Things aren’t like they used to be.
That’s a pretty general statement; it’s also the reality I came to face most recently as I tried to make sense of a host of senseless shootings/killings.
As a family we innocently woke on a recent Sunday morning only to be greeted by news of the killings in Texas and then Ohio. The looks on both of my children’s faces rivaled that of the adults sitting at the table. It simply made no sense.
Before continuing on, I think it fair to make clear; this will not be a piece about gun control and shame on our government. That’s a different piece for a different day and these cowards (in my opinion) have just made life more difficult and microscopic for responsible gun owners.
The reality I came to following this news happened later that day, as I attended a Pitbull concert with some friends and my 12-year-old daughter. Out for a good time and not letting the morning news affect our fun, I became blindsided when my girlfriend assessed the crowd.
To her credit she’s a Sheriff by trade and assessing crowds is second nature to her. It is after all what they are trained to do and I’m grateful for that.
As she assessed the large crowd, she shared with us some safety tactics if a shooting should break out. I mean, one never really knows where the crazy is going to show up and out of love and caring she was providing us with the “tools” if you will.
The simple conversation of this sent my 12-year-old into pure emotion. Seeing the fear on her face, the younger of our crowd quickly jumped to her aid, reassuring her everything would be fine.
It was in that very moment that I recognized how different it is to be 12 now versus when I was her age.
Now granted, bad things happened then too and the first concert I attended with my mom at Circle Star Theater a crazy person could have opened fire or even started a fire. Crazy knows no limit.
The difference however is much bigger than that.
As the girls worked at calming my daughter, I shared with the group what I quickly realized. These kids are growing up during a time and reality that we can’t even imagine. It’s no longer as simple as fire drills and earthquake drills at schools. Students are now learning to stack desks at their classroom doors, to arm themselves with “weapons” i.e., scissors, hole punchers and the like and to “fight” or “flight” in varying situations.
As I looked at the fear in my 12-year-old’s face, I quickly recognized this wasn’t a tween being dramatic, it was a genuine feeling of being overwhelmed. The simple excitement of seeing a performer with her mom and friends in an instant took a turn to reality that she wasn’t perhaps ready for.
If being honest, neither was I. Attending amusement parks, movies, concerts or even bars (in the case of the Ohio shootings) are our escapes. Our time to let loose and relax a bit from the worries of everyday life. Perhaps that’s why things happen there.
Whatever the case and whatever your belief, be gentle with our young. Only in time will we all truly understand the psychological effects this crazy time in society is having on our young.
As for me and mine, we won’t live in fear. Life indeed will go on and we will continue to live it to its fullest. Yes, there will be days they stack desks or review their flight plan in school. If that is what it takes to return them home safely each day, so be it.
If we choose to live in fear, the irrational killer wins. We simply can’t allow that to happen.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.