Why I'm Not Picking Up My Kids Early From School Today

The shooting in Newton.

This is a letter from my kids' principal today, 12/14/12 the day of a horrific school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

"Dear Parents,

I know most of you have heard about the terrible tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.  Our hearts go out to the entire community there.  Please know that our staff will not discuss this with students or bring it up in front of them.  They will not hear of this from school.  If there is a discussion to be had it will be with family.

Please be assured that we do everything to keep your children safe in in caring hands.

Please take care and give your children an extra hug from me."

And this is why I'm not going to pick up my kids early from school. My kindergartener is safe at home already but I also have a first and second grader. I want to hug and kiss them and give them cookies right now, but they don't need that. What they need is a normal day at school. A normal, safe day playing with their friends. A day that 18 children will never get to experience ever again. My kids get to come home and light the candles for the menorah and their friends get to play in front of and enjoy the beauty of their Christmas tree. There are parents in Connecticut who have gifts under the tree that will never be opened. My heart is breaking for them.

But I will not shed tears in front of my kids when I pick them up. I will try my hardest. That would only scare them. An hour ago I whimpered reading something on Facebook and my 5 year old asked what was wrong. I immediately pulled it together. He has Autism and this would be very confusing for him. His teacher is on medical leave, so school is already an upheaval for him right now, and he doesn't need to know that school can be even more unsafe.

If my kids ask of course I will discuss this topic with them. But I will spare them as many details as possible and let them know that their school is safe. When they come home today the news will be turned off and I will have a marathon of Chopped (my favorite cooking show) on the t.v. Their t.v. will have cartoons. We will celebrate Hanukkah and they will go to bed. And my husband and I will go to bed grateful beyond belief. 

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Ed December 17, 2012 at 01:34 AM
Like everyone else I am troubled by what happened in CT. I am an educator and know first hand how senseless gun violence kills our youth. I agree with reggieqh1, we need to teach and be examples to children on how to accpet the differences in others. We need to teach children other problem solving ways and that guns are not the answer when you have a problem or issue with someone. On the other hand, 20 young lives were taken, for reason we will never understand, for this I am sad. What I haven't heard anyone say or get this outraged about is the number of young lives that are taken, each year, by senseless gun violence, in places like Oakland, Richmond, San Jose, Chicago, etc.... places where minority children are dying in the same numbers as Newton CT. Because the Sandy Hook shooting took the lives of 20 children all at once in what is perceived as a relatively safe community, and let's face it happened to white children, society is outraged. I'm sure the families of every child killed by a gun wish there were stricter gun controll laws no matter where they live; our outrage should not be just for the families in Newton, it should be for all children killed by gun violence. My heart goes out to the Newton community, families and educators-this should happen to no one.
James Nelson December 17, 2012 at 02:45 AM
Reggie, Very True! My Niece just entered Fourth Grade this year and is one of the most Popular Kids at her School. Not because she runs with a Cliche or cause she's the most Beautiful. She makes EVERYONE apart of her Group. She goes out of her way to make sure others are treated fairly and has chosen to decline Invitations to other kids Parties because others in her Class were not Invited. I'm Proud of her as she isn't Intimidated by the Peer Pressure that most kids are faced with. I wish that every School could have at least one of her in every Class, leading their fellow Classmates by Example. I lacked "Socialization" in School and if you believe the Stereotype Triple Throws around I should already be Dead either by my own Hand or someone else. When these types of Incidents unfold, I think first of the Shooter. To an Extent, I can Sympathize as that could have been me at one point. However we all have the Ability to make Choices and knowing now what I did than. The Difference between Right & Wrong, Sealed my Future. Not everyone concludes this though and some lose themselves entirely consumed by Anger. Although I'm fairly confident he was screwed with in School, I also believe he had some sort of Mental Health Issue which with the proper Attention may have Diverted all of this. I'm glad he is no longer Tormented, but also Mad that he couldn't fight his Temptation and avoid harming others.
Charlotte December 17, 2012 at 02:59 AM
Deep breaths, deep breaths. Triple Canopy, my husband has advised me to not insult my readers and I'm going to try really hard. Autism is not the politically correct term for mental retardation. My youngest has Autism and he is very bright, he is not mentally retarded. He has been tested multiple times by different qualified professionals and he has no cognitive deficits. Nor is he lacking in discipline or socialization. Autism is a neurological disorder. Alzheimers is also a neurological disorder, do you also believe that doesn't exist? I beg of you to educate yourself http://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism/facts-about-autism before you embarrass yourself further. Dive Turn Work, you crack me up.
Triple Canopy December 17, 2012 at 03:27 AM
You can rationalize autism which ever way you want in order to deal with your own situation. The term is a gross generalization which encompasses many types of mental retardation of varying degrees.
Lynnette D December 17, 2012 at 03:28 AM
Ishtar was a really bad decision!
Ilene Van Gossen December 17, 2012 at 03:30 AM
Triple Canopy, you are unbelievable. You must not realize what ignorance you've just displayed. If you really understood how much of a clueless fool you've shown yourself to be, you'd be red-faced with shame.
Voter with an ID December 17, 2012 at 03:31 AM
Home schooled and graduated 3years ahead of the students his age in public schools. So, Charlotte, What was your point?
Valerie Sloven December 17, 2012 at 03:43 AM
Charlotte, you are way too polite . Triple Canopy, you are a bleeping, ignorant moron. If you are going to hurl insults have the guts to use your own name you coward.
Kim Nowlin December 17, 2012 at 03:48 AM
Is anyone aware of where I can find someone with knowledge of mental retardation and its varying degrees? I am particularly looking for a jackass with no medical knowledge and an anus which does all his talking. Thanks!
Voter with an ID December 17, 2012 at 04:01 AM
Ed, you had to play the race card, eh? Even your president interrupted tonight's 49 er game on TV to pontificate about how concerned he is about the victims, who happened to be white. Even obama's handlers who write his material, know that you can't compare kindergarten kids, regardless of race, to drug dealers and ghetto dwelling gang bangers. The inner city victims you bemoan will find a way to get weapons regardless of any well meaning liberal, pacifist policies.
Patti M. December 17, 2012 at 04:04 AM
Trip C, I suspect you have never met or befriended an autistic person or their family or you would not have the sack to make the comments you have here. So unless you want to produce your credentials, I suggest you find something more constructive to do with your time. May I suggest a 5 year plan for moving out of your mom's basement.
Charlotte December 17, 2012 at 04:05 AM
I love my friends.
Dive Turn Work December 17, 2012 at 04:16 AM
More people die in car crashes than plane crashes but when a plane crashes it's a huge media story. This has nothing to do with race but more to do with the fact that it's a mass shooting. When people are killed or die in large numbers at one time, it attracts more attention than when people are killed or die one at a time. Just a media reality.
Dive Turn Work December 17, 2012 at 04:20 AM
Charlotte - Just ignore Triple Canopy. TC's comments make as much sense as McDonald's "I'd Hit It" campaign. You can't waste your time on nonsensical comments like TC's.
Sue Skinner December 17, 2012 at 04:32 AM
Triple Canopy clearly does not have his/ her aluminum foil cap on correctly. Autism does not equal intellectual disability. I think the jury is out on whether the person who killed all of those innocent and blameless children and teachers was in crisis ("snapped") or sociopathic or something else. To assume you know otherwise about his history or motivation is wrong. Thank you for your writing, Charlotte, and hug your kids again for me.
Sue Skinner December 17, 2012 at 04:48 AM
James Nelson, I won't claim to understand anything about the weapons you've described, but I think you have the right idea about limiting the clip size (whatever it takes to reduce the lethality of the weapon). Interesting that there was a knife attack at a school in China the same morning ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-20723910 ) which killed NONE of the children who were attacked. Chris N, any time there is ever a deranged person with a firearm, anything that slows the process down (like changing a clip) can have an impact and maybe save a life. So anyway, I'd say you've both made a good argument for tightening up gun control laws on these fronts. I'd also say that tightening up gun show loopholes and reducing ease of access to firearms, requiring firearms to be locked are other ways to maintain second amendment freedoms while increasing safety. In the field of public health, we can do much better to include gun safety as part of a routine health visit (in my practice, we do this.) and educate where needed. Education about locking guns and removing ammo, etc. can make a difference too. OK, I'm getting off my soapbox. I know this was not what you intended with your blog, Charlotte, but I think there are some good points being made here (though also some really insesitive comments!).
Charlotte December 17, 2012 at 05:14 AM
I have commenced hugging.
Ed December 17, 2012 at 05:25 AM
Autism and people within the autistism spectrum are in no way in what some call the, "mental retardation" (a term no longer used) category; there is no delay or "retardation" of development in an autistic person. As has been said already, autistic people tend to have a very high intelligence level, more often higher than the normal range of their peers. It is this over the top intelligence that possibly makes them the social outcast that society sees. Autistic people, also, often, lack the ability to read the social cues, facial expressions given by others which then leads to avoiding social interractions along with an inability to communicate with others. There's a belief that they are so smart they can't comprehend every day life and choose not to deal with the rest of us so called "normal" people. The medical/psychiatric profession doesn't really know what causes autism; kids whom years ago were considered just odd or weird are now being identified within the autism spectrum. Will anyone ever know why this guy shot and killed 20 children, I doubt it. Does this tragedy have anything to do with autism, maybe, maybe not? Does it mean that all people with autism have the propensity to kill-no more so than any of the rest of us might. If someone still believes autism and "mental retardation" are in the same spectrum here's a question: Do you think someone who is "MR" could plan, follow through and carry out what happened at Sandy Hook?
Dive Turn Work December 17, 2012 at 05:44 AM
One of the best comments I've read today. Thank you!
Ed December 17, 2012 at 06:54 AM
Voter with an ID, Are you assuming that all minority children killed by gunfire are, "drug dealers and ghetto dwelling gang bangers"? There are innocent kindergarten kids, who are not drug dealers or gang bangers, being shot and killed in the "inner city" you say I "bemoan". How is it those kindergartners ( or 1st graders, 2nd graders, etc......) aren't deserving of our outrage just as the children in CT are? As a society we have become accustomed to hearing about children in the "inner city" being killed; we even tell ourselves, just as you did, that they are some how responsible for being shot and killed, it's their fault, they live in a "ghetto" or an area known for gang violence and drug deals. It's not until it happens, in mass, in a community that is perceived safe, where the troubles of the world don't go that we mourn, get outraged and angry, ask how does this happen? Twenty murdered children in Newtown is a nightmare no one should know-as an educator it is unimagineable, I hope that I never have to know what I would do in that situation, if I would step up with the same courage as the staff at Sandy Hook did. Whether it is twenty innocent lives taken all at once or over a period of months or a year the call for an end to gun violence should be the same. As for Obama being my president, do you mean because you assume I voted for him or because you assume I am the same race as him? Either way, I'm proud to call him my president.
Kerri December 17, 2012 at 09:03 AM
I have a hard time believing that TC walks upright without his knuckles dragging on the ground. Charlotte you must have an invisible message on your blog that attracts crazies. I'm sorry your well worded message has been turned into a thread full of crappy people that are disgustingly misinformed. Quick! Foil hats in place, the drones are heading our way!
Ilene Van Gossen December 17, 2012 at 06:12 PM
I think the suggestion of a 5-year plan to move out of his Mom's basement was a good one but the idea that he'd be able to function on his own would be too much to expect. I notice he's not responding to our comments. But then what could he say? His only acceptable response would be a genuine, heatfelt apology to Charlotte. However I'm not holding my breath.
Charlotte December 17, 2012 at 06:17 PM
I am way too busy this week but I feel that I need to take time to write a post about exactly what Autism is. If I make a ton of progress I will have to sit and do that.
little rew December 18, 2012 at 05:41 AM
Triple, That has to be the most ignorant thing I have read in this post so far. Please stop. Do us all a favor.
little rew December 18, 2012 at 05:46 AM
Charlotte, You are awesome, your kids are cute, and you are better than the troglodyte who calls him/herself Triple Canopy.
San Ramon Arts Foundation December 18, 2012 at 05:05 PM
No matter what your child has in the way of psychiatric diagnosis, please talk to him because he has the same rights to feel safe, loved and be understood. A child with autism can understand a lot more than you would realize as they are very sensitive and gifted. I also have a child like this. I know how hard it is at that age. It's very important to let the children know that they are safe, that the world is safe and also how to recognize danger when they are mistreated.
Missy December 20, 2012 at 08:39 PM
Totally agree...
Missy December 20, 2012 at 08:43 PM
and lets not forget was taking college classes at age 16...So yeah... Charlotte... What is your point...
Missy December 20, 2012 at 08:45 PM
But she was taking her son to the shooting range...If my son had a mental health issue the last thing I would do is take him to the shooting range so he knew exactly how to use a gun...
Missy December 20, 2012 at 08:51 PM
Because this was a MASS shooting in a little town (where this is rare) on children...Oakland shootings happen everyday...It's not news anymore...


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