Parenting Blog

Thoughts On Sandy Hook: A Violation Of The Pact

There’s an understanding. There needs to be for all of this to work.

Before the shells crack, they sit still in a safe room, protected from the big loud world and from eager little hands.. Their roof is clear plastic so the anxious foster moms and dads-to-be can easily keep tabs on the progress without stunting it. The joy, untethered to experience, is impossibly in the moment. To witness this or to hear about it at the dinner table is divine, and the giddy optimism is contagious.  When the chicks begin to hatch, the building is abuzz with life, with excitement, with undefined possibility. Times may never get better than right then and there.

The fragility is taught there, maybe for the first time unless the preschoolers have already welcomed a baby brother or sister into their home. The entire classroom has agreed to an unseen, and maybe (although probably not) unspoken pact that each of them will be gentile, loving, protective and, above all else, cause absolutely no harm.  Life is precious and worth preserving, it is likely said in some form or fashion. Hell, we are all one big experiment in the grand scheme of things.


What happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT last week will probably have massive, long-term, and far-reaching implications on us as people and on us as a collective nation. Almost immediately, conversations (read: arguments) were taking place where they usually do — online, on TV, around the water cooler.  Good will come from bad, I need to believe this. What I couldn’t then and still can’t shake today, what struck me to my core in a way that nothing ever has before, not Columbine, not the Batman movie theater shooting, and maybe, in a strange way, even 9/11, is that we share this world and interact every single day with so many who walk a delicate tightrope act between stability and madness, often in secret and in the shadows of society and of their own family and loved ones. This fact, that I of course always knew but never really knew, you know?, is still rattling me.  The waitress that brings out the appetizers, the sous chef who prepared them, the teacher’s assistance that helps with Mouse’s kindergarten classroom, the grandfather of a classmate who is the Bear’s field trip chaperon — what do they have going on in their heads, in their hearts, in their homes?  Are they, or their child or mother or brother going through something traumatic, is it all too much for them to bare?  The randomness and unknowable part of life, of all of our lives, is at center-stage once again and this time, I am partially frozen in place, glassy-eyed and scared for what I cannot stop, cannot prevent, cannot know, and cannot protect myself or my family from. The odds are in our favor that neither you nor I, or anyone we know and love, will ever be impacted by the madness of a stranger.  I get it, but don’t tell that to the those who have been. This time, a simple “chin up” isn’t enough to help reconcile with what has happened. We all need to find our own way back to normal.


To see a small child hold a baby chick in the palm of their hand is to witness goodness and warmth. There is nothing but love and wonder there, and I cannot stop crying thinking about the string of events that happen in between that exact moment, when a youngster looks on with joy in their eyes and is so cautious and careful, not wanted to cause harm to another living thing, and the moments like the Sandy Hook school shooting, that kind of violation of the pact to cause no harm. Where does it all go awry and why does it have to end with unpredictable massacres?

There’s an understanding. There needs to be for all of this to work.

Billy Kelly sent me this link to cheer me up, and it is working. Some beautiful stories and photos of the good in the world that’ll make you smile and help restore your faith in humanity. Thanks, BK.

May you and your family find peace and comfort in each other and in the love you share.

*I borrowed that beautiful photo from here.

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