When I decided to blog, I never set out to comment on world events or interpret such things. I am simply somebody who is trying to change and improve her own life and I’m documenting this process on my blog.
Then, a gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School, Connecticut and killed innocent children, teachers and other members of the school community.
How am I supposed to respond to that?
Yesterday, I was working away on a post about my ongoing frustration with my violin practice but there was this nagging thought at the back of my head: “Can I just keep blogging on about my own life in the aftermath of the horrific Newtown Massacre?”
I don’t think so.
That said, I’m not quite sure how to respond.
What are any of us supposed to say or do when something of this magnitude happens?
I don’t know. Given my own health situation, we are already very conscious that life is short…so very fleeting. I already appreciate my husband, my kids even if we are busy trying to fit a couple of lifetimes into one day.
I’m not a psychologist or a forensic anthropologist so I can’t begin to explain why this has happened, although I would like to suggest that it’s complex and perhaps we will never know. I do hope we will get some serious insights into how to prevent such shootings in future. For me, that includes serious gun control measures but also goes well beyond that. A gun doesn’t pull its own trigger.
I live in Australia. This event is well and truly beyond the scope of my backyard. I’ve never been to America and I don’t know what it means to be American. Yet, whether we like it or not, we do live in a small world and whatever happens “over there”, also appears in our homes at least on our TV. We are part of a global village.
I care. I care very much.
There is one element of this tragedy that really hits home. My daughter is also 6 years old like many of the children caught up in this dreadful massacre… both those who lost their young lives and also those who have somehow survived.
I haven’t even thought about what if it had been my daughter. It hasn’t even crossed my mind that something that awful could ever happen at our school. Not because our school is any better than any other school but because our school is like an extension of our family home. I help out with the reading and do the publicity for the school, a role which includes photographing the kids. I am on a pretty friendly basis with a number of teachers at the school and they have been very supportive regarding my health issues and just loving and caring for my kids and all the kids at the school. It’s not a perfect place but it’s certainly special!
I gather this is how most families perceive their school and that contributes to our overall outrage.
Having a six year old daughter, I wanted to honour those children who lost their young lives and those who survived by sharing some insights into the world of a six year old. I can’t really say I always know what makes them tick but here are some observations.
Six year olds have such a precious view of the world. They really feel so grown up but are still pretty small and still need a chair or stool to reach the taps or get things down. They still believe in pretend and are only just stepping out into the world. Their explanations for how and why things happen can really be quite amusing.
Having your teeth fall out has to be one of the most important things for a six year old. My daughter is currently missing her two front teeth and she has another wobbly tooth. Last week she announced: “I’ve lost 5 teeth in one year. That must be a world record!!” When I meet up with her friends, they also show me their wobbly teeth and tell me how many teeth they have lost. There’s lots of wiggling, wobbling and lots of gappy smiles and giggles. You don’t want to be the last kid to lose your first tooth.
Having your teeth fall out, goes hand in hand with the tooth fairy. There are many discussions about how much money the tooth fairy has left behind. There is still faith in the tooth fairy although perhaps if there’s an older sibling, there can be a bit of doubt. My friend tells her kids: “you have to believe to receive” and I will borrow that one when the time comes. My daughter refused to put her first two teeth out for the tooth fairy because she wanted to keep them. By the time tooth number 3 fell out, she was ready to part with it and wanted the money. She also wanted to catch the tooth fairy so she could learn how to fly. She also told stories about how she woke up with special fairy dust on her hands.
Isn’t the world of a six year old amazing?!!
The other thing that stands out about six year olds is just how much they adore their teachers. My daughter has been home from school sick and literally cried for her teacher. Last weekend, it turned out that her teacher was coincidentally attending her end of year dance concert and she was over the moon. The teacher was just as excited too and was looking forward to seeing her dance. If we ever see one of the teachers down at our local shops after school, it’s like seeing Elvis or Justin Bieber. The kids are so excited!!
My daughter is still scared of the dark and asks me about monsters living under the bed. I tell her that there’s no room for monsters under her bed with all her Barbies stashed under there but she is not convinced.
She still believes in Santa and asked me yesterday whether Santa lives in an igloo because he lives at the North Pole. We agreed that he lived inside a gingerbread house like the witch in Hansel and Gretel. She had no trouble accepting that and she’s a fairly discerning character.
She also believes Santa can get her anything she wants pretty much because his elves will make it. She is currently desperate for a DS (an electronic game). I have told her that they are expensive but she says that’s fine because Santa can get it. I don’t have to pay for it. We have tried to tell her that Santa is very old and not good with technology but then she thought of the elves. She has an answer for everything.
Being six is also a fickle world where friends can be a bit fragile. You can be BFFs one day and then there’s the chant of “you’re not my friend”. Six year olds can become very emotional.
It also seems to be a year of transition from being a pre-schooler into a school kid. Once loved Dora, is now considered babyish but t-shirts with pictures on them are still preferred fashion. Gaudy glitter and sparkle fashions are also cool and pink and purple are still the favourite colours with the girls.
Six year olds, at least the six year old girls I know, all seem to love drawing rainbows. I have some beautiful rainbow drawings both my children have done on my fridge to remind me of the beauty of the world when I’m having a hard day.
There is also a naivety there. A few weeks ago when we were baking together, my daughter ate some Self-Raising flour and then asked me if she was getting taller. She had interpreted the name on the flour quite literally. Like most kids, she is wanting to grow up way too fast.
Needing to fit in and conform also seem to be important (at least, for our daughter). When we had our dog clipped recently, she didn’t want me bringing the dog to school because she’d be teased for having such a weird dog. He is a Border Collie and he did look rather weird after his haircut (he went from black and white and fluffy to light grey was all but skinned) but I had to remind her that he is still the same dog, whom she loves.
As cute as six year olds might be, they also have plenty of attitude. We sometimes call our daughter “Princess” and it’s not a compliment. She can expect to have everything done for her, waited on hand and foot. She likes to get me to carry her school bag and her brother to run errands for her and she usually forgets to feed the dog. When I asked madam to put her leotard in the washing basket, she said to me: “I am not your slave!” I was not impressed.
Fighting with her brother also seems to be a favourite pastime, although they also play very well together too.
This is the world Adam Lanza destroyed when he took the lives of those innocent children, their teachers and other members of their school community.
It is important that we, as citizens of our global village, acknowledge and respect that. That we don’t just ignore what has happened because it’s too hard. We must continue to fight for a world that is free of violence and hate and make our world a safe and loving place for all people. That fight begins with each and every one of us as individuals and is acted out each and every day in how we react to people and situations. If we each followed the golden rule and treated others as we would like to be treated maybe kindness would someday rule the world.
I will leave you with the words of AA Milne:
Now We Are Six
When I was one I had just begun
When I was two I was nearly new
When I was three I was hardly me
When I was four I was not much more
When I was five I was just alive
But now I am six, I’m as clever as clever;
So I think I’ll be six now for ever and ever.
Love & God Bless,