By Irene F. Starkehaus -
It's an odd dichotomy being a helicopter mom to teenagers in these ruthless days. I still feel this Rambo – First Blood type of protection for them. It's present just under the surface of what the world views as serenity. I silently convulse somewhere between that instinctive need to block and tackle anyone who thinks he's going to mess with my kids versus letting my children go to become the adults that they need to be.
Odder still is the dialog that I had recently with these young adults – my children. In spite of the fact that I could have literally held them in the palm of my hand not so long ago, they now tower above me while still gazing down upon me like I have all the answers.
Given the subject matter, it turns out that I have very few tangible answers for them. Mostly, I have instructions.
I wanted to reassure them that everything would be alright at school, that they would be safe, that nothing would happen to them. I wanted to reassure them as one would reassure her toddlers that there are no monsters living under the bed.
But unlike under their beds, the world is actually filled with monsters, isn't it? So I instead of coddling, I talked to them as one adult speaks to her equals about survival. I think my bluntness took them off guard. In spite of the Short Attention Span Theater that is adolescence, they clearly were listening when I clinically explained how they might best survive an ambush that could but probably won't happen to them in their lifetimes.
"I'm afraid that someone could shoot at our school."
I hovered in the middle of buttering toast to consider my response. Then I nodded and validated the concerns. "That's a reasonable fear to have, honey. It doesn't matter how many 'gun-free zone' signs they post on the door. If someone wants to get at your school, there's a good chance he will."
This answer wasn't the one they thought they were going to get, but it's the truest and therefore kindest thing I could come up with. When it comes to school violence, I find that I don't want them to feel safe and secure anymore. I just want them to live.
"Then why do we have to go?" Fair question. One that translates roughly to, "How can you send me to a place where some random sociopath could casually decide to live out the lyrics to a Boomtown Rats song?" Not that they know who the Boomtown Rats were, but you get my drift.
"You have to go." Also not the answer they were hoping for. No "whys", no empathy. It was just, "This is what you have to do, so this is what you're going to do."
I didn't provide the most graceful discussion that I have ever had with my children in case you were wondering. My answers…my talking points if you prefer…contradicted a lot of the narratives that are starting to confront them at school, or from Washington, or with their peers or on social media or even in the lyrics of songs. Everywhere they go, they are being taught things that I think are flat out wrong, and every one of those wrong assertions emboldens the kind of violence that our nation witnessed at Umpqua Community College in Oregon.
This makes for a potent conversation over the likes of Fruit Loops and cinnamon toast. Here are some excerpts from our morning banter along with the dialog that I don't dare add to it:
"No. We don't need more gun laws. We need more people who value life." I realize this is a tall order. In the face of documented evidence that Planned Parenthood in running a chop shop on human infants, their corporate leadership still has the audacity to bear false witness and claim it isn't happening. Come! Take a tour of the facilities! Isn't that their invitation to the committee members that oppose funding Planned Parenthood? (And isn't that exactly what Hitler offered the Red Cross?)
Forget the demonstrable proof! Let's walk you through a clinic! I would suggest that this dissociative behavior from the Left may very well represent a divergent mutation in Homo sapiens that may ultimately separate us into two different species. If an adult can look upon a living, breathing, kicking abortion and clinically muse about how to best utilize his internal organs, is it any wonder that our nation's children can take guns to school and blow away a dozen or so classmates? We must teach our children that life is precious or life will hold no value at any stage.
"Yes. I want you to break the rules and carry your phones with you. They're your best weapons. If anyone wants to give you a bad time about it, tell them to call me and we'll discuss it." I wonder if the school's administrators will recognize this as a form of civil disobedience or if detention is ultimately forthcoming. This is neither here nor there. Under these violent circumstances, it is better to ask forgiveness than permission. It would seem that we'll be spending a fair amount of time in the confessional until graduation.
"Yes. The shooter targeted Christians." Isn't it interesting how many pop culture references assert that Christianity is an overly influential superstition that brings chaos and violence to the world? (Yeah, Christian? Well, how about the Crusades? Hmmm?)
"No. You have my permission to do whatever you need to do to survive a dangerous situation. Think for yourself rather than as a group. Assess your circumstances. Pay attention to details and opportunities. Ask God for protection and wisdom."
"What if someone points a gun to my head and asks if I believe in God?" I felt a lump jump to my throat over that one. You see, this isn't as hypothetical a question as it was even a decade ago. With growing frequency, Christians are targeted and attacked for their beliefs. The now retired Cardinal Francis George was more prophetic than he could have ever imagined when he said:
"I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the Church [Christianity] has done so often in human history."
As for my answer to my child's question? It nearly broke my heart.