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Parenting today is so much more complicated than when I was a kid. At least it seems so. Shielding Olivia, Benjamin and Rebecca from the violence, mayhem and toxic hatred being spewed in this world is so much more complicated now that they can read on their own, hear things like super ninjas and ask hundreds of questions. Trying to parent three amazing kids who are so curious and smart is hard, but the conversations are enlightening and sobering.
Harlan and I have been forced, like many families, to have repeated discussions about violence, guns and people who hurt others for no apparent reason. How do we explain that guns can be bought at Walmart down the aisle from the toys and garden department? How can I explain to my kids that people can buy guns to hurt people, sometimes children? How many times do I have to say that there are bad people in this world? How many more times do we need to tell Benjamin, Rebecca and Olivia that, as their parents, we will do everything we can to keep them safe?
I have joked so many times that if I had to homeschool my kids, I would lose my mind. I have joked that if I had to spend every minute of every day with all three kids, I would probably be a wonderful candidate for valium. Those jokes are not so funny anymore. Now I wonder if I could keep them any safer if they never left my sight. I wonder if we keep Rebecca, Olivia and Benjamin with us all the time will they be less likely to be hurt by someone else. The anxiety and horrible acidic fear that rises in my throat every time I see an ambulance go in the direction of the school could stop if I just home schooled them. Or would that level of fear just get postponed until high school? College? Marriage?
I understand the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, but in my home there are no guns. My children do not have toy guns. We don’t allow games that simulate shooting. We don’t let the kids play games that involve hunting the police or running from them. Teaching awareness at this age can hopefully start turning the tide of disrespect toward the police and by the police. It goes both ways. I keep praying that someday the news will come on and the announcer will say that there was no violence anywhere in the country. No one was killed. No one walked into a school or onto a playground and opened fire with a semi-automatic weapon. Is that too much to ask?
How do we as a society keep saying what is happening is wrong, maintain the status quo, and then tell the family of the next shooting victims that “our thoughts and prayers are with you?” Olivia, Benjamin and Rebecca are practicing lockdown drills at school. At first they were scary, but then there was another school shooting. And another. And another. And another. And the Steuers sat around the dinner table and talked about the necessity of lockdown drills and following directions. Unfortunately, we had to introduce a little reality.
In 1999, Columbine became synonymous with every parent’s worst nightmare. I watched as the students got out of the school, some with legs hanging in the air out the window. Parents were sobbing as they searched for their precious children. In 2006, the Amish girls were killed. In 2012, Sandy Hook joined the list of school shootings. Now in 2018, Parkland has been added. The list has to end there. No more shootings. No more children with guns. No more adults with guns who don’t need to have one.
I am a mother. The fear and anxiety I feel every single school day when my children open the door and take that first step out the door is overwhelming. I’m not the only mom who feels this way. I’m not the only mom who has a prayer going in the back of her mind all day until the kids cross that doorway after school. Being a mother is not the same as it was in 1984. Violence existed, of course, but I wasn’t the mom then.
Jennifer Steuer is an Albany mom whose busy household includes her husband, Harlan, and 10-year-old triplets Olivia, Benjamin and Rebecca. Follow her on Instagram: jennifersteuer.
Jul 27, 2016 Comments Off on Triple Threat: The best month of the year