Tuesday, February 23, 2010


My children are home, safe, and dinner is in the oven. We receive an automated phone call from our school district. My oldest answers. And her eyes grow larger, her hand flies to her mouth and she says, “Oh, no.”

A local school has been the scene of a shooting.

Within seconds, I decide that I’ll home school my children, that I will take them out of their extracurricular activities, that we will move to the mountains and live like the Ingalls.

My child misunderstands the name of the school and we frantically call friends who attend the one she thought had been attacked. No, they’re fine. It was a different school. I start to cry and hug my child and think about how precarious a grasp we have on life.

The shooter was a man in his 20’s. The victims were a 7th grader and an 8th grader. He stood outside the door of the school and shot at about the time the children were leaving.

And I hate. For all I try to think “look at the pain of the aggressor” all I can see is the fear of the children. Why children? Shoot me, you homicidal maniac. If you need to find a victim, try me on for size. I’m not so big. I’m not so strong. And I don’t carry any weapons, either. So come after me, but leave the babies alone.

Maybe they won’t die. Maybe they’ll recover from the gunshot wounds. And children are resilient (I repeat to myself over and over again). They’ll have some therapy, they’ll have lots of hugs and kisses and lots and lots of tears and they’ll grow up to be adults who are deeper and stronger. Maybe.

Maybe they’ll never get over it. Maybe they’ll see him in their nightmares for the rest of their lives. Maybe whenever a door bangs shut they’ll fall to the ground in fear. Maybe, even if they seem to overcome it, they’ll carry the weight of this experience forever.

I’m glad it isn’t my school. I’m sorry it’s someone else’s school. I’m glad my children are home tonight. I’m sorry that someone’s child is in the hospital. And I wish, oh, I wish, that the shooter had died before he ever got the chance to pull his gun.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Good Night John Boy

Remember how, on the Waltons, John-boy would use his moral superiority to control the behavior of everyone else? For instance, he’d say, “Sue Ellen, that dress makes you look like a New York Ho.” And there would be tears and she would apologize and then at the end of the day he’d write in his journal to document the fact that, once again, he’d saved someone from certain hell-fire. Well, lucky me, I’ve got my own John-boy.

Normally, I have very little contact with him. We work in completely separate areas at church and the little bit of talking we have to do usually lasts just long enough that I’m able to control myself. I can usually hold out until I walk away and then I’m free to roll my eyes, stick out my tongue, curse, etc. But last night, I had to have an interaction wherein I received personal counsel over the phone from my John-boy. His criticism happily dealt with my personality. And, being the humble, malleable person that I am, I immediately became enraged. I repeated to myself, “Deep breath, don’t engage, just thank him for doing the task and hang up the phone so you can unload to Hal.”

Here’s what Hal got last night: “Stupid ‘I’m so smart and I’ll take this moment to teach you’ man!”

Here’s what Hal got this morning: “Alright, I’ve worked it out. I know what I’m going to say to John-boy. I’m ready for a fight.”

Hal responds, “What you need to do is put your arm around him and say, ‘You’re a good man.’”

“Can I punch him first?”

“Ha ha ha.” (Clearly, Hal has no idea when I’m serious.)

“Just a little ‘don’t lecture me on my methods you dope?’”


Pause. “Hm. Can I tack “anyway” on the end of the sentence?”

Hal didn’t think so.

So, in my own moment of moral superiority, I’m not going to say anything to him (unless he really ticks me off today). Instead, I’m going to blog about him and publish my thoughts on this oh-so-private forum. Feel free to applaud me.