Fighting with A Teen-ager in the Age of Mass Shootings

I wrote some words this week and ended up mailing them to politicians. I’m posting them here, too:

It’s Monday morning and my daughter just huffed off to school like she was looking to star in a remake of The Excorcist. She hissed something at me, followed by an icy good-bye and a door-slam. It’s the typical, beginning-of-the-week stuff that happens when teen-agers are forced to wake at 6:30 a.m. Her jeans from last year didn’t fit anymore, which seemed to be my fault. She couldn’t find her library book, which was my fault, too. She didn’t get enough sleep, the oatmeal was runny, she was mad, she was tired, she was late.

In my head, for the rest of the morning, all I can hear is the slam of that door. If we lived in different times, maybe I’d hear something else: The chirping of birds or the cats fighting in the bedroom because apparently they have a hard time with Monday mornings, too.

But we  live in these times. Kids go to school and they don’t come home. And even before I was a mom, I was an obsessive worrier. So I think: What if someone walks into school with a gun? What if the last words I hear from my daughter are boiled in anger, punctuated by that door slam?  

I fight back the urge to chase her to school in my pajamas. Embarrassing her in front of her friends would be my fault, too, of course. Yet if something really does happen, as it did in two more schools this week, I won’t forgive myself.

I think about that Brady Bunch episode — the one where Mike teaches us you should never go to bed angry. That’s always been a rule in our house. We never made a rule about Monday mornings.

Late-morning, I get a text. “I’m sorry.”

I text back. “I love you.”

I count the hours until school is over, and we can replace written words with real ones.

While I’m counting, I write down these words. I’m not sure where to send them; nobody seems to listen anymore. We’re all so full of words, on both sides, and we blow them away like dandelion fluff. Nothing grows. Not a conversation. Not a fuzzy, yellow flower. Not a change.

I know there are people out there trying to do something about gun violence and anger in our country. Maybe you’re one of them. You should be. I should be.

Because the shootings haven’t slowed or stopped. They have left behind dead and survivors and families and friends and responders and strangers who are drowning in grief. They have woven their way into the denim fabric of our society: We can no longer have simple arguments with our teenagers without hearing a gun blast in a door slam.

We have to fix this thing. We have to.

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2 Responses to Fighting with A Teen-ager in the Age of Mass Shootings

  1. madelyn says:

    Thanks, Tabatha. Admittedly, I am having a hard time listening to some of the suggestions myself these days. But I do think we all ultimately want the same thing. Which is a place to start.

  2. Tabatha says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Madelyn. “We’re all so full of words, on both sides, and we blow them away like dandelion fluff. Nothing grows. Not a conversation. Not a fuzzy, yellow flower. Not a change.” Wouldn’t conversations be nice? Something thoughtful, understanding that we are all on the same side of not wanting these shootings to happen.