Letter: What kind of adults will they become?

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, October 5, 2017

I hesitated to write this because I didn’t want to seem like I was making the tragedy in Las Vegas into a “me” thing. But then, it is about me. And you. And every single American. This is our new reality, and I have no idea how to handle it.

You see, my son is 4 years old. His baby sister just turned 3.

Today they were playing school. My son was writing the alphabet, and my daughter was attempting to copy the letters. Each time she made something recognizable, he would put a smiley face beside it and tell her good job.

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I smiled and thought that there was still some sunshine left in this world.

Then he took his little sister by the hand and led her to the scarecrow in the yard. He said something, then they both ran to a bush and hid.

I asked what they were doing now.

My 4-year-old child innocently informed me that they were still playing school. This was the red alert, active shooter part. He didn’t know what the words all meant, but they were something he had learned — in preschool.

The scarecrow was the bad shooter guy, and they were supposed to lock the door and run to hide in the coat closet.

I stood there stupidly for a long minute. Then I went around the corner, and I cried. My little boy may not know what those words mean, but I do.

My son is learning in preschool that he is not safe there, or anywhere. And he’s teaching his sister.

This isn’t a boogey-man jumping out of the shadows or stranger-danger story to scare my children. This is someone we may or may not know, who could be any race, religion or sex. Someone who may be a stranger, or might be a teacher or another parent. Or even a classmate. We don’t know what they look like, or where they will strike next.

My children don’t watch the news. They don’t know what a Democrat or Republican is, nor do they care. They don’t know anything about guns except that you should never touch one.

Now, they are learning much too young what a scary place the world is. My son is learning in preschool that he is not safe at any time, anywhere. I can’t look him in the eyes and tell him that that’s not true. I can’t always be there to do what a parent is meant to do, protect their children.

I have no idea what to tell my children about the mass shootings, car-killings, all the hate in the country I love. I don’t even know what to tell myself. What kind of adults will this generation become, growing up unable to trust that the most important people in their little world can keep them safe now?

Dixie Mittag