Thursday, December 20, 2012

I have no idea how to do this. It is NOTHING like riding a bicycle.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Running scared?

Earlier this week, the 4j school district issued a statement about rumors of threats to student safety this Friday amidst the atmosphere of the 12/21 end of the world and Newtown, CT mass shooting. In response, I have seen many parents (actually pretty much all who have posted about it) indicate their intention to keep their kids out of school Friday. I have been thinking about my reaction most of the night.

There was a similar threat two years ago at Sheldon. At the time, there were two parents in our household and I didn't have to be strong. I insisted the kids, including our exchange student, stay home. The kids, while grateful for a day off, were sure I was over reacting. Chuck was fairly quiet about it. I was beyond relief when a snow day took the decision out of our hands.

It’s different for me this year. The threat is non-specific; I have seen no mention of either one of my children’s schools. This seems more to be a very natural reaction to very frightening news coverage and social media’s non-stop obsession over recent events. How I wish they would leave those poor families who just lost their children alone.

I fully support any parent’s decision to take whatever actions they may deem necessary to protect their child. I also sympathize with the feeling that any risk is not worth the benefit of one day’s education. But I have experienced significant tragedy in my life. As a result I constantly have to fight the urge to smother my children with over protective helicopter-parenting. If I were to keep them home each time I was afraid something dangerous might happen to them, they would never go anywhere. I am hoping to raise courageous children, and don't think I will do that by modeling fear.

Doing the math (with borrowed statistics from the Youth Violence Project) – there is something like a .0000781 chance there will be a violent crime at one of their schools. They are infinitely more likely to be in a vehicle accident. I let them ride in cars every day. They are more likely, even, to be hit by lightning at some point in their lifetime, and this is not a fear that consumes me or causes me to pull them from their activities.

I know many teachers. I cherish them. They do so much with so little. They are helping me raise smart, capable, independent people that can do calculus, speak Spanish, read Shakespeare, talk about how car batteries get recharged and play CCR's "Down On The Corner" on the electric bass. I’m confident because of this my two children will have something to contribute to their world. Even though I am sure those teachers are worried too, I haven’t heard even one mention the possibility of not going to work on Friday.

It feels like a victory for the bad guys if we have to hide out in our homes (another place where children are statistically more likely to be the victim of a violent crime).

If they hear of any specific threats, or even vague rumors we will report them. And I won’t force my kids to go anywhere if they are genuinely afraid. But with the information I have now, if they are willing, they are going to school.