For five years, I’ve walked through the same door to pick up my children from school – now a locked door that I, of course, inadvertently pull on DAILY only to be reminded to walk to the secure entrance. As I walk around the building, I think of Newtown and how the monsters always win.
Busy moms, who chose similarly safe and bucolic neighborhood schools, are faced with new pickup procedures, visitor badges, another decal for the car and parent meetings to discuss school security. Worse yet, our schools are evaluating expensive upgrades to the locking mechanisms and facilities while our cities consider putting police officers in the elementary schools. What about upgrading the lab, putting new computers in the classroom or books for the library? Dollars diverted from learning to security take a small piece of our child’s future also. School children recognize the change and know it has something to do with that sad day in Connecticut when Mom’s eyes were swollen red. We, the parents, are letting the Newtown tragedy take the most valuable parts of childhood –optimism, carefree days, trusting adults and believing that the Friday spelling test is the most important thing in the universe.
Despite it all, each time I pull on that newly locked door my stomach sinks because I know it really won’t thwart a mentally unstable teen with a machine gun. None of it will. The security measures merely provide our school officials with the necessary talking points (proving no fault on their part) and a false sense of security if the unthinkable and, let’s be honest, unstoppable occurred.
Instead, we can pledge ourselves to the following:
– Support school efforts that further your child’s future and their excitement for learning and exploring the world.
– Empower children to be part of the solution by discussing mental health, emotional intelligence and promoting anti-bullying measures (which start at home)
– Maintain basic security measures and not altering your life to stop the unstoppable
– Support parents of children with mental illness – be known as a community of parents where someone can voice their fears and seek help without stigma (From Huffington Post today… What Could Have Save My Brother from his Mental Illness)
– Let the experts evaluate gun regulations and support our elected officials to take appropriate steps. Make your opinion known by emailing, calling or writing your congressional or senate representative. Your voice will diminish the power of special interests and moms bring great value to the process.
– Live each day as you did that weekend after Newtown …. hugging, playing with and listening to your children with a renewed sense of what is truly precious.