There’s a subtle, sometimes unconscious sigh of relief as a homeschooler when you hear the news. The horrible, awful, heart-breaking news of yet another school shooting. For some of us, this is a very real reason that we homeschool. For others it’s just another reason on the vast list of “why we homeschool.” We homeschoolers sometimes let ourselves feel safe because our kids don’t generally attend public school. That’s a false sense of safety. The gunman at the local mall, the madman driving a truck into a crowd – nowhere is safe. Nowhere.
People always ask us homeschoolers “what about socialization?” And I want to say – I’m glad we can avoid socialization. The bullying kind of socialization – the stressed environment kind of socialization. That’s not what I want my kid to learn; how to get along with people because you fear them or you’re terrified they’re going to attack you. Or worse, to learn to be the bully. To be the oppressor.
This is the scary side of socialization – the realization that not everyone is kind or nice. That some people want to hurt others. True, those are life lessons that our kids need to learn, but I’d rather they not learn it on the receiving end of bullying. Or a school shooting.
I know that’s a luxury. For our family to decide that we can just jump ship and avoid the system altogether. It’s a privilege, even if it’s one that we have to sacrifice things to obtain. I know not everyone can homeschool, and not everyone is suited to homeschool. And because I understand that, I want every child to be able to learn without fear. Without being anxious about something like this happening. I don’t care if they’re homeschooled, public schooled, private schooled, schooled from a hot air balloon or in an RV – they all deserve safety and peace in their learning environment.
For all of us, homeschool or not, it’s still heartbreaking news. For all of us, it’s too many shootings. It’s always too many. And I’m not going to write about gun control, changing laws, or anything like that, because I’m not an expert and it’s not my place. What I do want to say is this: I’m sorry.
I’m sorry to the kids who have to go back into this school, scared and anxious about what they might face. The kids who will have nightmares for the rest of their life, who may never feel safe in a public space again. I’m sorry that your youth was taken from you and you were thrust into a whirlwind of pain and fear. I’m sorry.
I’m sorry to the kids who never had a chance. The ones who won’t graduate, won’t go to college, won’t put their parents through the bittersweet emotions of being an empty nester. I’m sorry isn’t enough – but it’s all I can say.
I’m sorry to the families who lost a loved one. You sent them off to work or school, never dreaming that this might be the last time. The last day. The last hug, the last smile. You are living in a nightmare and nothing I say or do will help at all. I will not tell you my prayers are with you because that’s no comfort and no help. I will not give you empty promises of change or hope for the future, because right now, you have no future. Right now, your future is desolate as far as you can see. I’m sorry. I wish I could change that, to take it all away and reverse time back to the last time you saw them.
I’m sorry to those who rushed to try to help. To stop the gunman, to help the wounded, to see the horrors that were left. I’m sorry that sight is engraved in your brain and seared into your conscious, potentially leaving you with survivor’s guilt. You did the best you could, you saved lives, and you helped people. You are a hero and you are amazing – and I’m sorry.
And to the gunman, I’m sorry. Someone – maybe more than someone – failed you. For you to think that it was ok to kill people – to plan how to do it – that means that we all failed you. The neighbors, the family, the friends you told how you planned it out – we failed you. We didn’t get you the help you needed, and we didn’t stop you from killing others. Someone should have said “this is not right” and reported you – and maybe they did. Maybe no one took them seriously, and that’s a failure too. I’m sorry no one loved you enough to stop you.
I’m sorry. And sorry isn’t enough, is it?