A couple of weeks ago, I changed the news alert settings on my phone because I was growing weary of of the constant bombardment of breaking news. When my phone would buzz, I’d be met with alert about Kylie Jenner instead of an email for which I’d been anxiously waiting. I was over it.
The weather was unseasonably warm yesterday afternoon, which is why a lot of parents gathered at the playground after school and chatted while our kids ran their little hearts out. A group of us moms discussed our concerns over the testing culture in our country and the rigorous coursework at our particular school. It was a casual conversation but also one that had the occasional shimmer of “are we doing the right thing for our children?” We also chatted about life, shared funny tales, and corrected our children when necessary. After about an hour, we gathered our kids, their backpacks, and their Valentine’s Day boxes and walked home.
It was on the walk home that I mindlessly checked my CNN app and was met with the horrific news from Florida about the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that would result in 17 dead. Children and education professionals were subjected to an afternoon of terror. The police apprehended the shooter and the school was cleared – one witness commented on the haunting sound of cell phones belonging to the dead ringing and buzzing throughout the halls of the school. Social media exploded with thoughts, prayers, condolences, and references to the buckets full of school shootings in the United States – with particular focus on Sandy Hook.
Yesterday afternoon, I sat with a group of moms as we wondered out loud if our children were thriving at their current school. We talked about reading comprehension, i-Ready scores, and learning styles. We discussed how to keep them enjoying school and engaged in the learning process. But we did not talk about lockdown procedures. We didn’t talk about what it must feel like to hear the news that your child was murdered by a gunman in their classroom. We didn’t talk about kids fumbling with their phones in order to send out final text messages to their parents. We didn’t talk about the sound of gunfire in the halls or how it must feel to stare at a barrel of a gun.
We probably should’ve.
I will not accept mass shootings as part of the American experience. This is not normal. This year I will become more involved in the fight.