cross posted at DadBloggers:
Before I actually was a father, I pictured myself rough housing, throwing the kids in the air. I pictured my wife cringing as I threw them a little too high. I thought my wife would be the one who would hover as they took their first steps. Turns out my wife doesn't cringe so much when we're rough housing. She'll get a bemused look on her face from time to time, but that's about the limit. And when BigBrother started walking, it was me who was bent over walking around with him to make sure he didn't fall.
When we let BigBrother out of our direct control for the first time as we sent him to pre-school (not counting him being baby-sat by grandparents), it was me who was anxious. What is he gonna do for 3 hours? How will we know? What happens if there is some kind of incident and we don't know who did what? What happens if he gets hurt. DearWife was much more calm.
It's surprising how much of a motivating factor fear can be. But when I was growing up (I'm entering grumpy old man territory here I know), it was seemingly simpler. I grew up in a town of 10,000. 200 kids in my graduating class. Gangs were something you saw on Hill Street Blues. You'd never really hear about child abductions other than your parents telling you not to accept candy from strangers. Today, I think there is a posted armed guard at my old HS. Neighboring schools have metal detectors so I hear.
Now, you can't turn on network television without hearing about something horrible. One of those things hit home for me last week. I grew up 5 minutes away from NIU. My dad taught there. I went to school there. Met my wife there. I still know a lot of people in town. So it was horrifying watching video with aerial shots of Cole Hall. A dozen ambulances were needed to help care for the gun shot victims. It was almost surreal- even though I am 17 years removed from being a student. In a flash, I remembered watching "Annie Hall" with DearWife in that auditorium. I remembered a cute sorority girl flirting with me to let her cheat off of me on the COBOL final (I didn't let her).
I tried to think of sitting in the front row watching some kid come out of the stage with a shotgun pointed at me. Then, I tried to picture what it would be like if that gun was pointed at one of my kids. I can't really even consider that right now. My throat is tightening up just thinking of that. Yes, that's a long way off, but the thing I keep coming back to is that there is really no way to stop some random looney from doing this. Have we really made strides since Columbine?
Predictably, there have been complaints that the gun laws are too lax. And in an odd coincidence (or maybe it's not a coincidence), the nut job got his guns from the same place that the VA Tech guy got his. There has been talk of more laws, tighter restrictions. Even the Illinois Rifle Association supports some of them. That's all well and good. I'm sure that will help keep guns out of 'bad' people's hands. But the problem of people killing students is not a gun problem. It's not a problem with lack of security. It's not a problem of lack of mental health support.
The problem is one of people not really participating in society. Not feeling like they belong. When people don't feel connected to other people, they don't feel bound to any moral or legal system. They have nothing to lose. When someone is so totally disenfranchised, whether that is because of mental imbalance or any other reason, you can't really control what they're going to do. And you won't be able to predict it either.
My fear is that this is going to get worse. My fear is that there really is no good solution. And I'm honestly very afraid for my kids.