really, it was shocking and it was a little sad."

Shocking and a little sad, so it was.

Kids are resilient, they don't want to stay down long. They take things in stride that I tend to ruminate on, replaying and overanalyzing what is done which can be paralyzing when it holds us back replaying and replaying tragedy instead of moving on to the next moment present. Life moves on even if we don't. History shows that we start new wars with technology to fight the last war because we operate from the past.

As we consider policy changes and safety measures, I hope we keep at the center what is good for our children. By this I hope we support our children and their teachers, not with things that add to their stress and daily hassle which in the end become meaningless, but instead make deliberate choices that strengthen their inner resources and create learning environments that make learning and safety the default way everyday. Despite the horrific moments in the news, lots of good things happen everyday. I'd like children to be prepared for a life of good so that even when shocking sadness strikes, there is a resilience to reach for the present moment instead of hunkering down in fear and anger.

Reach for love. Offer friendship. Help.

I'd venture to say that neglect and anxiety made more bad guys than did guns which only means that we have to care for the least of us.