Brave or Crazy

People who’ve never spent time in the central city sometimes say I’m brave or crazy working where I do—it’s “so dangerous” I’m told. I’ve known students expelled for bringing weapons to school, handguns secreted in their pockets or backpacks. I’ve broken up fights, though no more–I’m getting too old to think I can intervene in that physical business. I’ve been called vile names by students who refuse therapy or straight up walk out of my classroom. I’ve been named in a lawsuit in federal court by an irate parent (currently awaiting trial for sex crimes, that guy–oh, karma, how I love you, though I sure hate that a young man’s life was impacted), and parents have screamed in my face, demanding my license.

But those are not my everyday experiences.

Neither are school shootings everyday experiences. But wait. The New York Times reported today that Since Sandy Hook in 2012, there have been 239 school shootings nationwide. 438 people have been shot, and 138 of those shot were killed. At school. OK, so not every day. . .

You know what’s brave in 2018? Sending your children to school on a random Wednesday. Just ask any one of the parents in Parkland, Florida. You know what’s crazy? Thinking that school violence is a phenomenon limited to institutions in the “inner city” and that it could never happen to your child. You know what’s dangerous? Assault rifles.

No parent should ever have to fear for their sons and daughters when they kiss them goodbye in the morning.

Holy crap, for the first time in over a year, I’m in agreement with words coming from the highest office in the land, twenty of them anyway.

But what’s going to be done about it? I mean, besides continuing to “send out thoughts and prayers” obviously.

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Road Rage

A parent never wants to learn that two cars were shooting it up as they raced/raged past your children’s school playground via social media.

Before you chide me with the inevitable “See, I told ya! I still can’t/never did/never will understand how you send your children to a city public school and/or remain a city of Milwaukee resident when it’s the fourth poorest city in the nation” call to action: no one was hurt.

My #2 heard the gunshots from the science room, but #1 didn’t hear anything from his classroom. Curiously enough, there was no mention of the shots fired made from either of my sons. Had I not asked Saturday morning, I don’t believe either child would’ve said anything, except perhaps in afterthought. My husband spent a few minutes studying the exterior of our Lannon stone home, looking for evidence of bullet strikes yesterday, and came up empty. We joked that the miscreants behind the wheels and triggers must’ve been expert marksmen–according to social media, MPD reported no artifacts had been found. One neighbor posted the 11:44 AM audio from his garage-mounted security camera; fourteen cracks unmistakable in their clarity. They had to have hit something. Themselves? Their cars?

No one at school was injured, the loss of innocence maybe the only casualty. I don’t even know what to do with the fact that gunshots heard in school didn’t even warrant a casual mention from either of my sons.  They both were outside hanging out yesterday, because when the temps hit upper 40s in January, you go outside!  I didn’t go into full freak out mode, and I don’t know what to do with the fact that I’m not freaked out enough.

If social media is to be trusted, it wasn’t a targeted school shooting, apparently a road rage incident gone local, and thank stars the kids had just come in from recess. Saying “well, it wasn’t a school shooting” is not to excuse or minimize ANY VIOLENT act, nope, but to illustrate that gun-wielding idiots with sub-average executive functioning skills permeate our society, “safe” neighborhoods and less safe ones alike. But no one cares, because no one will admit that this shameful, inexcusable behavior could happen LITERALLY in their backyard–it’s always in “those” neighborhoods among “those” people. And apparently we need our own personal arsenals to keep ourselves safe from “them.”  Well, it happened in my neighborhood, on my street.

I grew up with guns in the house; my parents and younger brother all hunters.  My ex-husband owned two handguns (which his mother ordered him to store at her house for awhile after I announced I was leaving him), yet for all the time I’ve spent with firearms in my houses, I’ve never touched a gun.  I don’t understand the allure. I do understand that while we say “guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” people are less likely kill someone with their fists than with a handgun or semi-automatic.

But this isn’t a blog about weaponry.  It’s a blog about being a parent whose kid has a shit disease.  A disease that renders him slow and clumsy and an easy target.  He got lucky this time; they all did.

I started another assignment at a new school Monday. This is one of the windows in my new classroom, the one right behind my head when I’m sitting at my desk–and yes, it’s in one of “those” neighborhoods, so it’s OK, right? And sure, it’s only probably BB pellets, so whatevs, “those” people don’t mind or don’t deserve safe environs.

I sent this photo to a group of my friends, and one of the girls responded by telling me that before her office moved, she found a gun alongside a stash of cocaine in the bushes outside her workplace.   It’s not just here, and it’s not just now.  I didn’t understand it then, nor do I now, and I sure as heck have no solutions to replace violence on this earth with peace in its stead.  My little mantra, be kinder than is necessary, seems to fall short and on deaf ears.  But still, do that: be kinder than is necessary, that is.  It’s a start anyway.