Most mornings are pure chaos. It's a mad dash against the clock, as I fight to get all three boys fed and dressed and out the door. We do not want to be late. No. If Zachary arrives only sixty seconds late to his first grade class that means a trip to the office to obtain a dreaded tardy slip. God forbid.
So there are no leisurely, pleasant walks to school, instead I feel like a drill Sargent "Come on boys! Pick up the pace! Move it! Move it! Move it!" Inevitably there is a great deal of whining and moaning from the middle child who thinks that walking a fourth of a mile is an enormous burden, certainly far to great for a four and a half year old. I spend my time barking at him to suck it up, and move along.
By the time we arrive at Zachary's school I am clearly frazzled, annoyed and just plain exhausted. There are no hugs goodbye, Zack is usually running the last paces trying to make it to his classroom before the bell. "Bye Zack!" I will call out, "Have a nice day!" He rarely turns to acknowledge me. He is in a hurry. This is our routine.
But not anymore.
Today was a rude awakening. Parents of school aged children around the country wept and gave thanks for their babies whom they would pick up today. Safe. The images of the screaming children in Connecticut struck too close to home. That elementary school could have been our neighborhood school. Those parents who received the news that they had no children to pick up could have been us. They could have been us.
And what if my child's last memory would have been of me yelling at him for forgetting his lunch box? Or of me ignoring him as I scolded his brother for walking too slow? What if I realized I did not hug my son goodbye, that I didn't tell him I loved him? What if I was left forever wondering if he thought I was angry at him for taking too long at breakfast? No. I would not want to live with that.
Monday morning, I plan on focusing on what is important. I will not be angry with my boys. I will not order them around. If we are late for school the world will not come to an end. My child will not be destined to be a dropout. The most important thing I can do is send my child to school every day knowing that I love him with all of my heart. Because I do.
So many of us feel frightened and vulnerable. We leave our children in the hands of near strangers every day and hope for the best. We cannot shelter them from insults, failures or bullets. There has always been evil, tragedy and danger in this world. It comes in different forms. Natural disasters. Disease. Famine. And now... mass murder. There is little we can control. But we can give our kids the best we have. We can love them and let them know how much they are treasured. That is our job. That is just what I am going to do.