I was the chaperone mom. The one that the teachers could count on to wrangle the 5th and 6th grade boys into the class trip corral so that learning met experience.
On one such excursion, we spent the entire night at the Minnesota Zoo on a sleep over. The girls slept by the fish tank and the boys by the dolphin tank. I spent the night on the boy’s side, since one of the children was my very own unruly smelly boy, who spent more time laughing at fart jokes than washing his hands.
They were a highly excitable group that was delightfully frustrating.
We spent the first day getting a private tour of the Zoo. We were given the opportunity to pet large fish, and hold creepy bugs. I became the cool mom when I not only held a huge tarantula in the palm of my hand, but also held a cockroach the size of my wallet. Girls screaming and boys yelling cool and EWWWW : I became the bomb that day.
After a sleepless night, we were escorted into a room where we had Cheerios, and received a brief look at the itinerary for that day A few minutes later, all the adults were asked to step outside the door for a quick update on some changes in what, the employees of the zoo called, animal contact.
That is when I first heard about the Columbine shootings.
Here’s all I can say:
They’re kids. We’re adults. Our job is to protect them. Our duty is to elevate them up so high that they carry the torch into the next decades; the decades where we are older and they will lead.
We don’t beat them for spilling milk, we don’t tie them outside to trees because they forgot to let the dog out, and we DON’T GO INTO SCHOOLS AND SHOOT THEM.
We are a village, and every child is potentially our own. If one is running into the street, and their mother doesn’t see it, do we look the other way? NO. We yell out Stop! We intervene when some shady character looms around, talking to them and asking questions.
They are our children, even if they are not our’s biologically. Kahill Gibran said this:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.
We don’t harm them.
We don’t shoot at them.
We protect them.
We keep them safe.
We make sure they have food, clothing, warmth, health care and love.
I really don’t care what your problem is, and I don’t care about your past:
YOU DON’T HURT A CHILD.