National School Walkout

Are you unsure of whether to have your kids participate in the #NationalSchoolWalkout today?

Do you send them to school everyday? If you do, they regularly have active shooter drills as it is. If you think they don’t know what they’re doing because you asked them once and they didn’t seem to know, ask them again. Kids know all the things if you really ask, listen, and let their answer go on.

We haven’t talked a whole bunch about all of it - the school shootings, the walkout, the lockdown drills, etc. - but the first thing my son showed me when we went into his classroom for Open House was where they hide for lockdown drills and how his classroom was better than his sister’s because it has a little quadrant that’s protected from sight from the doorway. He’s never ever mentioned that before and I thought he didn’t really know what was up honestly. He felt bad for his sister (who also knew enough to feel bad for herself), but also like he beat her because everything’s a competition for them and he won the classroom that he believes he’d be least likely to die in. They know.

I’ve heard parents explain their concern about the walkout today: Does their kid really get it? Should they push their views on their kid? Shouldn’t we just be kinder to each other and then shootings wouldn’t happen?

Well, kids don’t get lots of things, like why it’s gross to pick their noses, but that doesn’t mean I don’t tell them to stop picking their noses. I push my views on my kids because I pushed them out of my vagina myself, which makes me the deciding vote for lots of things for them.

Our children are being raised in our Irish (and a tiny bit German) Catholic family, which means all sorts of things like we make our First Communions (even though we don’t agree with everything the Church thinks) and we go to wakes and funerals (even if we didn’t really know the person who died) for the people we love who are still living and grieving. They get an opinion, they get a vote and a voice, and sometimes my vote and voice overrides theirs. Honestly, I don’t have to pull the override card often, though, because most times I explain it and they get it. And sometimes, when the universe has my back, they explain it to each other and I sit back and think, “Carry on raising yourselves. You’re good.”

As for whether our kids should be kinder towards one another, of course they should. Always. But kindness is no match for terrible gun violence prevention legislation.

You think other countries don’t have kids who feel bullied and ostracized? They do. You think other countries don’t have kids who play violent video games? They do, too. You think other countries don’t have people with mental illness? They do.

We have the same kinds of people in the same situations across First World countries, but only we in America have gun deaths at the level we do. Why? Because guns and because of our easy access to them thanks to the NRA that continually fights the most common sense, non-partisan gun legislation.

Why do they fight that? Because money.

I’ll stop now, but not before I say: If you haven’t educated yourself on the statistics, you don’t get to say what you think the problem is. Facts exist that point to the problem being our access to guns in America. Your opinion is not more important than the facts.

As for the kids, they’re always all right if we are. If we want to scare them or put our anxieties and concerns on them, we can do it without even saying it. Have you ever been in a bad mood, but not mentioned a thing and you’re still going through the motions at your house? Watch how your kids react. It’s a total shitshow. Without saying a word, you can create a whole atmosphere: Mothering (and Fathering) is the most powerful, I do believe.

Let’s give our kids a chance. Let’s let them learn. Let’s teach them, and let them teach us. Let’s give them some credit, for goodness’ sakes. We can’t expect them to become the kind, thoughtful, articulate people we want for them to be - who stand up to bullies - unless we give them opportunities all throughout their childhoods to practice that. They learn the same way we do: by doing. Nothing happens in an instant; we develop. They develop, too.

We get what we put into the world. Give it the best you’ve got.

See you on the pavement. And teachers, thanks for always standing up for our kids and for speaking truth to power. We honor your commitment to our kids everyday, today included.

EssaysAnne FlavinComment