I grew up in a family where there were challenges and it often put me in a spot where I couldn't just be a kid as I often had the weight of adult issues on my shoulders. It shouldn't have happened and it could have been avoided... and as much as I've moved past it, a bit of it is still with me.
So when I decided to have a child I wanted to make sure she had a different experience. I wanted her to FEEL like a kid as long as she was a kid. I wanted her to play and learn and not worry about the things that us adults sometimes have to deal with. I wanted to prepare her for life, but at an appropriate pace... and, I think my husband and I have. Our 8 year old gets to be an 8 year old. She doesn't watch the news, we don't bring conflict into the household - we support her and guide her and have fun with her.
I knew there would be things out of my control, but I didn't know that I would need to worry about things like school shootings. I didn't think that if a mass shooting happened there would be adults who would fight so hard over the way to fix it, and nothing would get fixed and the shootings would continue to happen.
I've never been a fan of guns, but that doesn't mean that I think we should totally ban them. I understand that some people like them and many use them safely, but I'm baffled by why some adults aren't willing to make some changes. I don't understand why some people cling so hard to our right to bear guns over saving the lives of our children. I just don't get it. I do get that this isn't just a gun issue, but it's also not just a mental health issue. We need to stop pointing fingers and take some action.
When the March for our Lives was announced I knew I wanted to show my support and I wanted to include Riley. I want her to know how important it is to speak up. I'll admit, though, I wasn't sure how much I wanted to talk with her about this issue. Again, I want to keep my 8 year old in her 8 year old world. I spoke with other moms and found that we all had the same concerns even if we informed our kids to different levels about the issues going on in the world.
Riley and I talked about the lock downs they have at school. She understands that they are to prepare the kids and staff in case a bad person enters the school. She doesn't really get that the bad person could shoot and kill the kids and she doesn't know that there have been many, many school shootings that have already occurred. She understands that guns kill people and animals and for her that's just not acceptable. Plain and simple.
I debated about bringing Riley to the March of our lives. Would the speakers say things that I didn't want my kid to hear yet? Would there be signs with messages I'm not ready for her to read? And worst of all, would there be a shooter? Every parent I spoke to had this same concern.
Ugh, parenting in this day and age is not what I thought it would be when I envisioned it many years ago.
We went to the March with friends after my husband and I talked about it and after talking with my mom friends. There were things said and signs hoisted with messages that I wasn't sure I wanted my kid to internalize yet. I'll admit she wasn't always listening and I was grateful for the pile of snow that she was engrossed in while one of the speakers talked emotionally about her fear of school shootings. Some of it went over Riley's head, nothing she heard or read seemed to frighten her, and in the end, she asked thoughtful questions about guns and what the NRA stands for.
In the end I want to keep my daughter safe, but I also want her to know that her voice is important. We were all there supporting each other, supporting change, supporting the future of our kids.