I mailed some packages; the line at the post office was long, but I had a book, and my fellow queuers were all in decent spirits, so that was fine. I caught a bus to Harvard Square, returned a jar of moisturizer I turned out to be allergic to, exchanged a shirt my mother had given me for store credit (and had a nice browse through Anthropologie), and walked home, because it was nice out.
And then I sat down and looked on Twitter and found out about the shootings in Newtown.
I will not recap my emotional process here because I'm sure all of you were feeling about the same. Unthinkable. Horrific.
My daughter wants to be an elementary school teacher.
My wonderful daughter finished editing her arts supplement video on Saturday, and yesterday we submitted all of her applications. All sent off to her top nine schools.
Intended major: Elementary education.
There is a special horror for me in this, a special dread when I see gun nuts screaming that our teachers should be armed and trained. When I see that, I see a refusal to strengthen gun control. I see the insistence that their right to hoard deadly weapons is so precious that twenty first-graders and six teachers/staff are acceptable losses.
That instead of taking guns out of the hands of mass murderers, they want to put a gun in my daughter's hands. Instead of making it harder to acquire assault weapons, instead of working to eliminate mass murder, they want my daughter to murder people.
Elayna has grown up in a post-Columbine world. School shootings have always been a possibility for her. Her school has regular "shelter in place" drills. I see people shocked that kids these days have these drills, and I don't understand that. We have assault weapons in the hands of monsters, and no one will act to limit their "rights" to murder people en masse. We have a school shooting every year, at least. We have had a public mass murder every month this year.
And so yes. We have been training our children what to do if a gunman enters their school.
Instead of working to keep gunmen out of schools.
Despite all this, my daughter wants to be a teacher. Despite knowing on some level for her whole adolescence that nowadays a teacher isn't just a person who teaches, guides, nurtures - a teacher is the person who herds the kids into the closet or bathroom or storage room and keeps them quiet. A teacher is the person between a child and a murderer.
A teacher is the one who gets shot first.
My daughter is playing the odds. Even if we don't reform gun control, there may never be a shooting in her school. She's playing the odds like we all play the odds every day, like we go to the movies after Aurora, like we go to the mall after Clackamas, like we sent our children to school today. My daughter is playing the odds because she loves to teach. She loves working with children. She's a teacher's aide this year for a freshman algebra class, and she's so damn good at it that the teacher will be letting her develop curricula and exercises; she will be occasionally teaching the class herself next semester. Because her teacher knows she wants to be a teacher and is basically giving her a pre-college internship. She is gentle and clever and empathetic and brilliant and she will be a damn fine teacher.
In the days and weeks ahead, as we talk about gun control, as we talk about arming our teachers to the teeth, this is what I want you to know: this is not a hypothetical. This is a person you know. Some of you have known Elayna since infancy; some for just the ten years I've had an LJ; some of you are barely aware of her.
When we talk about teachers, we are talking about my daughter. You remember that.