At 9:15am this morning, Justin and all of his school friends began to perform in their holiday show. He first appeared with his 4th grade mentors in a song about the holidays and friendship. He then appeared with his kindergarten class in a performance of a funny song and dance about dreidels. Justin happily sang, danced, and took his bows after a number of songs throughout the morning.
At the end of each “set,” the parents enthusiastically praised their kids. Hoots, hollers, and shouts of “That’s my kid!” came from the giddy parents. Even though it was freezing outside, the atmosphere was filled with warmth and love. Here we were – proud parents cheering on our kindergarten through 5 grade students!
I was expecting a call from CBS this morning because I needed to handle an issue with a client. Normally, I would have put my phone in my pocket and enjoyed the morning, but the call was time sensitive and even if I couldn’t take the call, I knew I could respond with an email. My phone was in my hand for the whole performance.
My phone buzzed once and I saw the first alert from CNN. There was a school shooting. No further information was available. I hoped for the best, turned my phone over, and returned to watch the kids gleefully singing and dancing.
A few moments later, another alert from CNN appeared on my phone – Breaking News: Official: 27 dead at Conn. school, including 18 children. I stared at my phone for a moment and re-read the announcement twice. I remember sitting between my father and my wife and having the blood drain out of my face. This was very, very bad. I thought about leaning over and showing the alert to GWE, but decided against it. She (and every other parent) would soon find out what I had learned and there was no reason to ruin the last few minutes of her enjoyment of the show.
I sat there quietly and smiled while my son performed. Once or twice I looked around in an effort to observe my surroundings. There were happy parents everywhere watching the show, waving with pride to their children, and video-taping this event…all the while basking in the holiday cheer. It was very odd to know something that no one around me knew and the irony of the moment was not lost on me. Here I was watching happy students performing for their adoring parents and across the country another group of Kindergarten through 4th grade parents where anxiously waiting to hear if their sons and daughters were still alive. At that moment, many of them were being told the worst thing any parent could ever hear.
This blog has never been about standing on a soapbox while telling the readers what to think or do. It has been about telling you true (and mostly funny) stories about our boys. And, while this tragedy will spark debate over gun control, mental health, and personal security…I would like to focus on one thing – the innocence of children.
We are all GenXDads, GenXMoms, GenXAunts, GenXUncles, GenXCousins, and even GenXGrandparents. We are all one degree away from a young and innocent child. When you get home, grab a child (preferably yours), give them a huge hug and kiss….and then do it again for those who can’t this evening.