The instructions read: Connect the dots to see the picture, then draw something you might see in it. He drew a picture of a gun floating in white space, with the word “News” above it. When asked to explain his picture he said, “The news is on TV, and this is a picture of a gun.” As his homeschooling teacher and more importantly his mom, I asked him to elaborate. He went on, “The news is reporting that this gun killed someone.”
(Insert screeching sound of tape rewinding)
When the heart wrenching tragedy occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary, in Newtown, Connecticut I made a decision to shield my children from that news. I don’t watch the news often. I don’t enjoy it and seek my news updates via other channels. I didn’t feel the need to unnecessarily scare my children with the details of a man who took it upon himself, for reasons unknown and that will never be justified, to take the innocent lives of those children in the very place they felt safe and surrounded by people whose job it was to care for them. Since we started homeschooling this year outside the United States, our social interaction is limited. I have no idea where my seven year old son got this idea, nor if it is even related to the same horrific event. We spent the holidays in the states and they had plenty of time with other children and grownups so it is possible that he heard something then. That’s neither here nor there.
When I saw the picture of the gun my son drew, it didn’t faze me. When he made the statement, “this gun killed someone” my heart stopped. I don’t normally discuss politics, religion or other controversial and divisive topics, and I certainly don’t blog about them. Maybe it’s because I don’t feel the need to change others views or maybe it’s because I don’t feel the need to open myself up to others who might want to try and change my views. I don’t know.
What I do know is this. I don’t want my children to grow up believing that a gun is responsible for hurting or killing someone. I don’t want my children to believe that a piece of metal is responsible for taking lives. I want them to understand that a gun is a weapon that can only cause harm if someone takes that gun in their hands and makes the conscious choice to hurt someone with it.
Our lives are a series of choices. Coke or Diet Pepsi, tropical or winter vacation, the red dress or the black dress. Each choice we make sets off a series of other choices down a path whose direction can change in an instant when another choice is made. From childhood we are presented with choices on a daily basis. PB&J or ham and cheese sandwich? Apple juice or milk? Swing or slide? As we grow so do the choices we are presented with in our lives. We must choose to go to college or join the work force. We must choose with which friends we will spend our time, and which of those friends we will choose to share a lifetime. Some choices we know will be life altering the moment we make them such as whether or not to say “I do” or what career path to take. Others appear to be so inconsequential that we often make them without much thought at all, never foreseeing what kind of domino effect that tiny little choice might set off.
We all have at least one friend who prefers to leave things to chance, roll the dice, take a gamble. However, in doing so hasn’t that friend already made a choice? I have heard folks say, “I had no choice” and think to myself that there’s always a choice. If you think someone else has made a choice for you, then you have made the choice to give them that right. We are responsible for the choices we make, no one else. We are responsible for the smallest of choices that can be made in the blink of an eye…sugar or sweet n low? And, we are responsible for the gut wrenching, heart twisting, choices that cause sleepless nights.
I choose to teach my children to understand human beings choose to get their hands on a gun, choose to aim that gun at someone else, and choose to pull the trigger, ultimately choosing to end that life. I choose to emphasize the fact that the gun by itself doesn’t kill. A choice was made.
Regardless of my stance on gun control, as a parent it is my responsibility to help my children understand the importance of their choices and the effects and consequences those choices may have. Those parents who lost their sweet children that fateful December afternoon had no choice because someone took it upon himself to strip them of the opportunity to teach their children about religion, politics, guns, and their right to choose the path of good vs. evil. Those children will never get to make those choices because of someone else’s choice. I know the topic of guns will be controversial to some, but this post isn’t about gun control or the Second Amendment. It is simply about a mother choosing to teach her children about personal responsibility. At the end of the day, I choose to be confident in my choices and let the chips fall where they may. Let the domino effect begin. What do you choose?
Did you choose to discuss the incident at Sandy Hook with your children? If so, how did you handle the role guns and people played in it?