As a kid, I can remember this time when everything I’d heard about nuclear war sort of coalesced into this one awful thought: it could happen at any time. We learned about duck and cover in school, and the take-home message for me at the time was that an attack could come with absolutely no warning.

Of course, it never did, and schools have mostly gone on to prepare for other disasters. Like, for instance, a mentally unstable person stalking the hallways with the intent of hurting children.

I’m thinking ahead to talking to Riley about what happened in Connecticut this morning, and feeling heavy about his world where kids have to worry about the reality — not the vague theoretical possibility, but the reality — of gunmen stepping into their classrooms to open fire, and god damn, aren’t we just a screwed-up species sometimes.

Thinking of you, too, my Internet friends, and your families, and the families and children in Newtown. What a terrible day.


23 Responses to “No warning”

  1. Shawna on December 14th, 2012 1:25 pm

    I had to turn the tv off. I couldn’t watch anymore. My heart breaks for all of those poor innocent children and their families. HOW does someone get it in their sick mind that they are going to go into a room full of little helpless children and just start shooting? The terror they felt. I’m going home and giving my 2 1/2 yr old the biggest hug.

  2. JennB on December 14th, 2012 1:26 pm

    Love your children. Give them an extra hug tonight and be grateful that this time it is not you getting that horrible, terrible news. I hugged my daughter so long and so hard at pick-up that she asked me what was wrong…..

    I do not understand that mentality. Why children??????

  3. Amy M. on December 14th, 2012 1:27 pm

    I’m tearing up at work over these news reports. Learning that many of the victims were in kindergarten makes me especially ill. Hugging my kids extra tightly today!

  4. esw on December 14th, 2012 1:34 pm

    It seems too that discussion about dealing with bad feelings is in order too. When society stops treating depression, and other mental illness, as a personal shortcoming, and we give mental health the same respect that we give heart disease or cancer, then perhaps we can make school/workplace lockdown practice a thing of the past too. Healthy people don’t just shoot people for fun. Heartbroken for all those affected by this event.

  5. Carmen on December 14th, 2012 1:38 pm

    A terrible day indeed. I am just sick, thinking of this happening at my kids’ school. Or ANY kid’s school. Jeez.

  6. Sheryl on December 14th, 2012 1:38 pm

    I am just heartbroken. When I get home from work tonight, there will be five 15/16 year old girls sitting around my living room, only one of which is mine. Every single one of them is getting huge hugs and kisses from this mama, whether they like it or not.

  7. Aunt Linda on December 14th, 2012 1:43 pm

    Hug the boys for us.

  8. Emily on December 14th, 2012 1:46 pm

    My 7 year old son is such a worrier, I don’t know how or if I should talk about it with him.

    And my daughter is in kindergarten so I keep thinking of her and what if it were her class? And then I start crying all over.

    I live about 30 miles from there and work with people who live there. Thankfully none of them have children at that school. It’s such a quiet pretty town. Just horrifying.

  9. Jane K. on December 14th, 2012 1:47 pm

    Two of my kids are in high school and how sad is it that I have to tell them that if they ever hear gunshots to run, run, RUN. Praying for those parents and families today who will get the worst news possible … praying for those babies.

  10. melaniek on December 14th, 2012 1:47 pm

    I am so sick, and wishing my kids were home from school. My heart breaks for the community of Newtown. When are we going to acknowledge that mental illness is one of our BIGGEST threats! I believe that there were warning signs, I am sure he made people nervous or uncomfortable but we do not know what or how to help. Until we do a better job of identifying, treating and reporting our suspicions, I think it keeps happening.

  11. pdxhadey on December 14th, 2012 2:05 pm

    I have been sitting in my office at work crying all day. All I can think about is “what if that would have been my kid’s school,” and the tears spring forth from my eyes. And so soon after the god awful shooting at Clackamas Town Center too. My initial reaction was “I can’t imagine what the family and friends of those who were killed are going through,” but the unfortunate fact of the matter is, I CAN. I know EXACTLY what they’re going through. A dear friend of mine was shot and killed in August, and it is awful, and horrifying, and so goddamn incomprehensible. There is never a sufficient explanation for why it happened. You are just left to think about the fact that they’re gone, and you can’t bring them back, and it’s so fucking unfair. My hearts go out to all those who have lost a loved one in such a horrific, unthinkinkable fashion.

  12. Donna on December 14th, 2012 2:20 pm

    My daughter has watched all of this going on all morning, and has made herself sick with crying….all the while her 10 month old just popped out her first tooth, her five year old is getting playdoh in the carpet, her 9 year old, 15 year old and 17 year old are all in school in a town that is very much like the one where this happened. I cannot even imagine what those families are going through. Unbelievable.

  13. Julia on December 14th, 2012 2:40 pm

    This is pertinent. Mr. Rogers on helping kids deal with tragic news events:

  14. Jenny on December 14th, 2012 2:45 pm

    I am not sure how I will explain it to my 5 year old either.

    Just last week I volunteered in his class and they happened to have a “Code Red” drill where a bad person entered the school and they all had to get in the closet, lock the door and not say a word.

    It is so sad that they have to learn this stuff at an early age but after today, I am REALLY glad they teach them what to do.

  15. JMH on December 14th, 2012 2:48 pm

    As a mom and an elementary school teacher, I cannot wrap my brain around this event. (I also can’t stop crying…probably a good thing that I didn’t know about it until late in the day). I keep thinking that the school and community is *very* similar to where I work/live. We have mandatory “lockdown” drills throughout the year, yet I never really expect anything bad to happen to us. I wonder if I can ever really feel that my family and I are safe again. I will pray and pray and pray for that community and their future.

  16. tracy @mamacreates on December 14th, 2012 3:41 pm


    Where I live, Juneau, there is little fear (perhaps naively?) of things like this happening; events that are so horrific, and without reason. And I guess I should qualify that to say that “these” things do happen here, because I sat on a jury for a murder trial a few years back. The shooter didn’t know the man, had no reason to shoot the man; he was just straigh-up crazy. I can’t even tell you how strange & unsettling it was hearing the word “murder” over & over & over again for that week of testimony. It’s one of those strange realizations that you never think about until it happens.

    When I saw the “portland area mall shooting” in my news feed last week, my first thought was, No way is it the Town Center….a mall 15 minutes from my grandparent’s house & where my mom grew up; a mall that I have spent literally hundreds of hours shopping at in my lifetime, a mall where, when left alone there for the first time as a young-ish teenager, I was warned by my Aunt Cindy to “be careful of strange men!”, and where I scoffed at the thought of ever being abducted.

    This was of course long before the days of mall shootings, and school shootings, and buildings getting bombed. Or maybe they did, and I was just too young to be aware of their occurrence, as is often the case when one grows up in a sheltered community such as mine.

    After reading that it was the Town Center, my initial reaction of “OHMYGOD, NOWAY” gave way to, “OHMYGOD, this is so random, that out of all the years {approx 30…) I’ve shopped there, it could easily have happened when I was there….”. This was the first time I’ve had a personal connection to something so unthinkable, and even though it was shocking, and scary, part of me was still in denial that it would ever happen to ME.

    But to think of elementary school shootings, with my daughter – my baby – so innocent, and (presumably) safe in her little co-op preschool….there are no words. All we want is to keep our babies safe….to protect them with everything we have. And knowing that no matter what we do, how hard we try, or how hard we love, there are no guarantees. There are parents who will, who have, and who are today, experiencing the worst kind of pain imaginable. And for as much as I’m grateful that I was able to leave my daughter at preschool this morning feeling confident I will see her gorgeous face this evening when I pick her up from my dad & step-mom’s house, my heart aches for those who can’t say the same.

  17. NancyJ on December 14th, 2012 4:44 pm

    I’m in Connecticut (about 45 minutes from Newtown) but my husband and I were in NYC overnight. Now that we’re home watching TV and reading about it I can’t help to think that there is NOTHING – NOTHING in my life that will ever be as bad as this day for the people of Newtown. NOTHING.
    I worked for 5 years as a library aide in K-5 and then for 3 years in a K-5 and all I can see if the faces of my little charges through the years and how much I loved them and they were so open and innocent and excited about life.
    When my 22 year old son came home after we did, I gave him a big hug and cried.

  18. Gigi on December 14th, 2012 5:37 pm

    I had to go to the bathroom to cry today at work. My heart is broken for those families.

  19. H on December 14th, 2012 7:16 pm

    I don’t know…what the hell. It seems like we (we? everyone?) keep hearing those affected by these terrible tragedies say that these things happen elsewhere – not THERE. And, I don’t know, it…it is baffling…because HERE is also where these things don’t happen. Right? Here. Of course it isn’t here, it isn’t us, and even though we feel so sick and devastated about it, we have no idea how to help, what to do, what this means.

  20. Hannah on December 16th, 2012 8:26 pm

    I cannot even fathom what these families are dealing with right now. How do you explain this to siblings? How do you move forward without your child? How do people even go on??

  21. Annika on December 17th, 2012 8:48 am

    Hug your babies extra tight. I’m having a really hard time deciding what my 5 and 8 year old need to know about this. I’ve decided to shut them off from the news. I want their precious, inoocent minds to go to school with the same carefree attitude they have always had. I just can’t bear to tarnish their lives right now. What are other moms doing?

  22. Marci on December 17th, 2012 12:24 pm

    It may be a little late for this, but psychologists recommend that those under 7 do not need to know of this. We kept the news off all weekend.

  23. Cheri on December 17th, 2012 7:51 pm

    We’re about the same age and I had a horrific fear (still have nightmares about nuclear bombs at 39) of nuclear war as well…. a lot of stuff I’ve been reading says talk to your kids about last week’s tragedy if they ask, if they do not – don’t bring it up. Not sure I agree. We live in a reality that, while it sucks, our kids need to be taught to be aware and of signs and what to do if “x” happens. We want them to stay innocent and fearless and…clueless of the evils of this world as long as we possibly can, but…. I just don’t know. I can see both sides completely. Luckily mine is 15 and it was very easy discussing this subject with her. She is actually a virtual school sophmore this year after her first 9 year in public schools, with student who bullied her so bad, she suffered in ways we STILL don’t know and kept most of what was happening to herself. When found out the bits & pieces we could get out of her, we went immediately to the school & nothing was done. Next time – same thing. Next time – kids were “disciplined” which resulted in bullying getting worse because she turned them in finally with viable proof.

    Long story short, we decided to try virtual school this year, and she is 100x happier and is receiving same curriculum as she would if she were in the public school in our area, is a straight A student for the most part (always has been – one of the reasons she was bullied to begin with….and has just been overall an amazing experience. The amount of stress she was experiencing at the hands of some pretty horrific kids is GONE. And, as horrible as Friday’s events were, between these types of dangers and the self-esteem long term affects of what bullying is doing got our children – I’ve never felt more justified to try this “alternate” method of schooling.

    Just my 2 cents.

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