Saturday, November 02, 2019

Tragedy

An email was sent out from Rachel's school yesterday morning informing parents that a student at her school "was killed last night" and that they had extra support staff on hand. But that was all the information they sent out, which wasn't really enough information to calm my nerves. In fact, it was just the right amount of information (ie. not enough) to pique my nerves!

There was nothing about it in the news that I (or Andrew) could find.

So we went along our days, wondering what happened, wondering how this would effect Rachel. I texted her in the morning just before school would have been in session, but she didn't answer. She did, however, text me shortly after school let out. When I heard my phone buzz I immediately ran to it to see who it was and was glad it was her.

"Our bus driver got everybody cookies!" she informed me.

"So fun!" I said. "You'll definitely have to make them a thank you card!"

And that was it until she got home.

"How was school?" I asked her at the doorway.

"Fiiiiine," she answered, suspicious of my peppy-mom routine (I might be a mother but I am not typically ver peppy; I'm more of an "Oh, you're home! What time is it even?" mom than a waiting-for-you-at-the-door-with-a-smile mom).

"Anything...weird...happen today?"

"No."

"Nothing at all. Like, you didn't hear anything about anything or..."


"Oh," she said, picking up what I was putting down. "I heard some kids talking about a funeral but I...don't know, like...anything."

"Cool, cool, cool. Just, you know, wondering," you know, casually, as one does.

"What...happened?"

I told her everything I knew, which was...pretty much nothing. She asked to see the email sent out by the school.

"Yeah, that email...raises a lot more questions than it manages to answer," she summarized.

"Right?!" I agreed.

Then she and I bustled to get dinner inside everyone and everyone inside of their costumes and I sent the kids out trick-or-treating alone. I stayed home to hand out candy because Andrew had to work late. But I was also nervous to send the kids out alone, not because I'm particularly worried about them being kidnapped but because I know firsthand that taking five kids out trick-or-treating is an exhausting ordeal and I wasn't sure it was really fair to saddle all that on Rachel.

Plus, then I found the news article about the kid in her school who "was killed."

And then I didn't really feel like sitting in my lonely house anymore (because not only were my kids out roaming the neighbourhood by themselves—we had no trick-or-treaters come to our door).

Plus, I'd made a deal with the kids that they could do our cul-de-sac and the next cul-de-sac on their own but that I'd come with them when they ventured farther from home/when it was darker.

Plus, apparently a house in the other cul-de-sac had a scary skeleton (which we'd seen on one of our walks) that blew smoke at you when you walked by (which we had not seen on our walk) and it scared my little ones so badly that I could hear their screaming from inside my house (most definitely it was Zoë screaming at the top of her lungs (I have precisely 0% concern that she'll ever be kidnapped without my knowing about it)) and decided I should probably, like, not make Rachel deal with that gem all evening.

Also, I'd forgotten to even send them out with a cellphone so I couldn't be a stalker-mom and check their location on the GPS and it was taking them forever to finish the agreed-upon route and I was starting to get a teensy bit worried.

Sitting in a lonely house dressed as a witch while reading about a grisly death of your child's peer tends to send you up a few notches on the paranoia scale.

So I set a bowl of candy on our front porch (that would remain untouched) and set out to find my kids. They were all fine, of course. Some were annoyed with their younger siblings. Some were shaking in their boots from fright. Some were over the moon about their candy. All of them were already complaining about the cold.

"Can you push the stroller now, Mom?" Rachel asked.

"Sure," I said, taking over Alexander-responsibility.

"Hey, I found out what happened to the kid at your school," I told her.

"What?" she asked.

I pulled out my phone and let her read the article for herself.

"Why didn't they just tell everyone that instead of making everyone wonder all day long?"

Honestly, I don't know. But I suppose I kind of just did it to you, dear reader. I guess it's the kind of thing you don't want to speak aloud because saying it somehow makes it true and every time it's spoken it gets truer and truer. Before you speak it, you can deny it, at least a little bit.

So, here's the thing: a couple of boys in her school were fooling around with some guns, and I bet you can already guess the rest of the story. One of them shot the other one—completely by accident. He panicked—because he'd just shot his best friend—and rushed out to find a neighbour that he knew was a nurse. She came and administered first aid and CPR until the ambulance came, but the boy who was shot ended up dying. The boy who did the shooting was—get this—arrested.

"I don't understand what they're charging him with," Rachel said.

"Reckless behaviour," I said.

"But isn't that, like, charging him for being a kid?"

I have to say, I agree with her. I think the whole situation is a tragedy. I think it's a tragedy that the boys were playing with guns. I think it's a tragedy that one accidentally discharged. I think it's a tragedy that one boy died. I think it's a tragedy that the other boy is being charged in his death.

I get that the behaviour was reckless. I agree that such behaviour should be severely frowned upon...

But isn't this boy suffering enough?! He accidentally shot his best friend and his best friend died because of him. That is a huge thing to have to wrestle with for the rest of your life.

He was a dumb kid. But we have to try to make him out to be a criminal, too?!

And what, I ask, of the gun owner? Shouldn't they be implicated in this? Shouldn't they be expected to keep a weapon of that nature completely inaccessible to children (even if they are teenagers on the road to adulthood they aren't adults)?

Somehow we have such a gun-worshiping culture that those questions haven't even come into play in this case (or in several other similar situations that one of the news stories I read referenced)—because guns don't kill people, you know, people kill people. And that's totally true, except that guns do kill people. If those boys hadn't had guns to play around with, this mess wouldn't exist.

When juveniles gain access to drugs or alcohol, the adults who provided the substances are very condemned by society. Why is it not the same with guns?

(And please don't even mention knives to me; I know those are dangerous, too, but knives don't accidentally discharge as often as guns do and they have several other uses besides accidentally (or otherwise) killing (or maiming or threatening) people (or animals)).

Anyway, it's been a sad couple of days at Rachel's school and I can't even imagine what the families of those poor boys are going through. It's all around an awful situation.

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