The Skunk Outside

Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 1.12.11 PM.png

I was volunteering in my daughter's preschool class the other day and they had a lock down drill. I don't know if you have ever been in a lock down drill or if you know what one is. Basically a lock down drill is when you practice what you would do if there was an intruder, a shooter, or some sort of criminal act. The drill is to go to a safe room and lock all doors and shut the windows tight as you darken the room. I didn't have these drills when I was a child in the 1980's. In Arkansas we had tornado drills and I am suspect that the folder I had to put over my head really would be helpful, but I digress.

We actually had to leave my daughter's classroom, because there are too many windows. The children are targets in this room. So as I walked into the dark room with my daughter and her class and one of the teachers in the "safe" room helped explain why we were there. She quieted her voice and told us to be silent...we didn't want the skunk outside to hear us. She gently told the children that there was a stinky skunk trying to get in and we didn't want him to know where we were so we had to be still and quiet. Some kids laughed, some kids cried, but mostly they were so very quiet. 

These are preschoolers.

A couple of days later there was another school shooting. Another one.

High school students and brave teachers and coaches are gone. They are dead. They went to school on VALENTINE'S DAY and were killed. 

There are no words...just action. I am amazed by the survivors who refuse to be quiet. They are children.  The survivors who will not back down about talking about change...it is not too soon for them...it is indeed too late. These survivors are already talking about gun control. These children are doing things that adults have been too afraid to do...these children have been victims of gun violence (this week mind you) and are currently undergoing a crazy traumatic event and they are already mobilizing and taking action. God bless them. 

No one should have guns that can kill that many people so quickly. No one. Yes, we do need gun control. And yes, we do need to focus on the heroes not the people who do these things. And yes, we do need to provide mental care for people who need it. And yes, we do need to build community. 

Personally, I have connected with my local chapter of Moms Demand Action. You don't need to be a mom to join the group and they don't want to take away your guns. They want common sense gun control. Sign me up! 

And for me, one of the most important things is for me to build community where ever I go. We are connected 24/7 and yet we don't have real connections in our neighborhoods or in our communities.

Honestly, I am just doing my damnedest to be more like Mr. Rogers every day. He had it right...he showed us why we should love our neighborhoods and how we are interconnected, he taught us to love one another, and he taught us that we were valuable...that we all had something to add to our community.  

Knowing that we can be loved exactly as we are gives us all the best opportunity for growing into the healthiest of people.
— Mr. Fred Rogers

So we have some radical love to share and some major changes in our current legislation that need to happen. Oh, and a bunch of other work. But we have to make a change. We can't send our babies to get an education and have them fear for their lives. And we have learned there is no place safe...not concerts, not malls, not churches, and not at schools. There are too many skunks getting away with too many horrible things. We have to make a change.

Love one another...you know, the really hard ones to love...them too. 

PHOTOGRAPH BY JOEL SARTORE, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

PHOTOGRAPH BY JOEL SARTORE, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Oh, and I actaully love skunks...they are just serving as a metaphor today. 

Detour

detour.gif

So there was no Fall Craft on Tuesday. I just couldn't. 

Monday morning we woke up to the news that 58 people were dead and 489 more were injured in a shooting in Las Vegas. 

Later in the day we found out that our beloved Tom Petty died. 

A Fall Craft seemed trite after all of that. 

Monday morning my son woke up to the radio that told the story of what happened in Las Vegas. My nine year old then gave me the details. I just cried. I cried because over 500 peoples lives will never be the same. I cried because I can't protect my son from knowing about the evils of the world. I cried because this is not okay. 

What kind of world is this? We are numb to the stories. It seems like each mass shooting is the "worst in US history"...the keep happening and they keep getting worse. Well, I guess that is a matter of opinion. It was pretty freaking horrible when children were gunned down at school. But nothing has changed...people worked for change and congress did nothing. 

Look, it doesn't matter if you are a Democrat or a Republican...or neither. It doesn't matter if you are a gun owner or not. I really feel like we should all agree that is not okay and something has to change. 

I have struggled this week trying to find the good because I am mad. I am mad that our government is beyond messed up. I am mad that we are so divisive as a country. I am mad that more and more people have to bury their loved ones because of something so senseless. 

And the truth is, I am mad because I have to ask my children questions like "what do you do if there is an active shooter." And I am devastated that they both said the right answer. You run. 

This is not okay. This is not normal.

And I can mark things with the angry or the sad icon on Facebook, but that changes zero. 

I don't know what makes someone (mainly white men) want to take down as many people as they can before they end their own life. I don't know what would change their minds so this shit doesn't happen over and over and over. 

All I know to do is I have to take action...the most immediate change I can do is the following:

  • Work to make sure my state has good gun laws. I don't want to take away your guns...we are a family of hunters. But it makes sense that we have good gun laws. 
  • Work to elect people who don't cater to the gun lobbies. Period...I don't want the NRA directing our politicians...we didn't vote for them to run our country. 
  • Work to create community...it sounds silly, but  you may not shoot your neighbor, the people in your community, etc if you are connected to those people. 
  • Work to do more good. I can't control the bad in this world. I can't change the fact that my babies know what to do if there is a gun event. What I can control is the good things I expose them to. This world is scary and can be dark. Be the light. Your kids need that from you. 

If you will notice, this all requires us to work. I know we are all busy and tired, but it is important. This is all we have...this one life so we have to do what is right, we have to do what we can to make this place better, and we have to love. 

Speaking of love, I haven't even been able to talk about Tom Petty yet. He was the music of my youth...every stage of my life. He was there when I was a baby, through my parents divorce, through high school, through my indecisive twenties and thirties, he was always singing the song track for my life.  It is one thing my dad and I share...our love for Tom Petty. His songs play through my mind all the time. I will always love him. 

Well, hopefully next week won't be such a bummer and we can do something fun together. Enjoy your Fall weekend. Love your people...and your neighbor. 

To Every Thing

Seasons are such power forces...they usher us through each year.  I believe they help guide us through our own seasons of life. There is a time and place for everything. That includes death.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
— Ecclesiastes 3

Or if you aren't into reading scripture, listen to the Byrds. 

 

Being a parent, your job is walking through all the seasons with your children...even the hard ones.

I don't remember many people dying in my world when I was a kid...I mean I have some memories, but it seemed like it was always really old people (in hindsight they may have not been that old...I was just so young). 

My children have been surrounded by death their Grandfather died when they were little bitty, we have had other deaths in our family, both of our next door neighbors have died within the last few years, and then the countless memorials I have attended/officiated since I worked at an older church. Plus we have lost several animals.

In fact, Little Miss might be an animal murderer. She loves so hard...some times to death. (BTW that could totally be a title of a Lifetime movie). Little Miss has been collecting worms, slugs, and snails and making them be her pet. This 100% is a death sentence. Below is a picture of a snail she collected on a recent camping trip. She even made an awesome terrarium for the snail. Then on the way home she crushed the snail...to death. We arrived at my mom's house and she buried the snail. Later that evening she went back to Nana's and unburied the snail. She brought the dead snail home in the terrarium the next day with a dollar bill on it because the dead snail LOVES money. That kid is a trip.  

Big spender snail.

Big spender snail.

A lot of families with children may not have the experience with talking to their kids about death. 

We had a friend who lost an animal and they asked me how we talked to our children about losing animals (we have had a few cats who didn't make it in our neighborhood). I told her we just tell them what happened...a basic summary, but for the most part we just tell them the truth. She couldn't understand that...she didn't think her children were ready to hear the truth.

I get it, my husband and I shelter our kiddos from so much. They have zero idea about current affairs or even horrible parts of history. It isn't because we want them to be dummies...we want to shelter them and let them keep their innocence as long as they can. We can't do it forever, but we can do it right now. But one thing we don't hide or fudge the truth about is if someone died. 

The Dougy Center has a list on how to help a grieving child. The Dougy Center "provides support in a safe place where children, teens, young adults, and their families grieving a death can share their experiences." The Dougy Center is located in Oregon, but they have a great comprehensive website with several tools about grieving and children. 

Here are some things that we have found that worked for us. 

  • Use the right words. Don't say that people or animals "have gone to sleep," "gone to the farm," etc. You have to say that they died. They need to hear that. There should be no confusion. 
  • Be honest. You don't need to give every crazy detail, but be honest (as much as possible).
  • Talk about the person who died. Keep the person alive with your family by sharing stories and memories. 
  • Be ready to talk about this at any time. Kids are going to ask you questions at different times and for different reasons. When they talk to you...give them a space to share. It is important. 
  • Be kind to yourself. You might not know what to say or do. That is okay...just be genuine and loving. 

Parenting can be rough, but you have got this. Seize the dang day! See you on Friday!