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Melissa Sher Headshot

On Friday Morning

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This morning, I watched my 5-year-old perform holiday songs with his classmates in his school auditorium. They sang. They laughed. They danced. They waved to their parents in the audience. And we waved back. They were so innocent. And so were we.

After my son's performance, I ducked out into the hallway with my toddler. He was thirsty. I found a cup and headed to the water fountain. He wanted to fill it, so I let him try. He held the cup at just the wrong angle -- not a single drop made it in. I tried to show him what he was doing wrong, but he wouldn't listen. He pushed the button on the fountain over and over again. The water continued to flow. And the cup -- again -- failed to contain it.

As I was about to wrestle my toddler away from the water, my phone buzzed. I glanced at it. And that's when I first learned about what happened in Connecticut.

I can hardly bring myself to write what happened. The tragedy for that town, and those families, and those children is too great. I don't believe that any of us will ever forget the moment we learned about what took place at Sandy Hook Elementary.

After I read the news, I tried to compose myself and took my toddler's hand. We walked back into my 5-year-old son's school auditorium. I was overwhelmed -- lucky to be with my beautiful children in our school, safe.

Those children. Those teachers. Those parents.

I later read that when some of the children escaped, the rescuers told them to hold hands and shut their eyes so they wouldn't have to witness the terror around them. "Close your eyes," they were instructed.

We need to open ours.

I live in Portland. There was a shooting at our local mall earlier this week, and people are dead and wounded. A few months ago, my sister called me to tell me that the father of one of her childhood best friends had been gunned down in his Minneapolis business. A few years before that, it was a similar phone call from her: the father and stepmother of yet another dear, dear friend were killed. And, on my first day of college, only hours after he left us, the father of my roommate -- who would become one of my closest friends -- was murdered.

My son's class performance this morning -- before I read the news -- feels like it happened weeks ago. What happened in Sandy Hook Elementary is unspeakable; and yet, if we don't speak up, we are closing our eyes to the problem.

I feel like we are acting a bit like my toddler. He missed catching any of the drinking fountain water because he was stubborn and wouldn't let me show him that he was doing it wrong.
We're doing it wrong. And, for the sake of our children -- please someone -- help us do it better.

This was originally posted on the blog, Mammalingo, Friday, December 14th.