Personal thoughts the day after the Aurora shooting.

Colorado and our household are very sad today.

First, I want to give my heart and positive thoughts to everyone out there that was a “first responder” to the Aurora shooting – their contributions tend to be overlooked, but I know there are emergency room personnel, police, reporters and many others who will be haunted by the first hand images and stories that they’re hearing from the victims. These people and the impact these events have on their  lives are sometimes overlooked and I personally just want to send a virtual hug out to all of them.

I have rarely made this blog personal – sometimes interjecting my personal feelings into events I attend or things to do around Colorado but in this case – as far removed from the shootings as I was – it still somehow seems it requires a more personal response – because that’s all I’m really qualified to give. My parents live a few miles from the scene of the shooting and while far away (they don’t go to the movies) somehow that still seems too close.

Mostly I felt compelled to do a follow up to my post yesterday on talking to your children. We did talk to our children about the shooting and it went as well as can be expected. We have never addressed issues like these with our kids and we can say “oh they were too young” but frankly we were chicken – we didn’t really want to deal with the potential tears, the nightmares and the really tough questions that only kids can ask, but at 10 and 11 we decided our kids are too old and this event was too close to gloss over.

My 11 year old daughter tends to be stoic about these things – not wanting to talk and express her feelings and definitely not wanting details – but I knew she’d hear and I wanted her to get information from me.  When my husband and I sat both kids down and told them about the events of the night before, we tried to stick to the facts but give them most of the information they might hear on the internet or in school.

My daughter is mature enough that lately she’s been loaning me books and one of these books was from the point of view of a little girl who’s mother is in an abusive relationship – not graphic, but it’s definitely a lot more reality than I had at her age.  I asked her several times yesterday how she felt and she said “just sad Mommy” – when I was headed to bed last night I saw the message she had written on the calendar “sadness”. I think that about sums it up.

My 10 year old son has aspergers – his passion in life is to be a movie director – he remembers every movie he’s ever seen and his recent interest is super hero movies and comic  books. He’s never seen this series of Batman movies because he’s sensitive and we decided they’re just too dark.  Now “The Dark Night Rises” movie will forever take on a dark shadow that doesn’t even have to do with the plot.

My son’s reaction to being told about the shootings was interesting – first he said, with tears streaming down his face, “in a movie theater?” (sort of implying it was his own refuge – why there?). I read an interview yesterday with the director Christopher Nolan and he said

“The movie theater is my home, and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me,” said Nolan.

I thought of my son who definitely feels that same violation – movies are magic and an escape and for my son and the place he holds most dear.  It seemed to be such an invasion.

My son made a point out of wanting to see a picture of “who did this” – so when a photo of the gunman finally appeared on the news, I called him into the room. Oddly, he seemed to feel better. I think it’s because the picture they posted did have a bit of an evil glint in the guy’s eye (or maybe I was imagining that too). Maybe now my son feels he can identify bad guys? I’m not sure if that’s good or bad but we’ll be sure to talk more about it in the days to come.

Both kids slept last night – no nightmares and so that’s I guess all I can ask as a parent. We watched movies and ate popcorn last night – not really a planned homage, but our family tribute or perhaps an attempt to conquer our own fears.

If you feel you want to do more Bonfils Blood Bank is still asking for donations in the weeks ahead – they were booked up for most of the weekend, but call and make an appointment – they mentioned in an interview that as interest wanes, they still end up needing the supply, so keep trying.

The Denver Chapter of Project Linus is organizing an emergency blanket making day for this Sunday from 1-4 pm – check their website for information on location.

Mary-Frances Main, editor and publisher of Denver Parent

1 comment

Nicely done. I think it is very important to not overly shelter our children, but we can’t give them information / responsibilities that they cannot handle. Being able to share the information and then give them time to talk is so important, because you can be there to understand, sympathize, and support them as they work through just what it means. Things like this are difficult because at the bottom they are just senseless: There is no purpose, no reason, and probably no action that could have prevented it.
In an interesting coincidence: A friend of our son’s had invited him to spend the day at Elitches – but when we found out that it would just be the two 11-yr-olds without any adult supervision we decided that was too young and too small – however I was a little guilt-torn about denying him the experience. When we heard the news this morning, despite its complete non-relationship, somehow my decision seemed better. We can’t protect them forever, but I can protect him today!
Both actions get at the heart of what is difficult about being a parent: Deciding when to let the rope out, and when to pull it in and envelope them in our well intentioned (but sometimes suffocating) love. Your handling of this with your children strikes a nice balance, I think, and the support of your both being there to help as they grow up a little will give them strength.

Comments are closed.