Before I had children of my own, I had a pretty short list of things I’d swear I’d never, ever do. I was thirty before I had kids and had watched my friends venture through motherhood before me, so I wasn’t naive enough to believe that I would never drag a screaming kid out to the car in public or find myself turning on the TV for thirty minutes so I can get some peace and quiet.
But the one thing I said I would NEVER do is homeschool my children.
Don’t get me wrong; I don’t believe homeschooling is a bad decision. It’s just that I am a product of public school. My grandfather was a teacher and principal for 35 years, and he taught with my grandmother for 32 years. My dad was an English teacher for 38+ years at the high school I attended and maybe I’m a minority in this, but I actually really loved high school.
I never thought there would be an option outside of public school for my kids. But never say never. The second it was suggested that we should arm public school teachers is the second I decided to reconsider.
Yesterday, my five-year-old twins came home from preschool, and my daughter seemed especially tired. When I asked her why she was so tired she informed me she had been woken from her nap in order to pretend there was a bad guy in the school and to practice what to do. She must have read my face because she assured me more then once saying, “It’s ok mom. It was just practice.” I was stunned. I wasn’t upset that the school had done this; I was struck upon realizing that these drills are happening now, even before they are in kindergarten. I thought I had more time.
We’ve been talking about kindergarten in our house a lot lately. The twins have decided they want to be in different classes and they can’t wait to pick out backpacks and lunch boxes. Their readiness for this new adventure makes me a little less nervous.
But then there are guns and everything changes.
We could argue until we are blue in the face about whether guns are the answer. We all have reasons for what we believe, no doubt. But do we really believe MORE guns are the answer? I have two hearts walking around outside of my body and if you can’t promise me you aren’t putting them in more danger when you hand a teacher a gun, then I can’t let them walk around your school.
Can you promise there won’t be an accidental misfire? Can you promise there won’t be a premature reaction to something? Can you promise the gun won’t get dropped? Can you promise it won’t fall in the wrong hands? There is no one on this earth who could tell me with 100% certainty that there is a “yes” at the end of all of these questions.
Can teachers really teach our kids how to read, to add and subtract, make sure they’ve eaten, keep an eye on who is being bullied, make sure each kid feels safe at home AND carry a firearm? I don’t care who you are, that is too much to ask of any one person. I could not put my kids in that kind of danger or that kind of environment. Every day since the Parkland shootings I’ve held my kids like I’ll never get to hold them again. Because what if I don’t? What if I can’t look my kids in the eye and tell them I’m doing everything I can to keep them safe?
Randi Weingarten, head of the American Federation of Teachers said, “Teachers don’t want to be armed. We want to teach. We don’t want to be, and would never have the expertise needed to be sharp shooters; no amount of training can prepare an armed teacher to go up against an AR-15.” No amount of training is all that I need to hear. I listen to these beautiful Parkland survivors eloquently describe what they went through and it brings me to my knees. As a parent, how would you feel receiving a text from your own flesh and blood telling you they were about to die? I don’t want to know. I listen to every word these students say and I believe that guns have done enough — they have no place in the hands of our teachers.
Prior to the Parkland shootings it’s possible I would’ve argued the very opposite of what I’m saying here. No doubt there is risk involved every time you leave your house — or even in your house! I know that we can’t live our lives in fear of the unknown, but I will only take that so far. Increasing the risk that my child could be shot at a place in which they should feel safe is where I draw the line. I can’t let them walk around a building where more bullets have the potential to fly past their little faces than ever before. Or worse.