Wednesday, March 14, 2018
The students walking out of school to protest gun violence...and those who aren't
Sabrina's school recently sent an email about this morning's walkout by students across America, to protest gun violence. The school wanted all students interested in participating to join in, and reassured parents that the 17-minute walk—to honor the 17 students and adults who were massacred at Marjory Stone Douglas H.S. in Parkland, Florida—would be in a secure location.
I didn't think twice about the fact that Max's school wasn't participating until last night, when Sabrina shared a speech that she and three other students had written, which they would be giving to the rest of their class. She wrote about about the importance of knowing what could be done to help prevent gun violence, so that change could take place and students could stay out of danger. I teared up as I read it, and I felt proud of her for joining in.
I thought of Max. I hadn't seen anything from his school about participating in the walkout. But then, Dave and I hadn't discussed Parkland with Max, or the Las Vegas shooting. And perhaps the school hadn't done the same with its students for the same reason we had.
Max's cognition is coming along. He does have an understanding of what death means. But he does not yet know or understand guns or violence. When Max didn't bring Parkland up—he doesn't watch the news, it's not something he'd discuss with friends—Dave and I made the judgment call not to discuss it with him.
I've read articles about sharing age-appropriate information about school shootings with children. This is on my list of questions to discuss with Max's neurologist, and the school psychologist. It is hard to know what age, developmentally, Max is at. He has a high amount of emotional intelligence, but grasping concepts like guns and people hurting students seem beyond his cognition. We did not want to alarm him. Sabrina has brought it up, and we've had a series of discussions about safety at her school.
Not discussing this with Max has weighed on me: I do not want him growing up in a hothouse. Are we underestimating him? I'm going to see what happens tonight, when we talk with Sabrina about what she did at school today. Perhaps Max will ask questions, and they could lead to some sort of baseline discussion.
I owe it to Max to keep thinking on this.
I owe it to the Parkland 17, too.