Thursday, December 20, 2012

My Worst Nightmare

I wrote this last week.  I write when I get upset. Just skip the rant if you'd like.  I just want my boys to be able to read someday, how I feel sometimes when bad things happen in our world. 

All three of our boys had the flu last week.  They haven't been that sick in a long time.  We're talking 104 fevers, lay without moving for hours, wouldn't eat for days kind of sick.  Two nights in a row I sat up all night holding Carter while he slept, worried his fever would go back up above 104, and he wouldn't be alright.  

After ridiculous insurance run arounds where they tried to send us to three different towns to see doctors, we got them into the Dr. who told us that the flu had pretty much subsided but had left raging ear infections for all three boys (none of which had complained about ears hurting.)  So we're on the road to recovery with antibiotics for the ear infections.  Carter was patient zero, he missed 5 days of school after coming home with the initial fever from school.  Jackson missed 4, and Owen got it a day before we finally got them in to see the doctor.  Turns out it was a good week for them to be home.  I loved having them home, and having no schedule.  
I loved it even more after Friday. 

I don't watch the news.  I hate it.  It either depresses, scares or makes me angry.  I hate politics (for the same reasons).  I do read headlines on my phone or the internet so I know what is going on, but then I feel like I can check in for a few minutes, know if something is happening, but still protect myself from all the doom, gloom and terror out in the world.  I have settings on my phone that if something big is happening I get alerts on my phone.  
Friday I got lots of alerts.  

I hate alerts.

I taught school before we had Jackson.  I planned to teach longer than I did, and I still miss it.  I knew I wanted to be a teacher since kindergarten (thanks to an amazing kindergarten teacher Mrs. Seville).  I tried other majors (7 in fact) I could have done other careers and been happy.  But in the back of my head and the back of my plans was always the fact that I knew I loved teaching.  

(Pardon the 8 month pregnant swollen face)

I loved my kids in my class.  I still think about them, wonder what they're doing, hope they're happy, and freak out when I realize my 3rd graders are now sophomores in High School.  I was a part of major things that happened in their lives, and they were apart of mine.  My 9 & 10 year old students threw my a baby shower.  I was blown away.  Not their moms.  They did.  I went home and cried over them for the struggles they were going through.  I celebrated when they had things go well for them.  I drove Bart crazy talking about them or destroying our apartment making things (or buying things with our non-existent income) for my classroom.  
I loved those kids, still do.  

I don't deal with change well.  I go numb for a while.  For days I couldn't think or process this horrible event.  My kids were home sick, we had a caroling party coming up. So I spent days holding feverish kids, and cleaning my house.  I ignored the alerts on my phone.  I didn't go to the candle light vigil held at our elementary school because I couldn't handle it.  I couldn't take my sweet boys there after them being sick all week, and tell them about the horrible things that happened.  I couldn't tell them that the boys (and girls) who died, were their age and look and act and love the same things that my boys do.  That their school was just like our school. 

Yesterday my boys went back to school.  Yesterday I walked them into the school, past our flag at half mast, into the office to sign off their excused absences and saw the wonderful ladies who work in the office.  Newtown, Connecticut is about twice as big as our small town, but I'm sure they felt the same way about their school that I do.  I call on the phone and say  "This is Jackson's mom" or "Carter left his ____" and they know exactly who I am.  When my boys are absent they call me and ask if they're okay.  I volunteer at the school every week and when I sign in they know me, and ask how our week is going.  Friends from my church work there.  Others have become friends and tell me about the struggles their having with their kids.  They tell me funny things my boys say or do at school.
These women are gold.  

Carter's classroom is two rooms down from the office.  
Jackson's classroom is four.  
After Friday I can't even explain how much that scared me. 

Today when I took them to school we sat in the parking lot for 10 minutes and I answered their questions.  I had explained before school yesterday very mildly what had happened.  Today I asked them what they had heard, and answered any questions they had.  

Then we talked about what they should do if something ever happened like that at our school.  

I never thought I would have to tell my boys to hide in a closet, or cabinet.  I never thought I'd hear Carter say he'd jump in a trash can in the lunchroom because it would be better to be dirty than to be hurt.  I cried.  I walked them into their classrooms walked out to my car and cried some more.  

As a mom and as a teacher I know I'm not alone in how heartbroken I feel.  I'm more proud of those teachers than I could ever express.  I know that they are true heroes but I also know that they are not the exception.  Almost all teachers I worked with, and have known as friends, or as my children's teachers would have done similar things.  Teachers truly love their kids.  

You don't teach elementary school if you don't love it (or at least you shouldn't.)  You don't teach if you don't love kids.  
You don't teach for elementary school for money, 
or for career advancement.  

I was recently talking to my sister-in-law whose roommate is dating a boy whose mom (got that?) thinks her sons should only marry women who have a real career and an ambitious major in mind.  She has specifically mentioned women with a lack of drive like Elementary Ed majors.  I laughed and jokingly apologized to my mother-in-law for being an El Ed major and 
being such a disappointment.  

I hope that mother was watching on Friday.  I hope she sees what kind of women are Elementary School teachers.  (And I hope that roommate runs far away from the Mother-in-law from Hell.) 

I won't talk about that man.  I feel like these situations get so much publicity the shooters go out in a flame of notoriety and that's what encourages more of these events.  

I was angry, very angry.  Today I'm heartbroken.  And grateful.  Grateful to the amazing women and men at my children's school.  I warned Carter's teacher about our parking lot discussion this morning, in case anything came up today, and as she told me a few things she'd thought through in case anything ever happened at our school I know it's because she loves those kids and she'd thought of how she'd protect them.  She told me she notices every time someone walks by her door, just in case.  
I'm grateful for her.  

I'm grateful for Jackon's teacher, who just spent time and effort getting a grant and raising funds so that in January his classroom will have 10 new laptop computers for the kids to use.  That is a big incentive for my technology driven boy.  She didn't have to do that.  
I'm grateful for her. 

They each have reading teachers, an science/art teacher, PE teacher, Music teacher and library teacher.  These teachers are the heroes in our home.  They are the greatest outlets for my loud, excitable, physical and science fascinated boys.  They make it possible for my kids to be creative, to get their wiggles and anxieties out, and to come home reading or singing songs they've learned.  They make it possible for my boys to sit in their classrooms so they can learn, because without these specialties rambunctious little boys couldn't make it through the whole day of school.
I'm so grateful for them. 

I'm grateful for my students when I taught.  In my mind they will always be my kids.  The kids in my student teaching classrooms, the kids in my own classroom.  They made me a better mom, they made me a better person.  I would have done anything I could have to protect them, and there wasn't a teacher at my school who wouldn't have done the same.  
I'm grateful they let me be their teacher. 

Somewhere our country got our priorities mixed up.  We decided that you had to work with important people, in a big city, make lots of money and be really impressive to be successful.  Don't even get my started on the fact that we pay singers, dancers, politicians and people who literally play games, or play pretend for a living more than we pay policemen, firemen, teachers, farmers and doctors (you'd think safety, education, food & health would be valued).  

Nothing makes up for those children being taken. The good they would have been in the world, the emptiness in those families homes.  I hate the phrase "at least some good will come of this."  Not enough good will come from this to ever justify the loss of those beautiful kids.  But I hope that they will be remembered and that our country will realize in a small part how backwards we've got our priorities and want to change.  That we'll realize what is important.  I love hearing the service that is coming out of this and the quotes around the internet (who knows if they're true) about looking for the helpers whenever there is a tragedy.  I love to think of it that way.  No matter what bad things happen there will always be people trying to help and to do good.  I will never forget that.  

I will never forget Friday. 


  1. I tried talking to Keyton about things too. I don't think he quite understood the seriousness of it. I just kept crying and crying and telling him that if anything ever happened at school to hide. hide really well. get down and make yourself as small as you can. And I agree, only truly amazing people can be teachers. I'm not one of those people, so I completely admire those who are.

  2. This was beautiful! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings.