Monday, October 02, 2006

I Have Daughters

I was IMing with Kizz this afternoon, chatting about how well my first day of teaching went, when she asked me to turn on my television and find CNN. She wanted an update on a story she'd heard on her lunch break about a shooting in a one room schoolhouse in Amish country.

This is the third school shooting in less than a week.

How do I know this? Kizz posted an entry on her blog about gratitude on September 20th(it was she, not Oprah, who got me started on the daily gratitude kick). I posted a comment on that entry about how grateful I am for our relative safety.

Three Amish girls were killed today. One girl died on September 26th. Their parents sent them to school and they will never come home.

I'm beginning to reconsider how safe I really feel.

Driven by this awful combination of fear and sorrow and sympathy for the parents of those girls, I wrote a letter to my daughters' teachers, their principal, and the superintendent of schools for our district:

Dear Messrs. Superintendent, Principal and Second Grade Teacher, and Mrs. Fourth Grade Teacher:

On September 20th, a friend asked me to list five things for which I was grateful. Here's one of the items in my list:

*Our relative safety. I don't have to worry too much about my children's school being stormed by hostage-takers or about someone walking into my local Panera and blowing themselves up. I'm not so arrogant to think that those things could NEVER happen here and am watching with increasing horror as our nation's policies continue to ignore the idea that they COULD, but for now, I'm grateful that they don't.*

I'm writing to you in response to the three school shooting incidents that have happened in the U.S. since September 20th to ask what kind of safeguards and policies are in place should something like that happen in our schools. I've been listening to a lot of news lately (the wisdom of which, at the best of times, seems in question) and it's becoming startlingly obvious that my fears should not rest with Chechen-like terrorist, but with the random hostage taker with undefinable motives.

We never think it could happen to us. My point is that if it can happen in an unknown rural schoolhouse filled with Amish children, we really have to stop thinking that it can't happen in Small New England Town.

Forgive me for being - I'm not sure how to describe what I'm feeling; "alarmist" doesn't quite cut it, as there's clearly cause for alarm, neither does "paranoid" work - let's go with "cautious," shall we? I'm certain that you can appreciate that my children are literally the most important people in the world to me and I need to feel that I do everything I can to ensure their safety and well-being.

Thank you so much for your time and attention.


-Mrs. Chili, Mom of Punkin' Pie, Grade 4 and Beanie, Grade 2

I got a response already from Beanie's teacher. I'm choking back tears. Here's what he wrote:

I want you to know that I treat and care for all my students the same way I do my own children.

I admire what you wrote and I agree that we should live life but also keep certain incidents/scenarios in the back of our minds.

Thanks for sharing.

I completely believe that he would do anything necessary to keep "his" kids safe and that does offer me a certain sliver of comfort.

It may be all I can ask for, but I'm not sure that's enough.


Blogger organic mama said...

Thank you for writing this. These shootings remind us that safety is a relative luxury in these Small New England Towns, that we must be ever grateful, but also constantly mindful of whatever we can do to preserve this safety. I am not proposing big city necessity-driven paranoia, but our schools must be safe. I have daughters too, and I will be holding them just a little closer and praying for sanity to prevail.

10:27 AM  
Blogger Kizz said...

FYI, I live in a big city. We're not quite as paranoid as you might think. Actually, much to my chagrin, I went to pick up a 5 year old friend at her school this summer and was buzzed in on verbal cues only. I didn't have to give my name, no one looked at my license. I wandered through the school, found her classroom, she saw me, I waved, I looked at the teacher and the teacher told her to go with me. To be fair they'd been told that someone was coming to pick her up but no one confirmed that I was that someone. Paranoia, anywere, is not the answer but a couple of simple identification exercises might be a damn nice start.

1:05 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home