I’m tired of repeating myself. Tired to the bone.
I was going to write this post about raising my son to be a gentleman in the wake of the Stanford University rape scandal. I was going to write about teaching respect. Yeah, mostly it was about respect.
But since then, the shootings in Orlando happened. Then Minneapolis. And then Dallas.
I try not to watch the news with the kids in the room. It’s a helicopter parent move, I know. But on the day of the Orlando shootings, I was watching with my son in the room. I couldn’t turn it off and I also didn’t think he was paying attention. But then he started asking questions: What happened? Why did he hurt those people? Did they die? Did he shoot them?
I am exhausted from these questions. They’re being asked way too often and by children way too young. And I’m running out of answers. Or I’m not. I’m just repeating the same thing over and over and over. “A bad guy hurt a bunch of people. I’m sorry, Buddy, but I don’t know why. No one does. Yes, some people died because the bad guy shot them with a gun.”
I imagine the worst thing in the world to a parent isn’t to hear your child was in a mass shooting, but rather your child perpetrated a mass shooting. It’s happening to too many parents.
For now, I’m trying to use these horrible events as teaching moments when the kids get wind of them. Judge me if you like, but I don’t let my kids play guns. In my mind, given the world today, it’s distasteful and unnecessary. Also, it seems hypocritical: teach them to be kind, but condone play violence. It’s just not for me. However one of my kids is trying very hard to do it anyway, so recently I was able to help him understand better that guns aren’t toys and they actually hurt people. Seeing the news that day helped it sink in.
I’m furious that this is the world my kids will grow up in — this is the legacy we’re leaving them. Where evil minds plot the best way to reap the most casualties all playing out live on TV.
The best I can do now is to make sure my kids don’t become them. I need to lead by example and show kindness, generosity and compassion, or at the very least common courtesy. To everyone. I will explain that yes, that person looks different from you and because of that difference, they may have experiences that are different from yours. Different is fine. It’s good. It’s necessary. Learn from them. Ask your questions respectfully. Don’t assume.
This post was supposed to be about raising a gentleman. Just that quick it turned into something more. Enough. We’re all tired.
– Rebecca Calappi is a Publications Coordinator at Beaumont Health and adoptive parent of multiples.