Jul 26, 2014

Newtown Tragedy: A Time for Tears

On the gut-wrenching initial reaction, searching for answers and, eventually, making a difference and, eventually, talking to kids about the Newtown Tragedy

Newtown Tragedy: A Time for Tears


In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting the range of emotions run from terror to sadness to anger.

I can’t get the image of terrified little Kindergarteners out of my head. I tried distracting myself with mundane chores. I tried playing Lego’s with my Pre-K and first-grade children. I tried calling friends and family. I finally decided to write. After all, that is what I have been doing since I was in Kindergarten. I write when I am happy and I write when I am sad. But as a parent, you never want to write about this.

I was horrified when I saw the hoards of emails coming across my laptop about school security. Why would everyone be talking about this on a Friday afternoon before Christmas? I started to get that sick feeling in my stomach and quickly checked the news only to have my sick feeling turn to horror. This can’t be. I turned to another news source to confirm. It’s true. It’s evil. It’s a world I don’t want my children to learn about.

As tears rolled down my face I pictured my daughter sitting in her first-grade classroom. I pictured her laughing, learning and loving her life. I pictured her safe. But then I pictured her confused and scared face when she learns of the little lives lost, lives that had lived only as long as she has. I knew I was going to have to talk to both kids about this horror, if they hadn’t heard about it already.

I quickly picked up the phone and called my sister-in-law, a child psychologist, and my network of moms for advice. Most hadn’t processed the news yet, but they all had the same thoughts of sadness and remaining calm for their children.

I found many places online to turn to for help as well. My church put out information about talking to children about these kinds of tragedies and the American Psychological Association (APA) has a section under their most viewed category talking about it too. PBS has articles as does the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). And as the days pass more and more organizations will add their names to the list of places to look for help on the subject.

The best advice I got was to do a little dress rehearsal in your head before you chat with your kids. And so I told myself to keep it simple, keep it safe and keep it supportive.

I had to repeat these ideas in my head, all the while wiping the tears from my eyes, keeping the radio off in the car and hoping they hadn’t heard about the shooting from their friends.

I trust my children’s schools and think they have the right measures in place. I am confident when I drop when off that the school staff will do everything they can to keep my children safe. I have already heard from both children’s schools, and will continue the dialogue with them in weeks to come.

But the Tiger Mom in me wanted to jump in the car the moment I heard the news and pick up the kids immediately. I wanted to hold them, tell them I love them and never let them go -- ever.

Suddenly my sadness turned to anger. I asked the question people across the world are asking today, How could this have happened? Who did this to our children? And what can we do to keep the most innocent of our world protected?

Then I decided that was too much to tackle today. Today I was going to mourn the little ones lost and the brave adults who tried to save them. Today I was going to cry and be a parent who is scared for the children of our country.

Tomorrow I will try to make sense of it all. Tomorrow I will try to make a difference but not today. Today is for tears. 

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