Friday, July 20, 2012

Pondering a Tragedy

Tonight on the way home from a lacrosse game, one of my favorite songs came on the radio.  It's a song by a Christian singer, Plumb, called "In My Arms".  The song is about wanting to keep her kids safe from the sad, hard parts of the world.  She sings about how childhood is full of fairy tales, and how it breaks her heart that someday her kids will know the truth.  She just wants them to be safe in her arms.  When I mentioned how much I liked the song, Jacob asked what it was about.  I tried to explain it in simple terms, just saying that it's about a mommy who wants to keep her kids safe from the yuckiness in the world.  He prodded me for more specifics so I tried to give some examples--we pretty much settled on bad strangers--but I was at a loss for words because I didn't really want to lay out for him what all the bad stuff in the world was.

It was a timely discussion, of course, because of what happened in Aurora, CO, overnight.  It's such a sad, horrible story...beyond comprehension, in fact.  To think a bunch of people went to a late night movie and 12 of them ended up dead (and dozens more injured)...unthinkable.  I still don't know why these crazy people can't just take themselves out and be done with it.  Or geez, get help.  I can't imagine what this guy's story is, but it's not really about him.  It's about the victims.  One was a kid from Rochester.  Craig was just doing some digging and it turns out the first identified victim, the girl who was an aspiring sportscaster, had some ties here, too, through her boyfriend. 

I read a blog post this morning about a mom who was debating explaining to her five-year-old son what had happened.  On one hand, she hates the thought of sharing such evil with him, but on the other hand she doesn't want to downplay tragedy and make him immune to it.  I agree, it's a tough call.  We struggle with this every year when September 11th events come around.  We're compelled to watch the documentaries and memorials, but don't want to dig into the details with Jacob around.  It's a delicate balance.

I read another blog tonight discussing the fact that there were kids in that theater.  His big question was,"Why were they there?"  It was a midnight showing of a violent movie.  There was no reason for a six year old or three month old to be there.  He was attacked in the comments by people saying it wasn't the time to discuss it and that he shouldn't judge other parents' choices.  I get that the timing may not have been great, but to be fair, he's a parenting blogger and it was a valid parenting question--would you do it and why?  I agree with him--when you're a parent, you make sacrifices.  Wait a few days, go to a matinee...let your kids sleep in peace at home.  Maybe they had a valid reason, but I just think it's one of those parenting decisions that leaves you up for judgment, like taking your kid out in winter without socks or feeding an infant pure junk food.  They're not the most instinctively good decisions based on prevailing wisdom, so don't be surprised or appalled if someone inquires.  Not that we need to immediately be critical, but some parenting decisions just beg to have questions asked...and answered. 

Kids didn't get shot because their parents brought them there--it could have happened anywhere.  They got shot because one lunatic lost control.  It's quite the price to pay for an outing where the parents thought the only fallout would be cranky, overtired kids possibly having nightmares from on-screen violence.  I personally don't think it was a good decision to bring their kids there in the first place.  It just looks extra bad now that some guy broke in and shot up the theater.  But they never could have imagined what might happen so you can't blame them for that part.  But I also can't blame the blogger for asking the question--even if there might have been a better time to ask it.

It kills me that Jacob will grow up in a world where this stuff is all too common.  When Columbine happened, I was a junior in college and that was such an unfathomable event.  Since then there have been seemingly dozens of similar occurrences, both in the US and elsewhere, at any number of different locations--a military base, a camp, colleges, daycares, and now a movie theater.  I hate that he'll grow up in a world where that's the norm, where September 11th will always be a reality, and where war isn't just something to learn about in history class.  Add in the prevalence of sex, drugs, alcohol, and violence in our society, reaching kids that are far too young to process their impact, and I just wonder how any kid makes it through okay.  Lots of prayer and strong guidance, I suppose. 

Bad judgments aside, the whole thing is a terrible tragedy.  My thoughts and prayers are with the victims, and my arms will be around my little boy.  And once the news story vanishes from our screens, I'll still be thinking about the bad in the world and wondering how to help Jacob navigate through it all unscathed.  I, too, want to keep my child safe in my arms, but it's hard for him to grow if I squeeze too tight.  God help us all....

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