It’s 9:39 at night and I’m staring at my computer screen.
I’m also eating Haagen Daz strawberry ice cream straight from the carton. This is my dinner, because I got home from school at 7:00 tonight.
I was just in time to read my 4 year old daughter a bedtime story.
I have spent exactly 1 hour of the day with her because I leave for work before she wakes up in the morning. Eating instead of snuggling isn’t even an option.
I could cook, but after getting up at 5:30 and putting in a 12.5 hour day, I just don’t have the energy. I’d probably fall asleep and burn the house down- so ice cream it is.
I read the news and chomp down on a few more spoonfuls.
I swing between royally pissed off and weepy.
I want to scream at the computer screen.
Arming teachers? In my building we can’t even be trusted to work the laminator!
I keep thinking about the kids in Parkland, FL., about what I would do if someone came to my school intending to harm my students.
Call me arrogant, but I’m pretty convinced this won’t happen. The statistics overwhelmingly support that school shootings are a white, middle class problem.
Culturally, white middle class men buy guns that are designed as military weapons. White, middle class America has a culture of toxic masculinity, where instead of caring about the safety of their children, they care about how big their “recreational” guns are.
Spoon in my teeth, I fire off messages about my participation in local rallies. I draft some letters to legislators. I make a “to-do list” to bring up the subject to my union.
Then I pick the carton back up, relax a bit, and the other me starts to leak out.
You see, I’m a white parent. I truly believe that I am safer in school than my suburban counterparts- so what does that mean for my daughter?
Academically, it means that my white privilege has protected me from from actively thinking about gun violence for a very long time. Only now am I starting to live the crippling fear that black parents face on a daily basis as their children walk out the door.
But that woman- the logical, academic, unafraid one- is melting with the last of the ice cream.
This other me knows that each day my baby gets on the bus, pigtails and purple backpack swinging, she is in greater danger than I am in my “rough”, urban, school.
It means although I have made peace with the vitriol (and sometimes safety issues) that come as backlash to my unapologetic, liberal, outspoken self, I can not actually comprehend a world where the most innocent of us all are gunned down in school.
It means I cannot begin to formulate a plan or a to-do list, because all I want to do is run upstairs, curl by body around my daughter, and never let go.
It is as that woman that I’m writing this blog post.
The teacher who, for so long, has worn her righteous indignation as her armor is tired and scared.
I know I’m not as compelling, not as powerful, but I’m what’s left- a mother whose tears are running for all of our children.
If we can’t look past our differences to see the innocence that we are slaughtering while we shout at each other, I fear that the day will come when no metal detector, no security officer, mental health screening, no armed teacher will be enough. That we, as a nation, will have become so entrenched in our desire to be right, we will have destroyed the hope that comes with the promise of a new generation.
Then again, maybe we are already there.
My breath catches and I run to the sink.
It’s not the ice cream that’s made me sick.