You should be, too.
Americans should be incensed.
The entirety of media has been inundated with responses to the unforgivably horrid tragedy that befell Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Florida. The liberals are crying out for gun control, the conservatives have their crosshairs on the FBI for having missed signs of impending irrational doom from the murderer. Forty-five offered thoughts and prayers. Again.
Again - a school was targeted.
Again - students and teachers were murdered.
Again - an AR-15 semi-automatic style weapon was used.
Again - parents are burying their babies.
Again - a white male perpetrated the murders.
Again - vigils will be held.
As a teacher, I think, often of what I would do if a shooter entered our building. I could jump out of the window - two floors above the grass below. My students and I may break our ankles, or legs, but we'd still be alive. We have been through ALICE training as a staff. For those of you who don't know what ALICE is, the acronym stands for: Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Confront, Evacuate. How often do you have to consider these scenarios as part of your daily life? It's my reality. For fuck's sake, I went to school to be a teacher. To read books with students, to raise the level of articulation in their writing, to talk about how author's make commentary on humanity - and now some of you want me to be armed? I am a teacher. I TEACH.
I've seen the arguments. I've read the articles, the comments, the memes, the cartoons.
It's a gun issue.
It's not a gun issue, it's a mental health issue.
The second amendment; the only way to stop a bad guy with guns, is a good guy with guns.
Rules aren't going to stop bad guys; if they want to do harm they'll find a way.
It always comes back to the gun argument, doesn't it?
A charged and frenetic discussion, at that. Why is it that a pole has shown that *most* Americans are in favor of increased gun legislation, but nothing has been done? I know, I know - it's not a gun issue, it's a people issue. Gun owners are afraid that the government is coming for their firearms, and that "..the right of the people to keep and bear Arms.." will be infringed upon. And it's not like the US has an inordinate number of folks who live with mental illness. Girls also deal with mental illness just as much as boys, but it seems as though white males are the ones doing the harm.
So why do we have such an issue with mass shootings?
First let me say: keep your guns, folks. No one is trying to take them all away.
I'm all for responsible gun ownership. While I'm not a fan of guns myself, I don't think everyone should be stripped of their firearms - really. Go ahead, protect yourselves and your families with your handguns, shotguns, and rifles. Keep them locked appropriately. Practice gun safety.
What I'm for is common sense gun reform.
I get that most guns sold and collected in the United States are semi-automatic, firing a single shot with every pull, automatically reloading between shots. But gun owners - I ask this of you: Why do you need to own an "assault weapons" such as TEC9s and AR15s? Those aren't necessary to protect yourselves and your families. Why do these need to be available to civilians? And my goodness, a zero waiting period at that in some states to make such a purchase.
There is a steep mountain of gun reform to climb in this country, and it's going to take a whole lotta folks, knocking down some serious money-backed walls, and maybe even those who have remained silent. The ones who own guns, but perhaps don't agree with the NRA. Frankly, it's daunting to consider the idea of controlling firearms traffic in a country with hundreds of millions of citizens and almost as many guns. The students of Florida that are speaking out and pointing fingers at the adults in this country who govern our laws, are making waves. They are angry, and they are doing something. Let's not forget, as well, the tireless crusade of the parents turned activists, left devastated by the horror in Newtown. Who else is going to march, protest, write letters, call representatives, and join this conversation, willing and ready to DO SOMETHING?
Gun control laws won't eradicate all problems - we'd be naive to believe so. But why not make things a little harder? Often I hear the argument that cars are lethal objects, and if we're going to strip folks of their guns, shouldn't we take cars away then, too? Where would it stop? Take a moment, though and look at history. As we have learned better, we do more. Regulations WERE put into place with cars. Laws were made about seat belt usage, speed limits, and now, even cell phone usage while driving. Does it stop everyone from breaking those laws? Of course not, but many people DO in fact follow those rules, and lives HAVE been saved. We as a country and society put limits on several facets of life, including how many animals one can own, what blood alcohol level is acceptable while driving, how many hours you can work as a minor, etc. We don't stop instituting laws and following rules simply because we know that not everyone will follow them. We don't throw our hands up in the air and yell, why bother! Good grief, by many accounts we are a civilized society, and we follow rules. Just read Lord of the Flies if you'd like an alternative version of life without parameters.
We ask folks to apply for permits, take tests, and seek licenses to own and operate cars - can't, at minimum, we ask that? How about:
- Permits to own and operate all firearms.
- Required registration of all firearms, that requires yearly renewals.
- A ban on assault style firearms like TEC9s and AR15s.
- Ban the use of bump stocks (or any other device that could be used to modify guns so that they become automatic).
- Ban the sale of large magazines and armor-piercing bullets.
- Extended waiting periods, and background checks on ALL purchases (close the gun show and private sale loopholes).
- Require certification and tests that have to be renewed.
- Do not allow those deemed mentally ill, or with a history of violent crimes, to own guns.
big girl room, the hallmark of which was a twin bed. You loved it. There were little, if any, bumps in trying to convince you to sleep in the new bed. In fact, I don't recall anything at all.
And then three and a half months later we went to California for two weeks in which the three of us, me, you, and Nana, slept together in one bed. Upon return to your room, you decided sleeping alone wasn't cool anymore, so into our bed you migrated. You stayed there until your third birthday, in October, when I created this elaborate scheme to get you back into your own bed. Luna your personal fairy arrived, replete with a fairy door, and a picture of the two of you together while you were sleeping (thanks, Photoshop). Luna also left you a letter in which she explained that she would watch over you as you slept, and that three year-olds are brave and sleep in their own beds. She also left you a new night light that projected stars on your ceiling.
It was a hit, and back into your bed you went.
Until the novelty wore off, and somehow I found you right back at my side again a few months later. Shadows you said. You needed me, you said.
You needed me.
To feel needed is sublime. To know that my presence has the power to cure all your fears is, frankly, intoxicating. You and I both love Wonder Woman, and it's in these moments that I actually feel as powerful. I was never ashamed of the co-sleeping, and I enjoyed sleeping next your warm body. It was equal parts survival and IDGAF. It was, for the time being, working.
Then it wasn't. For a while we dealt with the tossing and turning, kneeing Big Red, and landing elbows on my nose. We were losing sleep. And then it got dramatically worse: you decided the act of going to sleep, at all, was purgatory, and by doing so, took us with you into the pit of hell.
Every single night was an ongoing battle to go to bed. Gone were the calm evenings of stories and songs. In their place were tears and screaming. We bargained, we pleaded. In our worst moments we stomped away frustrated, we yelled. I became angry that I was losing my nights to your hysterics. My darling, I love you in ways words cannot even touch, and yet in those moments, I wanted to mute your cries, to teleport myself out of our sweet home and into someplace, anyplace else. Some nights I was able to call up the patience that you required, and I saw you for exactly what you were: a little girl who felt safe at her mama's side. I would repeat to myself, a mantra: this is what she needs right now, lay with her, it's just a phase, you'll miss this when it's gone. That would get me through a few evenings, but surely as still waters run deep, that ball of anger and frustration would gurgle and rise like a geyser. Again I'd be all rage and fury.
Earlier this month, Big Red and I spoke after a particularly difficult evening and agreed it was time to help you back into your bed. We would draw a line in the sand upon our return from our annual trip to California. I would be as transparent as possible, and we would hold our ground. And by golly it worked. The day you went back into your bed, I told you what would be happening, and true to form, you responded with angry tears and arms crossed over your chest. Proclamations of I WILL NOT! filled our house. I explained there'd be a prize for which to work, which seemed to help.
As the day progressed, I remind you of what would happen. That night we read books, sang songs, and chatted. You asked if I would be in my bed. I explained that I'd be downstairs with Daddy, but eventually I'd go to bed, just like you were doing, and I'd be on the other side of your door.
You have successfully been in your bed since.
The last night you slept in our bed, I watched you and was drawn to the pulse in your neck. The way the rush of blood, sweeping back and forth, made the skin leap up and down. I tried to remain as present as possible, not projecting what would happen the next night, if it would work or not, but rather just being your mama, next to you. You are a fiery, independent, strong-willed little girl, Lucy. In those moments as my eyes traversed the beautiful contours of your perfect face, I thought about how I could best support you. Not just in that hour, but as you continue to grow into yourself, whatever self evolves. I asked myself how to always remain a reflective mama so as not to stand in your way, to never unintentionally clip those dazzling wings. My girl, light always finds you, and I never want to be the one who casts a shadow.
As I wrote earlier, it's absolutely marvelous to feel needed. There will come a day though, when your need for me will change. But darling - you take the lead. I will follow as you are not mine to hold onto; you are your own. Know though, that I am always here, your soft place to fall, just on the other side of the door.
On Sunday I will wake up next to her sweet face (I need to sleep in your bed, mama) as she points to the window and announces that it's morning time, mama, and she will give me a card she made (it's a surprise so she's already told me so). Perhaps there will be a few other acknowledgements, and a sunny day spent together while Big Red grills some steaks. Me and my girl. The girl who made me a mother.
My sweet Lucille, this was not the morning to which I'd hoped you'd wake up. Our country is very clearly still living within the confines of a patriarchy. But - make no mistake - our knuckles have grazed the glass, and while we were unable to completely shatter that ceiling, there are fractures. Someday, my love, someday. Maybe it will be you.
|I sincerely hope I can pull this letter out in four years, and it will mean something in a way it didn't this year.|