The Adventures Of Fatherhood – May 27, 2022

Like most of you, I am sick over another school shooting. I can’t rehash the details again. You know all about the horror. I don’t need to tell you how many have died, how it transpired and recap the incident further. You know as much as I do.  All I can do here is vent.

My wife and I did not talk much to our sons, 14 and 12, about Tuesday’s shooting. It was not a conscious decision. It’s just we have already had these conversations about these disgusting incidents. They understand the severity of it. They know it’s not right and acceptable. It’s horrifying and tragic. They seem to get the magnitude of it all.

I remember my oldest son Beckett saying after one of the school shootings years ago, “I am just glad that will never happen at my school. It’s too small.” I remember those words so clearly, although I don’t recall what I said.

It’s just so painful to envision a similar incident happening to our kids even remotely near this community we call home. The impact on us all would be unimaginable. I’m sick even considering it. I agree with the hope in Beckett’s sentiment, but I am scared there may be too much innocence in the thought.

The night of the most recent incident I knew the next day at school would probably appear different for both my kids. The police presence was there to offer an assurance of understanding and awareness, but it was largely cosmetic if we are being honest. Shortly after the first bells rung, the police vehicles moved on beyond the normal presence on hand. It’s okay, it’s just what it is. It was still a well-intentioned presence to ease shaky parent psyches.

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What was not interesting was the political reactions – not actions — to the incidents. I did not read one of the many emails from legislators that filled my newspaper editor’s inbox. I find the statements boring and predictable. What I will do is watch attentively the status of legislation aimed at preventing similar incidents from occurring, all the while knowing it’s not a simple matter because mental illness is often involved.

Today, I just can’t wrap my head around the enormity of it all. When I put myself in the place of those parents who lost their fourth graders to a senseless murderer, goosebumps over take me. It’s the same for the families of the two teachers killed. The sense of loss is too much to bear. Sending them strength through prayer seems all that’s left, though much more is needed.

As the day wore on Wednesday (the day after the most recent shooting), my mind drifted to the teachers across the country inside the schools and their mindsets. Most of them have families themselves and surely, they have many fears to overcome. As my day progressed Wednesday, my mind wandered away from the tragedies of the day before. Life has a way of doing that. Thoughts and concerns are replaced with other more pressing matters. We don’t forgive or forget. While we certainly must not become desensitized to it all, preoccupations from life replace the worries as top of mind issues. Later, when there is time to take a breath from the rushed nature of days, we come back to these concerns weighing on our hearts.

I came across a letter this week that was written in 2018 by Lauryn Meascarenas, director of equity affairs for a public school system and a former teaching and learning specialist for Teaching Tolerance, and sourced to learningforjustice.org. Four years have passed, and her words remain all too relevant once again.

Dear Teacher,

I know you’re scared. I know you are watching your phone for news, thinking, this could be my school. I know you’re looking around your classroom today, looking for the best place to hide your students. I know you are eyeing the doors and windows for where the closest exit is.

I know that you did not become a teacher so that you could be an expert in security codes and evacuation protocols. I know you did not think being a teacher was a life-and-death profession.

That you would suspiciously listen to the intercom every time it crackled into life, holding your breath, waiting for the words that would alert you to a violent situation. I know you are an expert at projecting a calm face and voice when your heart is leaping with fear, at continuing with a lesson when your hands are shaking with anxiety. That you crack jokes and change the subject when you are huddled with your students, during a practice lockdown or during the real thing.

I know that, if you have children of your own, your heart aches to be with them as you protect the children in your class who are no less yours. I know that you would do anything to keep them calm and safe. I know that your heart is breaking and — at the same time — swelling for the love you have for your students. 

I know you are waking up this morning to a nightmare. I know you are frustrated, tired and weary of the news. I know you are wearing your coat of bravery today.

I know that you became a teacher because you believe in the future.

Keep going, teacher. Keep rising each day with the promise of hope. Keep showing up and teaching and inspiring and giving your students all that they deserve. In the face of the unknown, keep going until our future doesn’t hold this fear anymore.

Love,

A Fellow Teacher

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.