"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
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
"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
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
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
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,
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.
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