Last night I was visiting with my granddaughter and helping her with homework. She had a reading assignment about Wilson Bentley. Who was he I asked, and quickly learned from my nine-year-old that he was the person who had a passion for snow and snowflakes, and was one of the first to who discover how to capture individual flake designs by using microscopic photography. Oh I thought, how interesting and especially because Bentley was a self-taught man with no formal education -- he was curious from the time he was very young about snow and had a passion for snowflake designs.
This exercise led my granddaughter to talking about her passion for collecting rocks and how her curiosity about them -- how they were made, why were there so many different types of rocks etc., could lead to a job for her when she grew up. Then she made a quick veer into an area that took me by surprise and caused me to pause and listen very carefully to what she was saying.
Mr. Bentley, she told me lived in Vermont and then she asked me if that was the same state where that "man" went into a school and shot all of those children! I told her no, that state was Connecticut. After catching my breath, I asked what else did she hear about the shooting. She went on to say, that she heard the "man's" mother taught him to use guns and that she taught at the school where the shooting took place. She went on to ask if teachers were allowed to bring guns to school? I asked why, and she told me one of the teachers in her school was "mean" and she didn't want her to shoot kids if she got mad.
We spent the next 20 minutes or more talking about guns and the rights the U.S. Constitution gives us to carry them. I told her that most people use guns safely but that yes, there are people (criminals, mentally disturbed people, etc.) who are not careful using guns. Her fears that so many people had them and how could she stop someone from shooting her or her classmates was disturbing to me. I don't believe any nine-year-old should be afraid to go to school. As a grandparent and parent we should be able to tell young people that they are safe in schools and in their own homes.
I'm not on any political side of this issue but I am on the side of common sense. It is our responsibility as adults to protect our children. It is also our job to ensure that we don't fall into the habit of drawing hard lines on issues that relate to safety. If we are being honest, guns are weapons and designed to kill "something," and it's up to us to make sure that what they kill, to the best of our abilities, is not our children. I don't want my nine-year-old looking over her shoulder each time she goes to school wondering if a "angry" person or teacher will have a gun and shoot her. I want reasonable people to make reasonable decisions about how weapons are purchased, distributed and monitored. We are the adults and maybe we need to start acting like them.
Holding my granddaughter tightly