What I Told my Son

Thor is a very smart boy, who lives with parents who listen to talk radio, watch the news, and are fairly plugged in. It would be hard for him to miss out on a story like the one coming out of Newtown, CT today. It was also going to be hard for him to miss that I’d been crying before I picked him up from school. So, when he got in the car today, after he’d told me all his news, I told him what had happened.

Me: So, something very sad happened today, Bud.
Thor: Oh…then I don’t want to know.
Me: Normally, I wouldn’t tell you, but this is very sad, and important, and you’re going to hear it on the news and maybe from other children at school, so I’d rather tell you about it first, okay?
Thor: Okay.

He sat frowning with consternation as I explained, “A very sick man went into a school in the state of Connecticut today, and he shot a lot of people. He killed several people, including some children. It is important that you know it happened, but I want you to know that your school sent me an email earlier (and they had) telling me what security they have in place so that something like that doesn’t happen in your school. I believe you are very safe, and I know [your teacher] will always take very good care of you. Okay? I believe you are completely safe.”

He said okay.

Me: It’s okay to be upset about this. It’s also okay if you aren’t upset. It made me cry. Daddy didn’t cry. It’s okay if you want to cry, and okay if you don’t.
Thor: Was Daddy sad?
Me: Yes. It made Daddy sad. It is a very sad thing.
Thor: Okay.
Me: Do you want to talk about anything else about it?
Thor: No!

He was emphatic. I told him we would talk about something happy, and reminded him that if he decided he did want to ask questions, he could. He said great and we talked about football.

All the while, I was thinking of 20 sets of parents who would give anything to be talking about football. 20 sets of parents who have to go home to houses that are far too quiet, look at presents under the tree that won’t be opened, who are waiting for an investigation to be completed so that they can get their children’s bodies out of that school. I said to my mom that they would have to sedate me, and probably with a tranquilizer in a scene that resembled something from Wild Kingdom–I couldn’t stand thinking my child’s little body was being left as part of a crime scene. I would lose my mind. I would absolutely lose my mind.

I am so sorry for those families. So very, very sorry.

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