“Have you told them yet,” was the question among parents post the Connecticut tragedy all weekend. Like many of my friends, we kept the news off as we sorted through the best way and time to discuss it with our boys. While I couldn’t predict their reaction, I wanted to prepare my words carefully not to instill fear of going to school, at the same time, I didn’t want to desensitize them.
It could’ve been their friends, their classmates – it could’ve been them. How does a parent have this discussion, without knowing any answers? I still get choked up thinking how most of the victims were born the same year as Samu. Like many children, my boys get scared when they see me cry. I hardly cry at all and when I had, the reason was understood. There was always a resolution, too – but this time, I have nothing. Not even a direction I can point them to for forgiveness because I don’t have an ounce of it in my heart for this killer.
I might even begin the conversation, “Boys, remember when you asked about Hitler and I told you he was a very bad man that killed a lot of people for no reason but that it was a long time ago and could never happen again? Well, I was wrong…”
“And in closing, don’t forget what I’ve taught you about child predators, bullies, kidnappers, drug dealers, homeless psychopaths and serial killers. If The List changes, I’ll let you know.”
When I was small, my parents would have with me, these wayward conversations of precaution by stating a truth they learned as children who survived the War – men can be evil. Unfathomably evil. When you understand because you’ve witnessed what evil we can do, peace is either non-existent or an exception to the rule: that we’re murderers and we have been since the beginning of time. We won’t have to face it as long as there are people who search high and low to give us something else to blame – drugs, guns, the government, disease, the social environment, a certain race of people – take these things away and we’ll return to our upright position.
It’s about as sensible as the deaths of those eighteen children.
I don’t know what to say. There really is nothing anyone can say and I wish those people trying to turn this into a lesson to help their cause would just drown themselves – no parent is ever prepared to outlive their little baby. Unless they can Tweet, “I have a machine that can turn back time and diffuse this whole thing,” I don’t want to hear their opinion on how this could’ve been prevented. If they’d shut up long enough, they could actually let us heal with the silent phenomenon that is happening everywhere – empathy.
Those parents aren’t mourning alone. That’s peace for me.
For the record, I did talk to Samu this morning because his school announced they’d be having a moment of silence. I just told him how last Friday, a lot of little children – were killed. “Were they babies?” He asked me.
“No. Many of them were the same age as you and your classmates,” I replied as tears welled up.
Then he started crying, too. “You mean, my classmates are dead?”
I smiled only because of the innocence of the way children understand. But I felt the pain for those parents who have to say yes to that question.
After I assured Samu that his classmates and friends are all okay, I told him he should appreciate today. That he gets to go to school and see his friends and his inspirational teacher and to make it the best day in honor of those children who will not be going back today or ever.
And for the first morning since school started, he hadn’t once said, “I don’t want to go to school today.”