Monday, December 17, 2012

A letter to my 6 yr old

On December 4, 2012, we celebrated you turning 6 yrs old! What a milestone! We got up and got you ready for school, as usual. Ted, your elf on the shelf, appeared in your room with a Happy Birthday sign.

You wore a super hero birthday badge on your uniform shirt. I watched you brush your teeth and wash your face like a big boy. On our way downstairs, I noticed your room was messy, as usual. Typical 6 yr old boy stuff. I gave you your medicine and supplements and we sat out on the porch and waited for your bus. You told me about your best friend Owen and what you planned on doing at school that day. Your bus came, I kissed you goodbye, without a care in the world.

I went inside and got to work baking 20 gluten free cupcakes, complete with Spiderman cupcake toppers, to bring to school for you to share with your classmates on that special day.

I watched the clock all day, excited to surprise you at 1 pm that day. When I got there, you and your classmates were all so excited! I watched as your sweet kindergarten teacher placed a birthday crown on your head.

Then all of your adorable 5 and 6 yr old classmates sang Happy Birthday to you before enjoying their cupcakes and telling you how awesome they tasted and giving you birthday hugs.

I smiled a lot. So did you. After we cleaned up, you asked to come home with us. I needed to finish some things at the house before you got home from school and we took you out later to celebrate so I told you to finish the day with your friends and I'd see you soon. I kissed you before I left, without a care in the world.

Exactly 10 days after we celebrated your 6th birthday, the horrible news of the CT elementary school shooting appeared on my facebook news feed. I refused to turn on the television in hopes of it being a crazy hoax. Unfortunately, it was real. So very real. I started reading people's status updates that reported several children killed. My chest tightened. My first glimpse of a picture from the scene was of the children walking in a single file line, just the way I'd seen you and your classmates walk 10 days earlier. There was a big difference, though. You and your classmates walked with smiles on your faces, without a care in the world. These kids were crying and terrified, worried for their lives. I could not breathe. I could not read anymore information on the shooting until much later that night. Once I allowed myself to watch the news, I cried.

26 people were killed that morning. Most of them 6 and 7 yr olds. The others, sweet, passionate teachers and a principal who devoted her time to making sure the students were always happy and most importantly, safe. None of these kids woke up in fear. Many left home in the same manner that you did on that morning...a less than clean room, excitement about what they would do that day at school with their friends, and a sweet kiss from mom and dad with the hope of seeing them again in just a few short hours. The teachers surely all had lesson plans ready to go. Great Christmas crafts for the kids to make to bring home to their parents. Wonderful stories to read to them. None of them planned to have to risk their lives in order to protect their kids from such violence. But they did. Such brave teachers.

My shock and fear upon learning the news of the shooting is certainly obsolete when it comes to the shock and fear of the parents of the children in the school on that horrible morning. I can't even imagine the paralyzing fear. Not knowing if your child is one of the many killed. The relief, despite the fear, upon being reunited. The take-my-breath-away anguish when you find out that your child is not coming out of that school alive.

I think back to December 4 and how nonchalant I was about our morning routine. I feel like I took it for granted. It could have easily been the last time I watched you brush your teeth, the last time you walked out of your messy room, the last time I had to count out your pills and supplements, the last time we sat on the porch talking about your plans for the day, the last time I kissed you goodbye. The last time. Those cupcakes that I baked could have ended up being left on the counter, uneaten, just like so many wrapped Christmas gifts are going to remain unopened. It is so hard to grasp. However, if there is one thing that I will not allow this tragedy to do is to cause us to live in fear. I plan to continue our daily routine, as usual. I won't lie and say that I will continue to send him off to school without a care in the world. Just like so many others, his safety and well being will always remain a major concern of mine but I cannot allow it to affect his life. What I can do, however, is cherish every single moment as if it was the last time. Rest in Peace to all of the Sandy Hook Elementary victims.

**Just a note that Jayden is aware that something bad happened at a school on Friday, as we prayed for the children and will continue to do so, but he does not know any of the details. I do not feel that he is old enough to understand right now, without becoming very afraid of going to school.**

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