Last Friday as we all took in the terrifying news of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, a lot of us had the same automatic impulse to grab our kids close and never let them go, an understandable reaction to witnessing every parent’s worst nightmare playing out on our televisions. I was not surprised to see many of my friends make the same comment: “Looks like home schooling is in our future.” While I shared in this reaction and completely sympathize with the reasoning, it also raised some red flags in the back of my mind. Let me start by saying there are many many valid reasons why people choose to home school their kids. I am in no way against home schooling, though it is not part of our family’s plan. I am, however, wary of the reasoning behind many of our reactions to Friday’s news. I know I personally said several times “I am never letting my kids leave my house,” and while that is obviously an exaggeration, the idea behind it is the same: there are scary monsters out in the world and I am going to do everything I can to protect my kids. But where do we draw the line? Do we home school our kids just in case some disturbed individual decides to go on a rampage? Do we never let our kids get on an airplane again? Go to the movies? Go to the mall? The bottom line is that as much as we might want to (and oh my would I love to), we can’t wrap the whole world in bubble wrap. We can teach our kids to look both ways when crossing the street, to not eat questionable berries, to not date guys with motorcycles, but we simply cannot protect them from unpredictable, unimaginable tragedy. That is terrifying. Our impulse to hunker down and hold our babies and never let them leave our sight is instinctual, it comes from the deepest animal parts of us as parents. The question is: is that really the life we want for our children? A life lived in fear of the unknown is not a life truly lived. I’m no expert, but isn’t that the point of these sort of attacks, to incite terror?
I don’t know the answers here, I’m not even sure of the questions anymore. I am at a complete and total loss at how to deal with a tragedy so unthinkable. We all frantically search for meaning, we shout aimlessly about gun control and mental health reform. I can’t fathom the “everything happens for a reason” here, but it is our nature, it is how we function, how we comprehend, and so we set out to find the good. We find good in the stories of heroic teachers, in the support of a community, and we are reminded to love loudly and with abandon.
So this is me, at a loss, trying to comprehend.