I was struggling to write a post today that was witty and light but I’ve come up flat for two reasons: (1) I pulled a muscle in my neck last night that has left me virtually unable to do anything but writhe in pain and (2) I’m feeling a little somber. Go figure.
Walking to a Christmas party on Friday night, people commented on how the air was heavy, the mood was dampened, and nobody felt quite right. It wasn’t our child in that school, it wasn’t our brother or sister or mother or father locking their classroom doors and putting themselves in harm’s way for a first grader. And perhaps we’ve been lucky enough to not be personally affected by a tragedy like this one in the past. But for some reason, this event, this moment, at this time of year, struck a chord that’s been reverberating all weekend.
When I was six or seven years old, I could often be found in a tutu of some sort, wearing my mom’s high heels, dancing to a Madonna tape, and having completely rational conversations with my husband, The Hulk.
My sister and I would spend hours jumping from pillow to pillow to avoid the sharks in the water, building cabins with Lincoln Logs, and sending Barbie and Ken on date after date before realizing that maybe he just wasn’t that into her. But whatever, she got to keep the pink Corvette and his underpants were glued to his body, so really, it was more his loss than hers.
I lived in a world of fantasy and sparkles and excitement, dreaming of the days when I wouldn’t be borrowing my mom’s make-up for play but actually wearing it out in public because I was grown up enough to know how to stay inside the lines.
My imagination swirled around all things adults could do with a flair for the dramatic that is far from unique to a first grader. And as I’ve watched my niece grow up into a sparkling, intelligent, gentle six year old, I can’t help but be transported back to those days and flooded with the memories of wanting to make my own rules, set my own agenda, and play with my Cabbage Patch Dolls until they just couldn’t take it anymore.
But now that I’m an adult I’ve realized that the jig is up. Because while we’ve set up our own rules and have made our own agendas, something has gone awry and we don’t know how to fix it. We sit with our peers and their children, shake our heads, point our fingers, and wonder when someone will do something to stop this.
We debate and we get enraged and we sling arrows. We scream about policy and we blame the other guy and we tell our children that they’re safe and secure and we’ll never let anyone hurt them. And then we look in the mirror and reassure ourselves that that’s the truth.
I don’t claim to have the answers, and I’m pretty sure nobody would listen to the chick in glitter shoes anyway. I also realize that this isn’t a typical post, but you’d be remiss to believe that it’s a political one. The last thing I’m interested in talking about is the politics behind a tragedy, because that seldom actually gets us anywhere. But if we don’t start talking and listening and doing, this will absolutely not be the last time this chord is struck.
I’ll be back at you on Wednesday, live from the mitten I call the homeland, and I promise you that, at the very least, I’ll be on some sort of pain relieving medication that will render me more entertaining and slightly less Debbie Downer than I am today.
Also, my parents totally want to make the blog as often as CB does, so I’m pretty sure they’ll be some killer stories to share in the week to come. So…stay tuned!
Happy Monday, everyone.