The End of the Innocence

In Family, Life, Life Lessons on December 14, 2012 at 3:56 pm

Sandy Hook Elementary

“It was the best of times…it was the worst of times.”

Today started off on a high note.  My little one was excited that we were invited to her first grade class to help build gingerbread houses.  While we were helping her with her gingerbread house, my wife and I whispered and laughed to ourselves at how rundown our house looked compared to others in the class.

I sang the lyrics to a song that we both like in her ear, and we laughed some more.  The song is called “The Crazy Ones.”  In the song it says “we march to the beat of a different drum.”  While our gingerbread house didn’t look good in the traditional sense, I was proud of my little one’s originality.

She didn’t compare her house to others, and didn’t seem to care that ours was messy looking.  All she cared about was having fun and eating candy.  In a perfect world, that’s about all kids her age should care about.

Tragically, today proved that innocence is not guaranteed for kids of any age.

I brought my daughter home from school early after the gingerbread decorating was done.  She was up in her room when my phone rang.  It was my father-in-law, obviously distraught as he told me about the senseless shooting that happened this morning at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.  He was warning me not to turn on the news in front of the kids.

My heart sank as we spoke.  As soon as we hung up, I went right upstairs to hug and kiss my little girl and tell her that I loved her.  We’re always very affectionate, so she thought nothing of it, but inside, I was still trying to wrap my head around this devastating news.

For the past few days, one of my daughter’s front teeth has been hanging by a thread, but it didn’t seem ready to come out yet.  Once I heard this news, I was hoping that she would just leave it alone because I didn’t want the loss of her first front tooth to come on the same day of the Sandy Hook tragedy.  But it wasn’t meant to be.  As I was watching the news, she came to the top of the stairs with blood dripping from her mouth.

I had no choice but to pull the tooth, and comfort her as she cried hysterically at the sight of the blood.  I held her tight and assured her that everything was going to be okay.  And it will be, at least as far as the tooth is concerned, but after seeing the news today, it’s hard for me to believe that everything will actually be okay.

The world is a fucked up place nowadays.  We lost our innocence as a nation on 9/11/01, and we’ve seen more school shootings than any of us ever thought possible.  But the shooting of little, innocent, elementary school kids goes beyond anything that our minds can comprehend.  The last safe haven that we had no longer exists, and this is truly the end of the innocence.

I keep thinking about all of the joy that I experienced today with fellow parents decorating gingerbread houses with our first graders.  Everyone was happy, smiling, content in our little corner of the world.  I can’t even imagine what would possess anyone to stare into the eyes of all of those innocent faces, point a gun at them and pull the trigger. I’m glad that the shooter is dead, but I wish that he would have killed himself before walking into an elementary school with an assault rifle in his hands and malice in his heart.

I pray for the parents of those who inexplicably lost their child today in this tragedy.  Their worlds will never be the same.  Quite frankly, none of us will ever be the same either.

  1. Don’t you think your daughter losing her tooth was a way to distract you from your sadness. For one very brief moment you could see her joy and have it far outweigh your heavy heart. Seth and Doug have a date to see The Hobbit tonight. I wonder how many Dads had that same plan? It’s cold out, but Sara wanted to “drive” the van, so here I sit in the driveway while she is wearing her winter coat so she can have some fun. I’m glad she doesn’t know there is nothing I’d say no to today…or we’d be at the park in the dark sliding on slides with icy slush on them.
    No, none of us will ever be the same. Just as the original tragedy that introduced you to me, this tragedy will bring good people closer.

    • I did everything that I could to shelter my kids from the day’s events, Beth, but the day was very hard. We took them out and did something special, but I couldn’t stop thinking about what happened. I’m thankful that I got to spend quality time with them today, but I am saddened that so many parents out there will never get that chance again. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I really do appreciate hearing your personal story.

  2. Your story is amazing. It brought tears to my eyes. I have a 5 year old who just started kindergarten this year and reading your blog you took the words right out of my mouth. I’m so afraid of her loosing her innocents now. Although I knew the time would come for her to gain independence…her innocence should never be lost…no child’s should….

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts Tanya. My little one is 6, and I want to have her keep her innocence for as long as possible. Although my older child knows what happened in Newtown, CT, we decided not to share it with our first grader. We’re all in this together as parents.

  3. […] reminded that the Super Bowl is merely a game in the scheme of things as we watched the kids from Sandy Hook Elementary School sing “America the Beautiful” with Jennifer Hudson of American Idol […]

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