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17 Minute Protest?

There has to be a better way.

It’s hard, you know, being a parent. You have to be there, always, even when you yourself want to run and hide. You have to be the protector, the rock, the defender. You have to always be strong even when you feel weak. No matter what. It’s hard. And the current events in our world don’t make it any easier.

On February 14, 2018, 17 people died in a school shooting. It wasn’t the first, it likely won’t be the last. Students and teachers died, some while trying to protect others. They were heroes, and they are gone.

Last week, eight days after this horrible act, my child’s school received a vague voicemail urging school to close. No one knows who left it or if it was a threat. The school did not close, but I picked up my kid and brought her home, as did several other parents.

Why? Why do I have to worry about my daughter, about your daughter or son, not being safe in a place we were once taught was a safe place? Within a 45 minute drive from my home, at least four schools had hoax threats. Who in their right mind thinks this is a good idea?

Now, I see posts on social media to walk out of school for 17 minutes on March 14. But why? To be a part of history? Ok, but what’s that going to do besides disrupt the school day? Why not do something more productive? Something helpful for others?

I responded to the friend who posted the protest on Facebook. I prefer my kid's day not be disrupted by a 17 minute “protest.” She said she’s surprised I don’t get the point of it. And maybe I don’t. What is she standing up for though? That she’s not afraid? That the government needs to make changes? The government doesn’t give a shit about her or any of us. If they did then they would actually listen to us. And she IS afraid! They all are. She does her best to show she’s not, I think all the kids do. Shit, I’M afraid! I’m afraid that some kid who was bullied or one of the bullies will snap and start something in her school. I live in an area with many hunters thus many guns. It scares the shit out of me. I honestly don’t know what this particular 17 minutes is going to do.

I’m afraid. I’m terrified. Not just for my kids safety, but for your kids safety. For my safety. For your safety. For the safety of the strangers I see daily. For the safety of the cashier at the grocery store, or at the mall. But I think there are better ways to spend your 17 minutes. I saw someone post #whatsyour17.

What a wonderful little post. It made far more sense to me than walking out of class for 17 minutes. It’s 17 acts of kindness, at least that’s basically what it boils down to. And to me, that’s what our world needs. We need to be kinder to each other. Perhaps if someone showed kindness to all those school shooters, they would not have acted out in such a way that took so many lives.

I try to teach my kid to see all sides of every situation. It’s not easy. It really isn’t. The hardest thing we can do is walk in another’s shoes or see through their eyes. But we have to try. Every moment can be told by multiple people in multiple ways with different events leading to that moment. The kid you make fun of today, you don’t know what their home life is like. You don’t know what they suffer internally. You can’t possibly understand it because you aren’t them.

You have to try. You need to show empathy. You need to try to put yourself in their shoes and understand how they feel by thinking how it would make you feel if someone was that mean to you. It’s not easy. I know it’s not. But it’s not easy trying to explain to my child what’s happening in this world either. You have to show them kindness. You have to show them you care.

I feel pain. Not just my own, but others' as well. I can feel when someone’s heart aches. I can feel someone’s confusion or frustration. Your anxiety makes my anxiety ten times worse. I feel it. And I want nothing more to fix it. I will listen to you. I will help you try to figure out why you feel the way you do. I will try to help you find a coping mechanism that works for you. Talk to me, please. But don’t put my baby in danger. Or anyone else’s baby.

I can’t begin to understand what happening in your world, but I’ll do my damndest to try.

Please, before you act in a negative way, try to talk to someone. Anyone. Maybe they will show you the kindness we all deserve. Maybe instead of being their 17, you’ll be their 18, or 19, or 120.

All you need is love, right?

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