Her: “Mama, what does ‘secure the building’ mean?”
Me: “It means to make the building safe. Why do you ask?”
Her: “Today our principle said over the speaker, “Secure the building,” so we practiced hiding in the bathroom with our teachers and being very quiet and good listeners. Mrs. B said that if that happens it means that there is a bad guy in the building and we have to hide to be safe so that we don’t get hurt. We also practiced in the gym and hid on the stage behind the curtain. We couldn’t turn on the lights because we didn’t want the bad guy to see us.”
**At this point tears are visibly streaming down my face and my entire stomach is in knots**
Me: “Sweetie, I am so so sorry that you had to practice doing that.”
Her: “Why are you crying, mommy?”
Me: “Because you shouldn’t live in a world where you have to practice hiding from bad guys in school.”
Her: “Mama, what makes people bad? Are they born mean? Why would they want to hurt me?”
**I am now speechless and heartbroken and fumbling for words to explain the inexplainable. How do you even begin that conversation? How do you talk about all the ugly and hate and violence and death with a five year old, let alone yourself? How do you talk about why people do awful, terrifying, terrible things, when you don’t even understand it?**
Me: “That’s a really complicated, hard question and I don’t have good or easy answers for you.”
Her: “Mama, am I safe at school?”
And I say, yes, even though there are headlines that leave me questioning my own attempts at honesty.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, You cannot stop violence with violence.
Count your blessings. And write your representatives.