When I got home on Friday, and folded my boys into my arms, my youngest wrapped his fingers around one of mine — like an infant would. It felt so unbearably familiar and dear. I have loved them both fiercely since that was the only way they could hold on. It’s instinctive. It’s rooted in our deepest connection. It’s all I know.
I don’t think it was just me. In the restaurant that night, I think every parent clung to their child while waiting for a table. My kids got chocolate milk and coins for those damn machines and anything they wanted on the menu. And then, after dinner, we walked around the Christmas trees and laughed and loved and actually sang Christmas carols and held hands. So did everyone else. I don’t think it was just me.
It’s like they just knew. They both bounded into our bed early on Saturday morning and trailed us to the kitchen. They demanded snuggles. They sat by us. They wanted to play cards and games and wrap presents and do whatever we were doing. At one point, I had both children (6 and 9!) on my lap while I did work. They hugged so hard I had to tell them to stop because it hurt. We kept the news off this entire weekend but it’s like they knew.
The school superintendent called this afternoon. He said the schools were safe. He said there are resources for discussing it with our children. He said we needed to go back to our routines tomorrow. He said guidance counselors would be available all week. He said the school staff will take care of our children. I hung up the phone and watched my boys chase and tackle each other in our backyard on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.
I let my oldest watch President Obama make his speech in Newtown tonight. Our president explained how our children are our nation’s dearest treasure. I want my son to know his safety IS valued by our president, by our entire country. He watched and wrapped his arms around me. I think he was trying to comfort me.
I lost nobody on Friday. My children are perfectly here, breathing and complaining and laughing and wonderful. But this stopped me in a way only very few tragedies have. However I can from afar, I am grieving deeply with each of those parents. DEEPLY. This tragedy has rocked me, and just about everyone I know, to the core.
I have nothing to offer here, no lesson learned, or respectful understanding about the laws of nature right now. Nope.
I just know that tomorrow, I will tell my kids it’s just another school day. And I will pack them into the car. And make sure science projects are ready and reindeer ears are in place for holiday activities. And drive onto the school grounds. And get in line with the other cars. And then, I will let them step out of the car and away from me. As they do every single day.
We are doing our very best. I know that. All of us. Parents, educators, first responders.
We are blessed by amazing faculty who don’t know me but would do anything to protect my babies from “the bad guys”. I know that and I find real comfort in that.
What a luxury. All I have to do is let my kids out of the car tomorrow. That’s ALL I have to do. While elsewhere, in Connecticut, dozens of parents will bury their children. So, without question, my kids will get out of the car for every single morning theirs cannot. This is their gift. This is their right. This is their life and routine. Not mine.