I chose to not tell my children about the Las Vegas Massacre. It started like any other Monday, actually I had a hard time getting out of bed that yesterday morning because my four year old had me up a few times during the night and I tossed and turned for an hour before finally falling into a deep sleep only to be woken by the pitter patter of little feet probably twenty minutes later. I had no clue that peoples lives were forever changed. I dragged myself out of bed remembering it was picture day at my daughters school and I silently thanked god that we chose her outfit the night before to avoid a fight in the morning. I splashed water on my face and threw my usual morning attire on, yoga pants and a t-shirt. I rolled my eyes when I found my son at the counter gladly and happily making his older sister a cheese sandwich for lunch as she lay on the couch watching cartoons. “Buddy, what are you doing?” “I wanted to help you Momma.” I smiled and kissed the top of his head and said “Thanks bud, I’ll take it from here.” I still had no clue that so many people were living a nightmare as I got my children ready for school.
I announced that Momma was taking the oldest to school that day because we were NOT going to make the bus today. I ran upstairs to my mothers apartment above our garage, the kids like saying good-bye to her before heading off to school. I quickly glanced at the news she had on, and she said, “Did you hear about the shooting in Las Vegas?” I turned and read the top of the screen. I noticed my almost seven year old was starting to watch. I quickly ushered her from her apartment and down the stairs to head to school.
I got caught up in the daily routine as I drove to my daughters school. I played music for distraction but the thoughts kept coming. Another shooting. How many shootings has happened in the past seven years since I’ve had children? I don’t even know the answer to that. I still didn’t know details. I dropped my oldest off, kissed the top of her head and said “Don’t forget to SMILE big today to show that beautiful smile in your pictures!” I drove to my sons preschool as I listened to him sing his favorite song. Yes it happens to be a country song. I still hadn’t heard the details of the shooting and what this would mean for our world.
I walked him inside, helped him hang up his coat, ushered him to wash his hands. I watched with pride as he ran over to the new “table” that was in the classroom. His teacher informed me that the Dr. table was put away and the firefighter table took it’s place. I laughed and told the teacher how excited he was about the new table and the firefighters that were going to be visiting their school today, we heard about it all weekend long. I gave him a hug and told him to have a good day with his friends, he ran to me like he always does and said “One more hug Momma!” I didn’t know the numbers were slowly creeping up as to how many lives were lost and how many people were injured.
I walked outside and let the sunshine hit my face, another beautiful fall day was in store for us in New England. I turned on the usual country channel I listen to in my car, I admit that I don’t watch the news often. Maybe to grab a weather report before a party we are planning, but other than that I gave up watching the news over 10 years ago when someone I loved went overseas and even more so since all of the shootings, hurricanes and disastrous world changing events that have occurred. I remember being sick to my stomach for week when the Sandy Hook shooting occurred because it involved children. Innocent children. As I drove the ten minute ride home every channel I selected was reporting on what happened in Las Vegas. The tears stung at my eyes as I listened with every detail the radio hosts were reporting. I could hardly believe what I was hearing. A night of fun with family and friends suddenly turned deadly. They were actually calling it a massacre. The tears hit my yoga pants as I drove home in a fog.
I wiped the tears and went about my day, it’s what all of must do right? I sat down at my laptop about an hour later to get some writing done and turned the news on, I felt drawn to the television to get more details. The death count and injured count was still creeping up. They were actually calling it “America’s deadliest shooting in all time history.” I could barley breathe. I was instantly glued to the television like I was the on 911. I watched the same video’s over and over again, I heard the gun shots and the panic in the voices of the attendees. I heard a woman interviewed saying that men were lifting woman over a stone wall to get them to safety. My girlfriend texted me saying she heard a story of how this guys buddy was shot numerous times in the chest and said he wasn’t even worried about his own safety he just wanted to stay with his buddy to help him, he didn’t want his friend to be alone when he died. I felt this ache in my heart all day long. I couldn’t really get much done besides go through the regular motions of the day. Get the kids from school, feed them, smile for them. How was I going to smile for them when the world was going through such a traumatic event?
Then the question came into my head. Should I be talking to my almost seven year old about this or should I be shielding her from it? For the first time in my life I was scared at the the thought of raising littles in a world like today. I had just explained death to both of my children for the first time last week when a local teacher unexpectedly passed away and the principle advised us to talk to our children about it. I attended my best friends mother-in-laws wake that week and just two days ago I found out an old friend lost the mother of his child at 35 to cancer. I know it’s our job to teach our children to be sympathetic and kind but how can we when these devastations keep happening? I can’t shield them forever, bad things happen to good people every day. My kids already know that I lost my father. My oldest has already done the math, “How old was Grampy when he died momma? How old are you?” If I sat down and told my daughter about the tragic event that happened yesterday what kind of thoughts would haunt her at night when she closed her sweet innocent eyes? When we sat and down and told her about the teacher that had passed that week she had questions. Reasonable questions. I told her it was okay to be sad, and if she wasn’t feeling sad maybe someone else was so I advised her to talk to her friends or give her teacher an extra hug today, maybe she was feeling the loss. I wanted to speak to my husband about it, should we tell her about this? Would she really understand it? My daughter is extremely sensitive and has a problem with expressing her feelings. I can’t even come to terms with why a man would open fire on strangers how was I going to explain it to a seven year old?
The questions haunted me all day long, do I let her hear it from us so my husband and I can explain it in the way we choose? Do I let her hear it from older kids on the bus? She plays with toy guns, all of these questions just raced through my head and I was due to pick up my youngest after lunch. At least the innocence could be saved for him. He begged to play on the playground before we went home like he always does, but I took a pleading boy home so I could have lunch. I continued on with a lump in my throat, I had to do something fun with him. So we decided to pull out our fall decorations to spruce up the place. I felt like I needed to just spend some time with him, to let him be four and just enjoy him. Lets just say he wasn’t happy with the amount of decorations I thought I had acquired over the years and he wanted more. I wanted some pumpkins and pretty mums for our front steps so I said “Let’s go bud! We are going to buy pumpkins and mums!” I finally smiled as he reached for my hand as we walked towards the local greenhouse. May he always reach for my hand I thought as I squeezed his little hand. He eagerly went on and on about how the santa held dishes of candy I was proud that my four year old remembered coming to pick out our Christmas tree the year before and how he got a candy cane from the big giant display santa that greeted us inside. I fought away the tears knowing how many people would not be celebrating the holidays this year as I browsed through all the homemade gifts and locally made jellies. I enjoyed my son as he helped place pots of flowers and a few pumpkins in our cart. He eagerly pushed it around not wanting any of my help what so ever. His innocence just overflowed.
I picked up my daughter from the bus stop, I asked her about her day, she was very excited to tell me about the new boy that started school today in her classroom. She sat and ate her snack while I put dinner in the crock pot and listened to her, the innocence continued to haunted me. My heart was leading me in the direction that I knew it was supposed to go. My husband came home and it was Daddy, Daddy, Daddy (yeah I don’t get Momma, Momma, Momma very often!) I turned the news on, I wanted answers and I wasn’t even involved! My husband got the kids involved with painting, we are painting our kitchen and hallway. He said “You may want to turn that off.” However, the kids never once turned to the TV screen. They just wanted to help Daddy paint! I knew my answer was to keep the innocence.
We went about our evening, they requested cartoons while having dinner and since my husband and I were going to eat later, I said SURE! Why not?!! The rules were out the window yesterday. No rules. Just smiles, laughs and innocence. Bed time came and since my kids could talk we talk about our days in bed with them after we read stories. My youngest tends to go through every detail of his day, as a stall tactic of course but tonight I didn’t care. I listened. I listened to every single word he still mispronounces and when it came time to talk about my day, I gave him the details he needed to hear. My daughter, well she’s older and three questions we often ask her at night time is. What was the worst part of your day? What was the best part of your day? Do you have any questions about today? The answers are sweet and innocent and it’s helping us communicate and it allows her to continue talking to us. I decided not to tell my children about today. I have a few more years before she has to know these kinds of tragic events exist in her perfect little world. She can stay in that bubble longer. I pray it’s for a lot longer.
We teach our children to be honest and kind but I had to lie to my daughter yesterday. When she asked me what the worst part of my day was my eyes filled up with tears. I answered, “I didn’t have a worst part of my day today baby.” I kissed her on the head and I let her best part of the day, “coming home to momma off the school bus!” be the sweet innocence that I needed to hear that night.