The Kids Are Not OK

Maybe it’s because I can’t stomach seeing another school shooting on TV. Maybe it’s because I just finished To Kill A Mockingbird and I’m channeling my inner Atticus Finch. Maybe it’s because Paxton is starting high school in the fall. The exact reason is hard to know but I feel something needs to be said.

Eighteen school shootings in 6 weeks tells me the kids are not ok. Not even close. As I sat and watched the news coverage, big fat tears rolled down my cheeks. Then a sob escaped my throat. I didn’t mean for it to but it did. My eyes couldn’t look away from these kids walking out of their schools with their hands on their heads. Then the news aired recorded footage that some of the students took with their phones during the attack. Every gunshot knocked the wind right out of me. I was traumatized and I wasn’t even there. I hugged my kids like a crazy person when they got home from school because it's the only thing that felt right. No, the kids are not ok.

What does it take for a kid to get a loaded gun and go massacre a school? What is going on in the lives of these shooters that they think this is the best way to handle a situation? What is their home life like? Do they have friends? Have they always had violent tendencies? What was the straw that broke the camel’s back?

I wish I knew. I’m afraid if I did, though, it would be too much for me to take. It would be too heartbreaking. Too real. The brokenness would turn me into a puddle. And I don’t want to feel sorry for people that kill innocent people. I should be saving those feelings for the victims, right? They deserve all my feelings. And I do feel for them. It seems like such a senseless way to die. No one wants to picture the fear and terror in their innocent eyes before they died because it’s too gut wrenching. I’m sure the parents are crushed under the weight of it all. I can’t begin to imagine.

So here’s the deal.

I’m sure people want stricter gun laws and more thorough background checking and that’s fine to have an opinion, but I’m not going to get into the politics of it other than this: Let’s stop pretending government will fix this. Instead, let’s try to be grown ups that are safe for kids to come to with their problems. Let’s not just be good listeners; let’s ask better questions. Let’s speak truth and love to the kids in our lives. Let’s let them know that they matter and they have a purpose in this world. Let’s teach them they are not alone. Let’s make sure to not only show our kids we love them, but also show our kids’ friends we love them. And if you worry about the friends your kid hangs out with, maybe they need a grown up in their lives that let’s them know they matter too.  

We can’t always make things ok for our kids, but gosh, I believe we can be better grown ups. I’m far from a perfect parent and there are lots of things my kids probably don’t want to talk to me about and that’s ok. My hope is Kyle and I have surrounded them with enough grown ups in their lives that are safe and kind and loving to help them navigate situations they might not be ready to tell us yet. We've got to get over how it makes us feel to talk to our kids about hard things. We have to be brave enough to hear about their broken places rather than pretend everything's fine.

No, the kids are not ok.

We must do better for them and in order to do that we must be better ourselves.

Jesus come quickly.