When we drove by the kids’ school this morning, there were police cars in the parking lot and the driveway was blocked off. The kids were with Pappa (Grampa) so we didn’t face questions at the time, but I really thought little of it. This is suburbia, after all, and although I generally feel safe walking to work at midnight, there have been a few break ins in the past. Last time kids broke into the school, they stole a case of fundraiser chocolate bars. We figured they were smoking dope on the playground and got the munchies.
Well, it turns out, this was a little more than a break-in. Someone was shot in the head. In the playground behind my kids’ elementary school. He died in the hospital.
Aimee said she heard that someone’s arm got cut and there was blood on the slide. I don’t think she saw anything. They weren’t allowed to go out for recess, which I suppose is understandable. After all, their playground was a crime scene.
Both kids asked a lot of questions. Jack wanted to know what the police were doing at school. I avoided answering him. How do you explain violence and aggression to four and six year olds? These are kids who have rarely, if ever, been spanked. Not that maybe they didn’t deserve it once or twice. But I haven’t wanted to expose them to that sort of example. They haven’t watched Teenege Mutant Ninja Turtles or Spiderman. They have seen every Disney and Pixar movie out there, most of which are little better, but I find often the violence in those is sanitized or presented more abstractly. Maybe not, but it’s how I justify my decision to let them watch that crap.
I think I will call the school tomorrow and encourage the administration to talk to the school-age kids about what happened. It can be watered down and simplified, but I think that rumours need to be set to rest and feelings addressed. Who knows, maybe that would do more harm than good, but I think it should be considered, at least. I am fairly certain that Aimee is capable of understanding the situation without over-applying it. She is a clever kid. Tonight she told me that she would “prefer” one thing over another. She a product of intellectual parents, but still six. So I don’t think I will avoid her questions tomorrow. But watered-down and simplified is the way to go, I think.
As for Jack and the preschool-aged kids that attend daycare at the school, I don’t know what to think. He’s already freaked out about hurricaines. I’m afraid if I tell him what happened, even in a simple way, he will get freaked out about guns or fighting or school. When something happens this close to home, literally, it gives new meaning to terms and expressions we toss around all the time. “I could have killed him!” “These mosquitoes are murder!” Do I really want his childhood tainted by that, before he is capable of the level of abstraction necessary to understand the context?
Anyway, now, thanks to poorly-parented gang brats with access to firearms (no mean feat in Canada), I no longer feel safe in my own neighbourhood, and I have yet more parental guilt. I know my outrage is but a fraction of what that boy’s family is going through right now. It’s too bad collective ire can’t be a factor in sentencing. If it was, I suspect the pillory would be a popular choice. Perhaps it ought to be reconsidered.