Friday morning was chaotic. I heard the news while I was driving to my children's holiday show at our local public school. I felt faint and then I turned angry very, very quickly. Why were the front doors at my children's school wide open? Why weren't administrators screening people that were walking in? I was told that everyone was there for the holiday show, and that it would be impossible to have everyone sign in. It just didn't sit well with me. But school is a safe place, isn't it? Some families moved to Connecticut for the school district, and more specifically, Sandy Hook Elementary. When we drop our children off at school, we expect them to be safe and to stay safe. Never in our wildest nightmares do we think that they can die huddled together in a bathroom by the hands of evil. That just doesn't happen. These are children.
I sat through the entire holiday show crying. These kids could have been those kids. My children could have been those children. It's all just so heartbreaking and unfair. But it has also been a call to action. There is something very broken in our society. There is no doubt in my mind that we need to focus on proper mental health screenings and more stringent gun control. Others don't seem to agree with me. Many Facebook "friends" are engaged in heated online discussions about the Second Amendment.
These children and teachers did not deserve to die. You see their faces and names and you want to scream. They all share the image of youth, innocence, big, happy smiles and full lives ahead of them. Everyone that I speak with is in a state of shock and disbelief. It's hard not to focus on the news of small bodies riddled with bullets. But what do we do now? Are my children going to be safe at school? The gates are unlocked and there are many ways to get in. What will prevent a crazy person from trying again? But then I waver. We certainly cannot live our lives in a state of fear and our children cannot feel this anxiety. Some parents argue for stricter security and armed guards. Others think that this may be going too far.
I'm told that our school has a safety committee. Unfortunately, I never really paid much attention to it until now. I want to implement change but I also want our world to not be so scary. People say that these kinds of things never happen, especially not in Sandy Hook. But now we know that they can. The question is: What do we do about it?
I will tell you the most tangible thing that you can do right now: hug a teacher. Teachers are the hardest working people I know and they get thanked the least. I know how difficult it is to watch three children in one room, let alone 25. As budgets continually get cut (especially in Los Angeles), teachers need to take money out of their small salaries to buy much needed supplies for their classrooms. Parents usually approach teachers when there is something wrong, but do you ever just stop and say "thanks"? I know that they are exhausted, drained, and deserve several days off. I wish that I can give them everything that they need. Where do they find the energy? The constant smiles?
The teachers that were killed on Friday in the horrific tragedy were all trying to shield their students. Both the principal and the school psychologist were trying to stop the shooter, and the young teachers all died hovering over their students. The image is seared in my brain forever.
We need to stop arguing for a moment and come together to agree on this one thing: teachers are angels. To all of the teachers in my children's lives, I thank you for your continued love and enthusiasm. I appreciate you. You make a difference. Please know that you are loved.