Another Horrifying, Senseless, Thoughtless Blog Post
December 14, 2012
by Shawn Bean
My 6-year-old threw up all day yesterday. Then last night, my wife and 8-year-old starting throwing up. I am blessed.
This blog post comes to you from Every Parent You Know headquarters: a spot four feet from the television. And it comes to you from right here, right now. My sons, still sluggish and exhausted, are on the sofa downstairs watching The Amazing World of Gumball. I check in on them, then sneak upstairs to the small TV in my wife and I’s bedroom to watch CNN. Like an alcoholic sneaking away for a nip, I escape to watch the macabre scene at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut.
Right now, the banner across the TV screen reads, “27 dead, 18 of them children.” The 24-year-old suspect even shot his mother, says the voiceover, a teacher at the school.
And here I am, laptop open, in a race to be The Thing You Read About This Tragedy. Because Parenting.com, like every other site, wants to be The Place You Go for this story. There is an urgency to contribute something, anything. Should someone on staff write a personal essay? Can we re-post that piece about talking to kids about tragedy? How do we use social media? And so you get this, a dad responding. A dad saying nothing. Just rambling. Please don’t leave. Or if you do, share or like this story before you go.
My 6-year-old just walked up to me with a pencil drawing of a cat. He points out that he even spelled ‘cat.’ He wants another piece of paper from the printer. I say sure.
Back to writing, trying to figure out something to say to keep you compelled. But what is there to say? So far this year I’ve written about the shooting at the Colorado movie theater and the murder of two children in an Upper West Side high rise.
My 8-year-old is hanging off the sofa like a wet doodle. I feel his forehead. A little warm. I ask him if he wants anything. He says a glass of water. I say how about a cup of ice.
This is so wrong, I think to myself right now. What am I doing? What am I writing? Would it be so horrible if we didn’t respond, if we didn’t blog, if we didn’t provide our readers some related story or customized destination?
Actually, it would be. Because in 2012, this is where people gather. In a world where we use apps to learn who our neighbors are, where we mostly make eye contact with icons, this faceless place is our church. This is our safehouse. This is the gathering place. No, it is not perfect, but it will have to do. As our editor in chief told us in an email only an hour ago, nothing unites us more as parents than when a senseless act of violence hurts our children. By writing commentary like this, we are opening the door and inviting you in. Come on in. I know, I know, I’m watching the news too. It’s horrible. You wanna talk about it?
You will read ignorant Facebook comments. Those sad emoticons sporting teardrops that will make you grit your teeth. There will be too many exclamation points. But imperfect as it may be, we want to be heard. And so we cry into comment fields. We scream into status updates.
CNN just provided an update. The number of dead has changed. Twenty children and seven adults, including the gunman.
My boys and their stomach viruses are here with me right now. And I am grateful. My 8-year-old missed his weekly spelling test; he may never know how to spell ‘noisiest’ or ‘busiest’ correctly. My 6-year-old has missed two days of school. He could regress to writing his S’s backwards again. But I don’t care. I just don't care. They are here with me. You are right to feel this way, I say to myself. You are wrong to feel this way, I say to myself.
I trade emails with our research editor regarding a story I'm working on, a piece about the skyrocketing number of parents on antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication. It reminds me of something. I locate some research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Two-thirds of people with severe depression do not take medication or see a mental health professional.
In between Lysol sprays and hands on warms foreheads, I’ve written another horrifying, thoughtless, senseless blog post related to a childhood tragedy. Another blog post that no one wants to read, but we do anyway. And I will read yours. And after yours, I will read others. Hopefully one of us can put this into perspective.