How do you explain?

I've spent the weekend keeping the news off--working to protect my three kids from knowledge about what happened on Friday while trying to figure out how to share the news so that they aren't blindsided tomorrow as they return to school and volunteering.

I've read the blogs, news articles, statements on the shooting and the speculation that the shooter was on the spectrum. I've watched my facebook feed, not commenting, as friends deal with this incident in their own way, with some furious, upset, and unsettled with the speculation that the individual was either on the spectrum or mentally ill (two different things), with many of them focusing their disappointment and outrage on the blog by Liza Long in which the author writes openly of the difficulty in getting her beloved son the help he needs, the threats of violence he often makes, the need for psychiatric inpatient care, how he can change rapidly from sweet and calm to violent.

Some parents and individuals have greeted the piece with an amen that the issues of dealing with violent and aggressive children are being openly spoken about. Some individuals are horrified that the mother has written the piece, suggested that autism or another neurological issue is at the root of the issue.

Whiplash and whirlpools.

And none of it helps me explain to my daughters that they may hear about this at school. None of it helps me figure out how to convey what happened with the gravity it deserves without harming them. While media figures speculate about autism and lack of empathy, my three children who feel events as if they personally happened to them, who ache for those who suffer or hurt, will have their world changed by the words I say, their innocence shattered. And yet that shattering is nothing to compare with what the families of those who were killed are dealing with.

While pundits argue about gun control and mental health issues and autism and so many people put their spin on the horrible tragedy, families are forever torn apart in Connecticut. So many innocent children lost, along with the adults who taught and cared for them, so many families devastated.

And all the while whiplash and whirlpools as people line up on sides and try to out-talk the other side. Why can't it be a call to grieve and offer comfort and also, when there's been time to honor those lost, the opportunity to talk openly about both gun control and mental health issues? Why can't we discuss what the second amendment means, why "God in the schools" wouldn't change a thing when an armed gunman walks in off the street, how we talk about, with and to those with mental health issues?

Why don't we talk about the lack of training, the lack of support, the lack of facilities equipped to help children with severe behavioral issues? Why don't we talk about how far too often families are isolated and left to deal with loved ones with significant issues without adequate health care?

Why do we have to be all or nothing? Why do we have to yell at each other and use every incident to further our own agendas?

Why? Why are so many families dealing with the loss of their loved ones while so many others weigh in when they don't have all the information about the events?

How do we explain to our children that horrible, terrible things happen? How do we equip them with the strength and fortitude to continue to go out into the world certain that good people abound and that everything will be okay? How?


kathleen said...

Oh how alike we think...instead of telling my kids straight out about this..(for the same reasons you have difficulty telling your kids) We have spent the day discussing all the good people in our lives..why we honor them and value them..how they make our lives better just by being there...How good out wieghs the bad...and that we need to always remember that when not so good things happen..I need to build up their world and their safety nets before we discuss this...I'm not sure how and if it will be discussed tomorrow...

melbo said...

You always express this stuff so well.

I opted not to tell mine about it (even though one overheard a snippet on the radio before I turned it down).

I don't know what the answer is. I try to be honest with them and answer their questions but that is all I can do. I feel for parents like yourself who have kids of an age where the awareness of a violent act is there but the complexity of it makes it difficult to explain. You never know how much or how little.

Struggling to find the right words right now, as I think many are.