What I’m Afraid Of

I’m hearing stories from friends that children at some schools in Little Rock are reporting “drills” where they practice getting in their cubbies behind backpacks and coats to be very still for three minutes. They are told they will do this “in case a bad man with a gun comes to the school to shoot people.” These children are five.

I suppose there is a desire to do *something* in the wake of last week’s horrific school shooting in Connecticut. I have serious questions about the appropriateness of this plan. To my knowledge, no such drills have gone on at my son’s school. I’m pretty sure I would not be the only parent appalled by such a thing.

I am hopeful that in coming weeks we will see legislation about guns. I am fully aware there is no way to make enough laws to keep murder out people’s hearts. We can, however, make it harder for someone to kill dozens of people in mere minutes. Do not tell me I don’t understand a gun culture. I was raised in an arsenal. I’m from the South. My father is a retired Colonel. I understand responsible gun ownership. There is no argument you can make for a fully automatic weapon that isn’t absurd in the face of 20 dead kindergarteners. Sell crazy some place else.

While on some level I’m scared something like Sandy Hook could happen at my son’s school because it could happen anywhere, that’s not my biggest fear. The chances of a stranger with a gun shooting up my kid’s school remain relatively low. What I’m afraid of is the “good guys” who actually aren’t so good. I’m scared to death of the teacher, choir director, coach, friend of the family or countless other people who I let into my son’s life. I’m afraid because there is a statistically significant chance one of these people will hurt him.

In the past few years, it has come to light that people I trusted as a child or young adult were, in fact, not trustworthy. Some of them harmed children. I never knew. I didn’t even suspect. It has caused me to question how reliable my smeller is about these things. Several friends have shared with me stories of abuse at the hands of relatives or trusted adults in their lives. My friends carry deep wounds, most of which are not healed.

I believe we’re doing the proper things to prevent something horrible. Because of various job assignments in my life, I’ve taken seminars on what to watch for. I know predators look for vulnerable kids. I try to be sure my kid never looks like easy pickings. We don’t let him spend inappropriate lengths of time alone with adults. I still don’t let him go to the men’s room in public alone. But I’m not sure how much longer that’s going to last. At some point, it’s even weirder for him to be in the ladies’ room with me. I keep my guard up. I trust my gut. But there are no guarantees about these things.

The truth is, I want the only danger to my family to be some unknown man with a gun. I want scary people to out there somewhere. I don’t want them anywhere near my family. I want to believe that I could never be fooled a con artist or let a credible threat near me or my child. That would be foolish thinking on my part. It would be even more foolish than hiding behind my coat and being very quiet for three minutes waiting for the danger to pass.



Filed under The view from here

4 responses to “What I’m Afraid Of

  1. My mom told me that with the birth of your child comes a lifelong “gift” of worry. I’m sorry you/we must grapple with this. Love you, friend. Thank you for sharing so openly.

  2. ronnie

    Thanks for expressing what is on so many minds.

  3. This reminds me of children hiding under their desks afraid of the A-bomb. Each generation has their irrational dealings with an unimaginable fear. I hate that this generation’s fear is so close to home.