I didn't want to our girls to know about the mass shooting in Newtown, CT yesterday. Maybe something along the lines of "something bad happened really far away" if anything at all. Unfortunately, the girls' elementary school took it out of my hands.
The girls walked out of school excited about the weekend. I don't remember which girl said it first, but one of them whispered to me, "There was a shooting in a different school. There's a note in my backpack. Can we talk about it when we walk home?"
I told her we'd talk as much as she wanted.
When there's something difficult to discuss or potentially embarrassing to one of our girls or someone else, we always talk about it when we're alone. Sometimes one of them will ask if we can talk about something in the car. Sometimes they want to talk about it when we get home. Yesterday we talked about the it on the way home from school.
I heard words coming out of my mouth, but those were nearly out of body moments. They asked questions. I answered. I didn't provide more information than necessary, but I did answer all their questions. The girls had a lot of questions. I didn't have all the answers and I told them that when appropriate.
As soon as we got home Daddy called. Both girls wanted to talk to Daddy. They cried. I tried not to cry. We hugged a lot. They cried some more. I hugged them some more.
It's completely incomprehensible for adults to realize that one person was so sick that he walked into a school and killed 20 children. For two little girls who love school, it's terrifying. We don't have the words to make them feel better right now.
Neither girl wants to go back to school. The brunette twin doesn't want to go back ever. The blond twin doesn't want to go back next week. She wants to stay home until after Winter break. I don't want them to leave the house either, even as I recognize that this is a completely unhealthy long-term solution. Still, if they are in our house we can keep them safe.
At least that's what we tell ourselves. I realize we have to leave the house. We have to go out into the world. Monday we'll walk to school with Oreo, just like we do every school day. We'll pack lunches, make sure backpacks are ready and argue about whether or not to wear gloves. (Momma says yes. The girls always say, "It's not that cold.)
I only wish I felt good about that reality. I feel an overwhelming sadness and I'm far removed from the tragedy. Mostly, I wonder how it's ever going to be possible for the Sandy Hook Elementary School families to get out of bed each day. Believe me when I say that I recognize my fears are their realities. Nothing happening here is as bad as what is happening there.