Monday, February 26, 2018

I am weary of the guns

Oh, my friends.

I am weary.

I am weary of gun violence.

I am weary of sending my 7-year-old daughter to school each day and praying for her safety.

Of giving her extra hugs and kisses in the morning and silently praying her for safety.

Safety from falling at recess and skinning her knee, safety from bullies with mean words whether they be attacking her or whether she hears them hurdled at another and has to find the courage to stop the violence of language so harsh and painful that a child might cry or remember them forever or use them to torture herself later when she remembers "fat, ugly, stupid" or whatever racist slur or gender bias or homophobia that sears her to her core, if not at 7 then at 18 or 21 or 30, when they pop back into her consciousness and she doesn't (or does) realize their point of origin.

Because the hurting starts somewhere at some point.

I am weary of marching and chanting and making signs and phone calls and letters to representatives that never care or even hear us.

I am weary of teenagers and men--always men--yelling at me or a fellow gun warrior when we stand on the sidewalk begging for change and they get in our faces or shout from their fast moving cars or slow moving bicycles with their ugly words and we have to listen because First Amendment rights are for all of us. But they get in our faces--the face of my friend whose sister died in a mass murder at a salon while her mother sat in her chair getting her hair done by her favorite-ever stylist and somehow survived while her daughter and their friends bled to death around her.

I am weary of the Facebook fights and the online wars and the TV faces calling kids who lived through hell actors and our President and his followers believing those falsehoods because I do not know why. Small minds. deaf ears. blind. cold hearts.

I am weary of teaching and being in a classroom on the day of Columbine. The next day when one of my students wore a black trench coat to school. Of the next day when despite a shooting of successful deaths numbered higher because the killers pulled the fire alarm and the children and teachers streamed out as they are supposed to. because they are supposed to do that. to save themselves from flame. and died of bullet fire instead. Of that next day, when our school held the previously scheduled fire drill as planned and I walked with those children out. knowing that some kids--that we might, too, one day--maybe that day--die of gun fire because we followed those rules.

I am weary of the dead and dying. I am weary of the fights of all types. I am weary of the meetings where I learn how to recognize the signs of suicide or murderous desperation and how to save my students with a locked door and the shrinking size of my classroom closet filled with books and pencils and bandaids and kleenex that I bought myself with my teacher's salary because someone might have a cold or a cut or not be able to afford their own paper and pen and I have more just in case. Fit the 35 kids in there. Just first toss out the treats that I bought to reward them during rounds of jeopardy that I made up to review the plot and characters and author and history of Catcher in the Rye. When Holden Caulfield was the craziest high school kid we knew.

and be silent.

Because silence will save us in the hail of bullets, but using our voices--amplified with bullhorns and microphones and meetings with the President because he cares (because our babies have died) (doesn't careknow whittles to do)--oh how we hope our voices will save us before we are under fire of bullets not words.

Arm the teachers with love. And a gun.

I am weary of this morning.

When after helping her with her jacket I snatched my daughter--my baby--into a hug and smothered her face with kisses before helping her with her backpack, too, and she told me "you don't have to say goodbye" (and that I "have coffee breath"), laughing at me because I am about to walk her to school and her classroom door, and I don't have to say goodbye yet, Mommy, of course. 12 more minutes until the bell.

I am weary of catching my prayer of "you never know" and "I hope you're right" and "that's what the moms and dads and of those 20 first graders and 14 teenagers and 6 educators and 3 educators and the rest thought, too."

"You're right," I say, "Silly Mommy." But I do it because she's growing up--7--and sometime during 6 the hugs and kisses at the door of her classroom were no longer guaranteed because she's "not a baby." So I steal them at the door of our home because I have to have them. Just in case. and because I will miss her all day. (Though be relieved of the silence and independence and trips to the store without asking her not to touch this that and the other thing.)

Because I can't let her go to school mad or sad because I rushed her or she resisted eating her breakfast or brushing her teeth or getting out of bed and I insisted. Because if the tone she remembers--I remember--is not 100% undying love and affection... I can't. (also because I want her to have a good day, and I know it's hard to listen to the math lesson when you're mind is replaying the mommy-is-mean-and-I-maybe-am-naughty sounds.)

I am weary of it all.

But today is the day to walk the dog at the beach and let us both breathe the salt air and enjoy the fun of chasing the tennis ball into the splashy whitewash of the sea. Today is the day to call a friend and see how she is doing after that (hopefully) not credible threat the principal emailed the parents about after the bell because come to school to learn and to keep the attendance up so the teachers get paid because that's based on the numbers and the stats... well... come to school because it won't happen here. Today is the day to contact a politician and say thank you for your good vote or for the love of God please don't vote for more guns please listen to me please open your door. (Because really, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher kept out moms with stacks of postcards demanding action for gun sense, he locked us out of his office and we could hear his cowardly staff working inside and see through the crack that they had stacked books at the door to block us from stuffing the cards under the door. If the cards, the words, never get into the room, if they remain litter in the hallway, they don't count or need response.) Today is the day to welcome into Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America all of the people who finally at 17 more lives are motivated to join the fight. Today is the day to do laundry and #keepgoing and catch up on cleaning the house because 11 days have passed since Valentine's Day's massacre and I've been to 3 meetings and 3 very unexpected rallies and talked to press and written letters and all of that takes time. (But not that much time if you do just one of those things! Please join me! a two-minute phone call to an intern who rights down your name and zip code and the reason for your call)

I am weary of all of this gun stuff.

But I #keepgoing. Because if I do nothing and it happens here (it has, you know, at that salon Ella and I used to walk by on the way to the park when she was one year old and the sirens rang through my house and the shooter was caught two very short blocks away from her crib), I will have done nothing and die of that thought alone.

I am not helpless.

But I am weary.