I was working on Friday when I found out. I was scrolling through my Facebook feed on my phone and started to see posts saying things like “Oh my God.” and “praying for Connecticut.” Then I saw a link and clicked on it. “Gunman at Elementary School in CT, at least 18 dead.”
I got about halfway through the article and then stopped. I didn’t need to see any more. Luckily for me, I only had 20 minutes left before I could leave and go pick The Jillian up from school, so I did my very best to keep my shit together despite feeling a slight panic attack coming on.
FUN! It’s a good thing I’ve been mentally unstable all these years because I am very good at hiding it when I need to.
As the day progressed and details of what happened in Newtown started to pour in, my reaction was horror. Just… horror. Because if something like that can happen there, it can happen anywhere. Maybe even here.
At school pickup, all the parents looked at each other with scared eyes and asked “have you heard? So awful” in hushed tones. The teacher Jillian had for kindergarten last year brought her wee ones out to the lobby to be picked up and a couple of the moms rushed to give her a hug. She was confused because she hadn’t heard. “Just… turn on the news when you can,” we said.
Once home, I had to think a little bit about what to tell Jillian. In the end, I simply put on the news to see if she would even notice. If she did, then we’d talk about it and I would answer any questions she had. She didn’t notice, and after about an hour of the news, I switched it off. The only thing I did make sure to do was to ask her about lockdown drills and if she knew what to do. I did my best to ask in a way that was just looking for information, and I think I did a good enough job.
And then I told her what Mr. Rogers said: “Look for the helpers. There will always be people who are helping.”
She is six years old. She is in first grade. I firmly believe that she does NOT need to know what happened in Connecticut, to kids her age, in her same grade. She doesn’t need to know. I’m glad it didn’t really ping her radar, even when we had the news on. A six-year-old SHOULD be oblivious, and I’m going to let her continue on this way as long as I can. If she finds out and asks questions, then I will deal with it but I am not going to volunteer any information to her because who does that serve? No one.
However, that meant that we needed to keep the TV pointed away from most major networks and news sources for the weekend. I think that was helpful for all of us, but it meant a couple extra days of keeping our shit together for Jillian’s benefit. For me, that manifests as bad dreams and wakefulness and I know the only way out of that, for me, is to watch the news and see what happened. Then I’ll be able to deal with it. Maybe.
So, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to put the news on.