What happened in Newtown, Connecticut is horrible. But it’s not something my 8-year-old daughter needed to know about.
We’re a newsy family. The TV is usually on with a 24-hour news station running in the background. And my daughter is a fairly aware and mature kid. She looks forward to Tuesday nights because her favourite show is the Rick Mercer Report on CBC. She asks about politics. About wars.
My husband and I had been diligent about making sure she didn’t hear anything about the killings. About the 20 school children who were brutally massacred by a crazed gunman. What happened is a tragedy – but it’s not her reality and I didn’t want to make it so. But on Saturday she caught a brief glimpse of the shooting’s aftermath on TV. “What’s that?” she asked.
I explained. “A bad man went into a school and shot some kids,” I said.
“In the United States.”
“That’s far away, isn’t it?” she asked.
I nodded. “That’s sad,” she said. We made sure she heard or saw nothing else about it for the rest of the weekend.
On Monday my daughter went to school. When she came home, she mentioned the black armband her teacher wore.
“What was that for?” I asked.
“For those kids,” she said. Some teachers at the Toronto District School Board wore black armbands in homage to the teachers and the kids who were killed.
“Did you talk about it?” She nodded. “How’d it make you feel?” Sad. And scared.
She was scared. I was angry. I didn’t think her teachers had any right to bring the shooting into her school, breaching her safe boundaries. My husband and I explaining it to her briefly was one thing. But suddenly, in her young mind, thanks to her teachers, this shooting became part of her reality. Now there was indeed a possibility that a bad man could come into her school and hurt her.
Instead of protecting her, which I’m sure she thought she was doing, the teacher made my daughter feel unsafe. I wasn’t consulted. I wasn’t told. And I had no choice in the matter.
Innocents don’t need to be killed – and innocence doesn’t need to be lost because of one crazy man.