It Just Takes One Moment…

photoAt 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.


5 thoughts on “It Just Takes One Moment…

  1. I also saw the early alert and carried on as if it were nothing, until a fuller picture became clear. But what does it say about us? That an alert about a school shooting doesn’t make us stop in horror until a second alert wakes us up?

    I don’t have an answer.

  2. I’m with you. This whole thing…from beginning to end…is just horrifying. We have become too desensitize and then it becomes too late.

  3. It took me half the day to process this. At first, embarrassing as this is to admit, the news story was “just another shooting” and I paid little attention, not even hearing the word “elementary” before school. I needed to get Jayden fed and off to gym class.

    Then, listening to the news on the way home, I heard the numbers–with the emphasis on “numb.” My mind just didn’t know how to deal with this news report. I turned my mind off, concentrated on Jayden, and tried not to think about something I couldn’t fix or even help with.

    It wasn’t until Jayden took his nap and I watched the speech by Obama that things started to really sink in. And then I saw the faces of those parents, the ones who’d found their kids and were photographed heading quickly for their cars by eager reporters . And then I heard the message from the Connecticut governor to the parents who were still waiting for news of their child, the hardest thing he probably ever had to say: if you haven’t been reunited with your child yet, there are no more children waiting.

    And finally, after several hours of trying desperately to keep this tragedy out of my heart, I began to cry for those children and even more for their families. It could well have been any of us, and that is so very terrifying.

    Wendy and I both gave Jayden a lot of hugs tonight. All he wanted to do was play, of course, but even that was precious to us, every second that we were with him.

    I realize that, as Obama said, this isn’t the time yet to get political. But I just have to wonder, had the founding fathers known about the school shootings, theater massacres, mall rampages, assassination attempts against congressional representatives and even a number of presidents…if they knew of all the parents who would never be able to hug their children again, the pain, the suffering, and the anguish, might those founding fathers have phrased the second amendment a little differently–or included it at all?

    Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Hamilton, Franklin and the rest saw firearms as muskets, not semi-automatic weapons that can turn the world into your own personal arcade game.

  4. I grew up in Fairfield, CT – a few towns away from Newtown. Two of my friends live in Sandy Hook but “luckily” both their youngests are in 5th grade this year – but went to this school and know the teachers. One of these friends is a pediatrician in town – and he knew many of these sweet angels as his patients. All of our hearts are heavy with this horrible tragedy – and the whole community needs help to heal and feel safe again. I cannot imagine having to look at these families face to face when my family is unscathed. To say my heart aches is an understatement. Parenting just got a whole lot scarier.

  5. Thank you all for your comments. It’s good to see that there are kind, caring, and concerned parents out there. Jon – I completely agree with you. This is not what our forefathers had intended. Laura – I cannot imagine how that community is coping with this loss. I’ve certainly been thinking about it a lot and I’m 3000 miles away!

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