Tuesday, December 18, 2012


I have not been able to stop thinking about the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary since I first heard about it on Friday.

I wanted to write a post that day. But I knew it would be a jumbled mess of emotion and rage and terror. I told Austin what happened and he turned on the news to a scene of chaos and confusion. We watched for a few minutes, and just as I was reaching my breaking point the new caster announced "All of the 20 children killed were between 5 to 10 years old" and I lost all grip on emotion. I jumped up just as Austin was asking "How..." and choked through tears that I couldn't sit there and watch it any more. He hugged me while I cried and I fell apart.

Of course, I'm thinking about my own children and how I would cope if something like this ever happened to one of them (I wouldn't, by the way). But I'm also thinking of those children and the absolute horror they must have felt. Knowing now that they were all 6-7 year old first graders, the same age as my precious nephew, makes it all more real. My heart breaks for them, and it breaks for their parents. It breaks for the survivors and the emotional scars they'll likely carry for the rest of their lives. It breaks for that small community who now are struggling to put the pieces together and figure out how to move forward.

It breaks for the entire country. Because I think we all felt it. I think we all held our breath for just a second as our brains tried to process the hows and whys.

Now government leaders and know-it-alls on Facebook continue to discuss gun control and how this happened because God wasn't in that school (please). How only prayer will make these things stop and we need MORE guns and those kindergarten teachers should have been packing heat. But if we look beyond all of that and take a harsh realistic stance, nothing will make these things stop. They'll  continue to happen. It will continue to be tragic. And every time we'll talk about gun control and God and monsters, and we'll be at the mercy of mental illness.

No matter what gun policy is put in to place, I can't help but feel like we need to start at the roots of growth. We need better funding for early intervention programs. We need more schools with behavior specialists and more resources for behavioral therapy. Parents need help, and the fact of the matter is they don't always have the funds or the resources or the time to recognize that fact.

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure no one could have predicted a tragedy on this scale. The fact that some news outlets are discussing Autism as a reason is infuriating and shows at best, a basic misunderstanding between ASD and a severe mental illness.  I just wish it was possible for teachers to be trained to recognize early signs of illness and act swiftly to get the parents informed and get them help. Maybe it wouldn't help at all. But maybe it would make one less child feel different and alone to know that other kids go through it too.

Nothing can fully explain this. No one answer will ever give the parents peace. I just hope time can ease the ache in their hearts.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Growing Up

Today was Punkin's first day of preschool.

We took him to meet his teacher and classmates last week. He walked into the classroom and shyly looked around at all the other children running around. They were just doing circle time and were starting to read a book and when Punkin saw that it was One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish he was very excited. It's one of his favorites to read with Austin.

We snuck in to the hallway with the teacher and peeked through the window to see him playing with trucks. We talked to the teacher about her curriculum and how we should handle potty training at school and when he usually naps. We peeked through the window a minute later to see him standing in the back of all the kids red faced and screaming with crocodile tears streaming down his face. He had realized we were gone and he was panicking.

Austin went and got him and carried him outside to where we were, and Punkin tugged on his hand saying "Come on, Daddy" as if to relay that he needed to get out of that place ASAP.

We've been trying to get him pumped for school ever since, telling him he would get to go play with friends and see Miss Sara (his teacher) and play on the playground. He wasn't enthused. Last time I asked "Hey, do you want to go see Miss Sara soon?!" he responded "Ummmmm....nooooooo".

So today was the day. We woke up late and scrambled to rush out the door. On the way there I talked to him about going to school, and he was fine until we got in to the classroom. He cried before we even left. I think all of the kids running around like crazy and being loud just overwhelmed him. We tried to get him to sit down and eat but he wasn't having it. We went ahead and left so it wouldn't be worse, and I fought back tears when I heard him wailing all the way down the hall.

On the way out we stopped in the parents room and had them turn the big TV to the channel that was his class so we could spy on him from a distance. Even with no sound you could see how upset he was. His teacher was holding him the entire time, trying to talk to him and make him feel better. We watched as a little girl walked up to him and offered him a toy and he refused it, pointing to the door we had just walked out of.

My Momma heart just broke. I felt like I was traumatizing him, like I was abandoning him. What if he thinks I'm never coming back? What if he thinks he's doomed to live there with a bunch of crazy kids forever? I know that's probably not true, but at that moment I felt like a horrible parent. I know he'd have so much fun with other kids and playing on the playground, he just has to be a little independent.

Sigh. I do not look forward to the day I have to do this all over again with Skeeter.