Sunday, December 16, 2012

CT Shooting

I thought all weekend that I should write something regarding the CT Shooting because as a parent of a kindergartener, and a blogger of a website where I attempt to bring the worlds of parenting and education together, people might expect an idea. I don't have a clear idea, but lots of rambling.

In fact, I don't know what to say as I sit down to write this. There are people on Facebook talking about how God is sending Americans a message, because he is mad at us. Other people believe teachers should be armed, or a security guard should be in every school. People are sending anti-gun messages in emails. We have new memes. Tweets.

Some people are calling Adam Lanza a monster. The next person feels sorry for him. Someone else is mad at his mother, another at the NRA, and another at the lack of mental health care.

And my husband and I discussed what, if anything, to tell our very own kindergartener, the one we kissed and held for an hour straight Friday night, even though he tried to wriggle away. (We told him nothing). 

I was thinking all this tonight as I did a dash to a big-box store to pick something up for my mom's group Christmas party tomorrow morning. I had to pick up one ingredient, but looked around, and what I saw was sad.

I happened upon workers (who are probably receiving a terrible wage, with no benefits, who are probably parents who are tired and struggle to spend enough time with their children) unloading boxes upon boxes of junky toys. Toys that will not last a year, toys that will break before their new owner return to school in January, toys that will soon reside in a landfill, toys, most assuredly, that were not made in the United States. Toys that will not teach children anything - or that do not encourage creativity. Toys that won't be valued, to teach children appreciation.

Children are tiny compared to the rest of us. They don't think they are, which makes them even tinier. Parenting consumes adults - it changes us. We raise our kids in a society, in a culture, and that shapes them. Right now, we have a sad place to raise children. Was it always sad?

Prior generations had wars, famine, hushed molestation, and bans on "airing dirty laundry." I don't know that generations before us had an attack on basic values, that toys, clothing, and commercialization targeted children in underhanded, nasty ways. 

Meandering tonight, I gazed at dress-up clothes, size 4-5, that were see-through, black, with bloody skeletons on them. I saw a shirt that said, " 3 Things I'm Good At: making my homework disappear, annoying my sister, video games."

I guess you can dress your children in such garbage, and obviously people do, or it wouldn't be in the store. I don't advocate regulating what is sold or created, but I encourage parents to think before they buy. Parents are ultimately responsible for the messages their children receive.  

Wouldn't it be a welcome thought, to have a society that valued education over video games and kindness over bloody skulls? Life's not roses and ice-cream, I get it. But - size 4? Our culture instills violence into young, vulnerable lives. Then we all suffer. It would be nice if corporations were on parents and teachers' sides, if the bottom line wasn't the holy grail. It would be nice not to drive my kids to school and explain inappropriate commercialization to them.

I kept thinking, what if customers (parents) told these companies their stuff was junk and we didn't want it. Then I thought, I think we do. I think parents try. (I honestly believe parents and teachers try - they really do). Why won't this junk go away? It starts so early, and the desire of a designer and a cheap shirt maker to rake in extra money takes precedent over sending young kids a positive message.

So yes, it absolutely parents' jobs to protect children. It is our jobs to instill our values, to interpret messages for them (and teach them how to analyze), to put the heavy weight of life's sorrows on our shoulders.  And yes, it is our job as parents to keep all this junk out of our kids' lives, all this stuff that we as parents deem as junk. And I understand that every parent's definition of "junk" differs.

I'm tired though, and I have years and years of parenting left to do. 'Sad' does not cover the emotions of the CT shooting - heartbreaking, unfathomable, and horrific still do not give the events justice.

Sad does cover how I feel about our society right now, and its violence and apathy for our tiniest members.