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A New School

Posted Dec 20 2012 2:38pm

I walked Lucy to school this morning. We walked side by side, her cold little hand in mine — she refuses gloves — and the dog’s leash in my other hand. Lucy noticed that when Ruthie squatted to pee, steam came off the ground. She is a typical first grader, observing, remarking, reporting. She said “Mommy, did you hear there’s a new school coming to town?” I have not.  ”All the classes at our school are making snow flakes to help decorate it, “ she continued excitedly.

I fell silent. See, we haven’t told Lucy about Sandy Hook. I haven’t written about it because what can I say that has not been said? That those families were plunged into the most horrible pain and agony a person can ever experience, and that they will feel it to varying degrees for the rest of their lives? That it makes no sense? I have my opinions on gun control and mental health services, but I feel like blabbing about it here serves no purpose. I feel guilty talking about the effect of the tragedy on me, because the truth is on Friday I got home from work and rocked Lucy like a baby when she got out of the bath tub, blow-dried her beautiful hair, then read a book to both my girls, warm, cozy, and safe on the couch. Whatever trauma the murders stirred up in me, it is not worthy of discussion when there are so many funerals going on, all week. Little boys and girls who could easily be Lucy’s classmates. Children who should be walking to school with their mom or dad, and their dog.

Last weekend, Zev and I discussed whether to say anything to her. Lucy is a sensitive soul. She is perceptive about others’ pain, and internalizes a lot of anxiety. She asks questions about death, specifically about children dying. She wants to know exactly how Leah died, because she was only a little baby, not an old person. She asks if it’s possible to live with one kidney. With half a kidney. With kidneys that work only sometimes.

We decided there was no reason to shake her foundations by telling that something  monstrous and scary happened to little children like her, in a first-grade classroom like hers. I was scared that a classmate would say something, maybe it should come from us. Zev wisely said that she faces risk every time she is in a car. We do not tell her every time a child gets hurt in a car accident, why not shelter her from this, too? His argument convinced me.

This morning was the first inkling that the bubble we built around her is not completely impenetrable. Lucy still has no idea why those kids are getting a new school, but her snowflake will be one of many to welcome them.

“That’s very nice of your school to do that, Lucy. I hope it makes the children happy in the new school ,” I said.


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