Cancer, pedophiles, drunk drivers....there are so many things to fear once you have a family.
Today our school district was struck with the news that two boys committed suicide over the weekend. One of Gavin's classmates mom works with me, and one of the families lives two doors down from them. Great kid, responsible, involved in track. How does this happen?
If we can't answer that question, how do we prevent it from happening?
I exchanged an email with Gavin's teacher, trying to get a pulse on what the students were told, and what the environment is at school today. ITBS (Iowa Tests of Basic Skills) was supposed to start today, but is now postponed. At the elementary school, the kids were simply told that two boys died, but of course, stories and rumors are already flying.
Tonight I will hold my 7 yr old close and try to explain to him that two people took their own lives. As hard as that task is, it's so much better to hear the truth from me than from whatever sensationalized story he hears on the playground or the bus. He will sit there and look at me innocently, not understanding the weight of what's at hand. Or he will be deeply troubled by it, internalizing what I am saying. I don't know.
I will try to tell him that it's ok to feel sad, but never to hurt yourself. That there are so many people that love him. That it's normal to feel down, and that he needs to find people to talk to if he feels this way. He will ask me why this happened, and I won't know how to answer.
We'll finish with a conversation about rumors and gossip, about the importance to respect the families of the boys, and not to feed into the talk going around school. He'll probably hop up and go on with his evening, maybe a little happy that his tests were delayed.
But he'll be so slightly changed. Less innocent. More aware that bad things happen. I'm more aware that bad things happen.
This is the hard part of parenting you never think about. The part where scary things happen to nice people. I find myself searching the news articles for signs that these were bad parents, or kids with a troubled past, a history of mental illness. Something, anything, that allows me to say "well, this can't happen to me".
If you are the praying type, please say some prayers for these families. Pray that our community finds the right words to speak to our children. And that we find ways to prevent these senseless tragedies from happening again. It's becoming all too common in schools across the country.