For the most part, as a more experienced mama, I can put a lot of my worries to rest. It's easy to brush off a fleeting fear of drowning, getting hit by a car, being kidnapped. After all, I make a conscious effort to protect and teach Cole of these dangers. It's not like I'm going to leave him unattended any time we are close to water, right? Cole is super cautious already around cars - "HOLD MAMA HAND! CARS DA'RUS (dangerous)!" He ALWAYS wears a helmet when riding anything with wheels. We're already starting to teach him to scream and yell if someone is touching him or picking him up without his permission. He eats healthy food and plays outside daily to protect his body from childhood obesity and all those dangers. I follow all the guidelines for protecting children from sexual abuse. We own a safe car with the safest brand of carseat available.
I work hard to make sure I give Cole the tools and knowledge to protect him against all those dangers and fears. I KNOW that it's not productive to simply worry without DOING anything about it. I'm reminded of a friend who let her daughter outside to ride her bike on the street (without a helmet), then spent the whole time running frantically to the window to check on her every minute. At the time, I thought: "Why not put her in a helmet, teach her the rules of the road and to be aware of cars instead of worrying so much?" So that's what I do with Cole - I do whatever I can to give him the tools to be independent and knowledgeable with regards to the dangers of the world.
But try as I might, there are some things I simply cannot protect him from. Some dangers, that no matter how hard I try, I cannot protect him. I live in constant fear of Cole being diagnosed with cancer or another serious childhood disease. I am petrified that we might have a fire and I can't get to him in time.
And I can't bear the thought that my child might die in a place I thought he was safe - like at school.
Tell me, what tools can I give Cole to help him in a situation like that of Sandy Hook Elementary? How can I ever hope to protect him from a mentally unstable person wielding a semiautomatic gun?
My heart is broken.
I taught first grade and kindergarten.
I was in lockdown situations in my school where someone came into the school with the intent to do harm. I can picture the whole scene in my mind.
I can't bear to think of what those families are going through right now.
As always in such tragedy, I am overcome by a feeling of helplessness. Helpless to protect Cole from such a situation. Helpless to explain to him someday about such violence and evil people in the world. And helpless to DO anything to help, to heal, to bring peace and comfort to those grieving in Newtown.
But there are others out there who feel the same helplessness and are working hard to overcome that feeling:
-Go here to find out more information about making and sending paper snowflakes to Sandy Hook Elementary. The PTA would like to decorate their new location with hundreds of individual snowflakes sent to them from around the world, to bring a winter wonderland to the new environment.
-Ann Curry asked the world to perform 26 acts of kindness to honor those 26 lives lost. What better way to bring love and joy to a country grieving such a loss?
-“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers - so many caring people in this world.” — Mister Rogers
- "Daniel Barden, age 7, was laid to rest today in Newtown, CT. He wanted so badly to be a fireman some day like his uncle and cousin, who his family said he idolized and who are firefighters with the New York City Fire Department. So, look who showed up today to honor him—hundreds of firefighters, in their dress blues, from the FDNY and all across the country."
-The father of Emilie Parker, who even in his grief is praying for the shooter's family:
-And lastly, this research article, written by a criminologist who shares proof that although it feels like our world is becoming more violent and dangerous, we are actually at the lowest crime rate in forty years. A quote from the article:
"In the end, surveillance cameras and buzzers and locks and bars will never be as successful at protecting you as other human beings. Human beings who listen to those who are troubled, who provide support to those who need it, who reach out to the ostracized, and who lend a helping hand without being asked — those are the ones who truly prevent crime."
That, right there, is the most protection I can give Cole from the dangers of the world. Be kind. Be loving. Treat others with love and tolerance. Take care of strangers. Make friends with someone who is lonely. Find a career that helps. Do random acts of kindness. Love.
Because love will triumph over pain and sadness every day.