I sent my kids off to school today with a bit of fear. The same small reluctance that plagues every parent after a school shooting in the U.S. I got them dressed and packed their lunches. I looked both of them in the eyes and told them I loved them. I gave them hugs and shooed them off like it was any other day.
They love school. They love their teachers. It’s the end of the year when water days happen, and field trips and parties and other fun activities.
I looked for the extra police presence that’s usually there after a shooting. There they were on every corner, an officer eying the drop off procedures.
I know my kids are more likely to die in a car crash than a school shooting. I know there are a million other tragic ways for a child to die that are statistically more relevant.
But school is supposed to be a safe place, like churches, synagogues and mosques. Like Disney World, playgrounds and libraries.
Some places are supposed to be sacred.
I sent them to school today, even though every fiber of me screamed against it, even though I seriously considered making today a throw away day.
I thought about their teachers who are expected to be the heroes if a shooting happens. I thought about them guarding my children with their bodies as if they were their own.
I thought of how they would be considered cowards if they weren’t to act as human shields. I thought of how they signed up to be teachers, not bodyguards, not military, not police.
I thought of how ridiculous it is that we underpay teachers so embarrassingly, and have tacked on “protector of children” as yet another job requirement in the last 20 years.
I thought of how I live two blocks away from my kids’ school. I thought of how I would hear the ring of gun shots, just as I hear the school bell every day.
I thought of how I would run down the road. I thought of how the tears would roll down my face as I raced towards uncertainty. I thought of how I would jump over that chain linked fence that wasn’t there when I went to that school and move hell and heaven to get to wherever my kids were, or die trying.
But I sent my kids to school today. They say we don’t negotiate with terrorists, they say we don’t live our lives in fear.
Or they win.
I just never thought our kids would be the ones we lay upon the altar of our societal failures.
I’m learning that our kids are always the ones who pay the steepest price for our sins, while we argue over whose sins they really are; who’s to truly blame.
We have failed them. We have failed them so greatly and so magnificently that future generations will look upon us with disdain and disgust.
We scoff at the children who yell out, “Help us! Do something!”
We scream back, “We’re open to suggestions, or stop complaining!”
But they are kids! They do not have the responsibility of solving the world’s problems.
That’s our job. That’s OUR responsibility.
And we continuously come up with nothing.
“The greatest nation in the world,” my kids will be taught in school today. They will say the pledge of allegiance and learn their letters and be told they can be anything, even president, in the United States of America.
Except, apparently, safe.