Yesterday Daddy and I came to your school and attended your “Friendship Party” for Valentines Day. It was so fun to see your interact with your little friends and your teachers. You are such a “fun”instigator, i.e. handing out dinosaur toys to everyone, parents included, to play with you. Your Dad says that’s my fault. And I’m OK with that.
While we were sitting at your party watching you eat all manner of things from cupcakes to carrots, a news alert went off on my phone saying that there had been a school shooting at a high school in south Florida. I showed your Dad the alert and he just shook his head.
Unfortunately, that’s what most adults who are parents are doing today.
We are 46 days in to 2018 and there have already been 18 school shootings.
As we sat in the floor of your two year old classroom, I looked around at all the sweet, innocent faces of you and your friends and just wondered how things could turn out like this.
The news continued to roll in and finally a shooter had been captured and identified. He’s a 19 year old boy. A boy that had gotten into a lot of trouble at his school and had been expelled. Which means he was asked to never come back to their campus.
We still don’t know a lot about him. His name is Nikolas Cruz and he apparently had acted out several times and blamed it on bullying. He had made threats before and his teachers were worried about him and his behavior.
The idea of sending you to school should not scare us as your parents. It should excite us. It should be exciting to see you learn to read, to do math, to learn science and to learn history. And those are amazing things that we hope and pray you will have every opportunity to do.
But there’s another part of us that is terrified to send you to school. To a place where you may encounter a situation like the kids in Parkland, Florida, faced yesterday. The idea that you could be sitting in your class one day, hopefully paying attention to the lesson, and a gunmen could come in and inflict harm on you or your friends is unspeakable. And the idea that you could be taken from us inside the halls of a school we choose to send you to is simply unthinkable.
I get nauseous even thinking about it.
Today there are mommys and daddys who are facing the first morning without their children because of this gunman’s actions. It’s just not right son.
Parents of high school students shouldn’t be planning funerals, or sitting at bedsides in ICU. They should be planning for college visits and proms.
In our nation we have something called the United States Constitution. This is a set of laws that we have to obey and they were created to protect us. Sort of like how Mommy always tells you to hold her hand in the parking lot and Daddy always tells you to sit on your bottom instead of climbing on things. We aren’t trying to stop you from having fun, we are simply trying to make sure you are safe and grow up to be a strong young man who is happy and healthy.
In the Constitution the second amendment, or law, allows people in our country to “keep and bear arms.” That means they can have guns.
You were born in south Arkansas and you will learn in our trips back home, lots of our family likes to go hunting. They go hunting to kill animals to eat. You will also learn that a lot of folks we know have guns in their house to protect them in case a bad person breaks into their house. They never intend to hurt someone with these guns, but they have them in case they have no other option.
These folks are different than Nikolas Cruz. Nikolas used a gun with the intent to hurt someone.
But sometimes it’s hard to know when someone is going to do something good or bad with something.
The details of this shooting are still coming in today while I’m writing you this letter, so there’s always a chance that this young man chose to have a gun without doing all the right things to own one.
The thing that makes life hard is that no matter how much mommys, daddys, Gigis, and teachers teach children to do the right thing in the end, they can still choose to do the wrong thing. It’s a lot like how you know Daddy doesn’t like for you to crawl over the back of the couch, but sometimes, you still do it. Luckily for you, Daddy is usually there to remind you not to do that, or to catch you before you fall.
But, Mommy and Daddy can’t always be there to remind you of the right things or to protect you.
And that’s really hard on us.
We’d love to wrap you in a big bubble so you’d never get hurt. But that’s not how life goes. And you need to develop your own moral code and sense of self awareness. Our job is to give you all the tools to do that.
There’s a lot of people who are saying that this boy that shot his schoolmates had been bullied. If that is true, this will not be the first time that a school shooting has happened as a repercussion to bullying.
Bullying is when people choose to be unkind to those around them. They may use mean words, or do hurtful things to them physically. They may also exclude others from their friend circles. They may not talk to certain other kids.
None of that is OK.
If we teach you anything in life son, please know that you should always be kind. You should always include everyone. And you should always seek out those who are not included and do better for them.
There are lots of adults that are arguing about guns today.
There are a lot of adults who feel like that that rule I told you about in the Constitution should not be changed. And there are a lot of adults who feel like that it should.
Sometimes when laws are written they address the issues of that day and age. And as time goes on, sometimes those needs change and occasionally those rules should change with the times.
This young man had a gun that was super powerful that they use in wars. Mommy is of the mindset that there’s no reason an everyday American, not on a battlefield, shouldn’t have that type of gun. That’s way more than you’d need to protect your home or to hunt with.
As you get older we promise to teach you what we know about gun safety and laws involved and we will encourage you to make your own decisions on your opinions of guns when you are old enough to do that.
But for now, we are doing everything we can to protect you.
Daddy has to remind me a lot that God is your protector and provider and we are simply the earthly vessels to be here for you. It’s hard to trust your life and future to God, but let’s be honest, there’s no one better to trust. He did create the entire universe after all.
So for now little boy, Mommy will be writing letters to our politicians to encourage them to outlaw those super powerful guns from anything but the military. We promise to always make sure we do everything in our power to keep you in schools that give you the best chance at being safe. And we will continue to teach you how to treat others and how to protect others in case the situation ever arises.
We love you baby boy, and we pray that as you get older the adults around you help to make this a better, safe place for you to grow up. We promise you we will do everything we can to help make that dream a reality.