Monday, December 17, 2012

What They Said

I heard the initial news reports as I was Christmas shopping. My first response was to cry.

I didn't read much about it over the weekend because we faced the usual hurly-burly of activities that fall right before Christmas -- a Scout service project, a wedding of two sweet friends, homework and laundry, packing gift bags for the needy at church.

When I had time to click on a headline or two, I wished I hadn't.

Charlotte, Rachel, Dylan, Dawn, Catherine, James, Grace, Noah . . . I can't read any more about the children who died. I can't read any more about the principal who died (and left behind a husband and five daughters).

My Facebook friends said it better than I could.

My friend Nelson who, like me, is a parent of four young children best captured my first thought:

My heart is broken right now. I just want to go home and hold my kids . . .

And after you've hugged your kids, find a teacher to hug. My friend Lauren, a veteran of 25 years in the classroom and a woman who once faced a loaded weapon in the classroom, posted this:
As a teacher reflecting on the horror of the past several days, I really have no words . . . Many in my profession have been placed under tremendous pressures in recent years and our "effectiveness" as educators measured by test scores alone, all while the culture around us collapses at an alarming rate. To remark that this tragedy is a reflection of our society is a frightening thought, but one that bears reflection.

In the end, teachers at Sandy Hook did what all good teachers do -- they protected the children under their charge, in some cases with their own lives.

In my 25+ years of teaching, I have seen my teaching colleagues do many heroic deeds -- feed and clothe students from their own pockets, work long hours without compensation, and volunteer at countless school-based events, all to enrich the lives of the children in their charge. 
We are far from perfect -- like you we have our faults. But most of us still believe that we can change the world, one child at a time . . .

Isn't it time to recognize the teaching profession for its noble service to society and to our Children? Scores do matter, but in the end, it is the hope we bring to your child, the life lessons we teach, and the values we emote that remain long after the scores have faded away.
I am proud of what I "do" in the classroom in terms of content, but your child is why I teach.

Hug a teacher you know in the days to come, and remember to say Thank You for the many sacrifices they have made for YOUR child along the way.
May God have mercy on the Souls of the fallen at Sandy Hook and all the schools around our nation who have experienced similar tragedies . . .

And in the midst of this dark, dark deed, there were other heroes as well. My friend Carleene posted this:

We saw darkness yesterday. Yet this week we read, "Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not overcome it."

A seventeen year old who lives nearby hears shots and rushes to the school to see if his sister is okay. Love shines in the darkness.

A custodian runs through the school to warn kids and teachers to take action to protect themselves, and in the process putting himself at risk . . . Self-sacrifice shines in the darkness.

Teachers lock their doors and have their kids gather in corners and hide in closets and stand vigil themselves in case a shooter arrives at their classroom. Courage shines in the darkness.

Law enforcement officers escort kids to safety telling them to close their eyes so that they do not see what eyes should never have to see. Compassion shines in the darkness.

And many parents hugged their children a little harder yesterday. The hearts of parents turn toward their children. Love shines in the darkness.

Oh, Lord, our hearts are broken. We need the Light! Let Your light shine into this darkness.

While no one understands what was going through Adam Lanza's mind, this piece sheds a sliver of light into the lives of the mentally ill and those who try to love them.

Wrenching, just wrenching.

No more reading for me. Today, I am going to hug my kids a little harder and pray a lot more.


Kris said...

Kelly -- I usurped that part that your friend Carlene posted and stuck it on my FB page. So perfect.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I read the piece you linked to about mental illness, and just shook our heads in recognition. Very luckily our adopted son, who was traumatised by the abuse he suffered in his birth family, has received help and is doing pretty well now. But for 7 years Michael never travelled for work so I was never left alone with him. I feel so very sorry for all the parents trying to cope with what even the most loving family can't possibly really cope with, much less heal.

I will go out on a limb here and say that I think a lot more specialised, therapeutic residential care would be a great help. The social workers spent years telling us that our son would be better off "in a family setting", but he didn't want to be part of a family, and his years in a therapeutic environment were some of the best of his life (so far) and did him a huge amount of good.

I also remember the social workers remarking that the residential school cost more per year than prison (per prisoner, per year). There is a huge cost. But isn't the cost of not treating such disturbed children so vastly much greater?

Kelly said...

Christine - A priest friend used to say, "It's easier to raise children than fix adults." I am so glad you found a place for your son to bring him stability and healing. I am sure that required a certain amount of letting go of what you pictured family life looking like. I have a number of friends who have adopted abused children. This calls for the most selfless kind of love.

Kris - Usurp away!

Happy holidays, friends! I'm probably signing off for a while.