I don’t want to talk about what happened.
I don’t want to talk about the boy who walked into a school last Friday morning. I don’t want to talk about his motive, or his mental state or his actions. I don’t want to talk about our gun control policies or how we stop the violence. Certainly, these discussions need to take place. But I’m no expert and — for me — now is not the time.
I want to talk about the teachers. Therein lays the hope in this deplorable, devastating crime.
I didn’t know what to say about any of this, and didn’t plan to write anything on this topic. But last night, when I let my son choose his bedtime story, he pulled “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” off the shelf. We snuggled in to the cozy chair in his room, and he began paging through the book while I located his pacifier and got comfortable in my spot. When I looked up, he had the book open to the page covered with the bright, colorful faces of a classroom full of children.
What do you see?
He quietly pointed to the face of a boy, and then moved his little finger around the page from girl to boy to girl to boy. My eyes welled with unexpected tears as I whispered, “Children. Those are children.”
Next, he moved backward through the book, and the Teacher’s warm, knowing face gazed up at us from the page.
What do you see?
I whispered through tears, “That is a teacher. She helps the children.”
It is a horror to think of what those children and teachers saw that day. But it is an inspiration to think of what those teachers did that day.
Our society is woefully remiss in celebrating the men and women who shape our children. We send our nation’s young to classrooms like the ones in Sandy Hook every day, and in each one, there is an underpaid teacher pulling off a minor miracle. These people inspire creativity and curiosity in our kids while managing disputes, confiscating cell phones and administering discipline. It is truly amazing what they do.
Today, I want to talk about those heroic teachers who shielded the children from harm with their very bodies. I want to thank those who locked their classroom doors, kept calm and did all they could to keep their students safe.
Would I have thought to read to the children to soothe them? Would I have been able to keep my voice even as gunshots echoed through the halls? Would I have had the foresight to tell them I loved them in case those were the last words they heard? I doubt it.
At least for these first few days, let’s talk only about the teachers and the kids. Let’s remember them, honor them and mourn their too-soon departure. Let’s send our love to those who survived this horrific incident and turn off the TV so the media trucks will leave Sandy Hook. Let’s switch the channel when we see a schoolchild being interviewed, whether their parent allows it or not.
Let’s thank our teachers every chance we get.
Until I’m better able to wrap my head around the immense tragedy that happened last Friday, I will focus on the stories of heroism and hope. I will be thankful for the parents who saw their children come home unharmed and the teachers who made their school proud.
As for the incredible grief I feel for those parents whose children did not come home: I’m not yet ready to face it. It’s too awful to think about the precious babies who didn’t know such horror existed until they saw it. I’ll save that for another day.
Today is for the teachers.