The Morning After Another School Tragedy

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The morning after…

After another terrible news reality hits another school, a different town, a different state altogether . . . I can’t hide behind a feeling that it won’t happen to us. It’s not unimaginable.

I can very much imagine it — vividly.

And I feel it . . . even though it hasn’t happened to my own little family. I still feel it. 

Not only the empathy for others hurting, but I feel the possibility of it hitting us. And it wrecks me. I try to keep that wrecking hidden from my kids.

Last night I decided my eight-year-old needed to be clued in to a very terrible news event for the first time in his life. I can no longer shelter him, as he’s old enough that he may hear the news from his peers at school this time.

I told him in simple words about what happened at another school in our country. And I assured him that he’s safe. He’s safe at his school. And he feels safe. I agreed and let him believe what he says about his school having “maximum security.”

Rationally, I trust the security measures my son’s school has already been taking. But irrationally, I still hold fear in my own heart, quietly raging. But, is it even irrational to do so at this point?

Later in the night, I cried myself to sleep — needing to release my tears of stinging fear as my kids slept curled up in their beds . . . my mind dreading the next morning’s school drop-offs.

the morning after school tragedyThis morning after tragedy . . . I dropped my son off at his school — reminding myself to breathe calmly in the car. I put on my brave face and tried to appear as if it’s just another school day for my son. Just another safe school day. We’re safe. He’s safe.

I need him to feel a sense of safety in this ever cruel world. But it feels like I have to trick myself into feeling it for him.

A half-hour later, I’m in my room gathering my clothes for the day. I hear police sirens.

My breath catches. I hear my own heart beating. My world halts.

I listen for more sirens. My mind panics and wrestles with itself to calm.

The sirens stop. I breathe. Remember to breathe. He’s safe. We’re safe. But how long will this go on? It feels so unfair that we’re raising our kids in these days.

I don’t have any new, profound wisdom to share. There’s no way to put a bow on situations like this. But I will share a couple of resources from a therapist and child development experts on how to talk to our kids about scary news. I hope these help, and I hope you know you’re not alone in this secondary trauma we’re feeling.

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Amanda is an upstate New York girl who married a Tennessee guy in 2011 and moved to Charleston the next day. They have adopted two toddler boys from South Korea in 2017 and 2019. She loves to share her heart ponderings and humor lent by beginning motherhood with her toddler who spoke another language. She has a social work degree and background in non-profit work, but currently stays home with her boys. She enjoys her awkward floppy hound, assertive cuddly cat, but can't keep plants alive. In her "spare time," she loves to create, serve as drummer at her church, dance around the house, or provide harmonies/percussion for her sister's music.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I feel like I could have written this. Yesterday at school pickup a police officer pulled into the school as I was getting in the pickup line. I felt my heart drop as soon as it pulled up to the school. Thankfully there was nothing wrong, but for those first few minutes it felt like my heart stopped as I tried not to panick about what could be wrong.

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