I don't know really how we talk to our kids about violence. All violence is in essence senseless. How do we explain such things to our children? Truly, I don't know. But what I do know is that these huge acts, they are rare, so, so very rare. And yet they have the ability to petrify us all.
Some days I think I'm jaded, desensitized. Not by violence in video games or on TV, because, honestly, I try to avoid those at all costs. But by the events that make the national news, such as Newtown. Or, perhaps, it's just that I just try to keep myself removed from them.
Because every day I see the effects of violence. I see the 2mon old in the PICU who was shaken and will likely never regain his vision or lose the seizures. I see the toddler with more broken bones than years. I see the child my son's age with an adult handprint across his face. I see the teenager, furious, whose experience has been that the world has allowed untold horrors to happen to her for years. I see them. Every day.
And these are the incidents of violence I have the hardest time explaining - to myself, much less to my children. The public (albeit so horrific) ones, those I can attribute to significant mental health issues of the assailant. Or guns that are too easily accessible. The ones I see daily though, for most of those, there is no explanation that allows me to feel any peace.
As many are questioning on FB "who kills kids?!!!", or "why would someone do this to innocent children??!!!", I keep thinking, lots of people. Every damn day. They may not take guns and kill 25 people in a public place, but people are beating and killing children every day in the US. Every. Fucking. Day.
And yes, I want you all to be upset and angry about the victims of Newtown. But I also want you to be upset and angry for daily victims of violence. Because it's happening. In the US. In your state. In your town. It's happening.
I don't say any of this to diminish the horror of Newtown, the deaths of the children, the grief of so many. I recognize the senselessness and awfulness of what happened. I can hardly imagine the pain of the parents, the other students, the first responders, the community. But I say it because the horror of being hurt is the daily reality of many children.
And so, as saddened as I am by this tragic, crazy shooting, worrying that something like this could happen to my children, or children I know, is not what will keep me awake at night. It is the faces of the children I see every day, they are the ones I worry about at night. They are the ones who I think about after they leave. They are the ones whose futures I fear for.
I don't know what you or I can do to stop things like Newtown from happening. But I do know there are a multitude of things I can do, you can do, to keep the children we see every day safe. And I guess... I think... I hope... that helping these children perhaps will help all of our hearts feel a little less helpless tonight.
And that is why I do the job I do. Because I have to do something. Because feeling helpless is simply not an option for me.
Today's Lesson: Don't accept that simply because someone is a child's parent she has the right to do with that child what she pleases. Look for signs of being overwhelmed in new (all!) parents. Do your damnedest to make sure your children and the children around you are only left in the care of competent, responsible, non-violent caretakers. Remember, children need a village. To raise them. To keep them safe. To love them. Our children - all of them - are the responsibility of all of us.