"Again? It happened AGAIN?" my child asked in a voice that was both horrified and confused.
The television was on and the nightly news had just started. My daughter was reacting to the news that, for the second time this week, a student had killed a teacher at school.
Earlier this week, a 12-year-old middle school student in Nevada killed Mike Landsberry, a math teacher and former marine. Last evening, the news anchor was saying that Colleen Ritzer, a 24-year-old math teacher, was killed by a 14-year-old student in Danvers, MA.
My 11-year-old daughter turned to me.
I searched for words, and found none. Words are elusive when you have to explain something that you yourself do not comprehend.
"It has to stop."
Yes. Yes, yes, yes.
This recent round of school violence has made an impact on my child, who is not much younger than the two individuals accused of murdering their teachers. She cannot begin to understand what was behind such a heinous act. She's certainly not alone.
Tweens are at a tricky developmental stage. They are old enough to comprehend the tragic acts, but they still look to their parents to make sense of it, to explain why bad things happen.
Distraction and snuggles are just not effective any longer. I miss the days when those worked. Frankly, they used to make us both feel better.
Talking with a child about kids her age committing school shootings made me desperately miss the time I used to spend rocking my little girl in our rocking chair. There was a time when we both fit in it comfortably. I loved rocking my baby when she was a baby, and when she was a toddler, and even when she was a preschooler.
After a difficult day, rocking chair time would sooth us both.
When the world seemed hard, or my child had just sucked every ounce of energy from me that I could stand no longer, the rocking chair was a place of refuge. I don't know if I liked it so much because it was a chance to be still (well, more still than running around) or if it just felt like I was in a cocoon and could shut out the world and its problems. Maybe I just liked the rhythmic rocking motion. Whatever it was, I loved rocking chair time. It was something you could make sense of, when little else around you made sense.
As is often the case with the passage of time, those rocking chair days feel like they were ages ago, and yet, just yesterday.
Today, though, there is no rocking and instead I'm trying to explain senseless acts of violence.
I really miss those rocking chair days.
Although she’d like to be taller and have more time to dive into good books, Shannan is awfully happy with her life in the western suburbs, where she moved after a decade of living on the north side of the city. She blogs about parenting a tween at Tween Us on ChicagoNow and at Families in the Loop.
See more of Shannan 's stories here.