Monday, January 20, 2014

Parents Take Care (Part 1)

 A little more than a year after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown Connecticut a local television station in St. Louis sent a reporter to a suburban high school under the guise of a story on school safety. The reporter entered unimpeded. The high school attempted to confirm the reporter's identity but the station refused to confirm or deny this for the administrators. The school went on immediate lock down. This ratings grab drastically missed the lessons learned at Sandy Hook. December 2012 had been a hard year's end for the nation. It had been an equally hard time for parents. I wrote these words shortly after the news onslaught that came out of New England following the events that transpired on December 14, 2012.

The tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School has provided us with horrors born of a tormented mind. There has been graphic reporting of the carnage carried out on kindergartners, and we've been witness to interviews with 5 year olds. There have been petitions to pray for the families of Newtown with constant reminders of how much of the reporting we should allow our young children to view.

Lost in all the media hysteria is any admonition to parents to look after their own psychological and physical well being. Those of us in parental recover often return to the analogy of the adult with small children on a jetliner experiencing extreme turbulence and loss in cabin pressure. When the masks drop we are instructed to first attend to ourselves, then to our children. This is equally important as our nation collectively heals this gaping wound that has been torn through us as we strive to help our children make sense of a senseless occurrence. 

Nothing will improve, nothing will be healed until adults put aside anger, finger pointing shock and outrage to turn a gentler eye to the epidemic of at-risk kids in our nation. What transpired in Newtown was a worst-case tragedy played out by a boy whose mental illness was clearly not addressed. Our at-risk kids often turn to addiction, violence, suicide or isolation. Until we perceive mental illness as a disease rather than a character flaw, or family or social embarrassment these types of occurrences are likely to be repeated - see Sparks Nevada October 2013, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania January 2014

These results will manifest in numerous forms and will go largely unreported by the media as preteens and teens turn to alcohol and drugs to self medicate, or become so self loathing that they end their own lives or the lives of others.

Anger Manifested

I attempt to exercise at least three times a week. I have mixed success achieving this goal. I typically end each session with 30 to 45 minutes on an elliptical that kicks my butt as I listen to my own mix of iTunes - currently it's my holiday mix of eclectic and sometimes bizarre and hard to find seasonal pieces. This elliptical is situated in the back row of the aerobic area, behind a row of other less punishing low impact machines that are situated behind those awful treadmills. All this forms a section paralleled by a line of flat screen TVs for the viewing enjoyment of the masochistic members of this fitness club. 

It's a strange irony that the screen in my immediate line of sight has been designated as the Fox News Network screen. I am somewhat left leaning and generally don't watch any more news than I require as I have determined that the news in its current form is BADFORTHESOUL! Although I cannot hear what the talking heads are saying, the words are close captioned and the expressions on the faces of the commentators are often angry and contorted. Not unlike, I concede, CNN, a few screens down television row, with its more left leaning take on the news that is just as unpalatable to this "lefty" as FNN!

One day soon after the December 2012 events, I worked through the hellish first 15 minutes of my 45 minute ordeal and couldn't help but notice the discussion that a panel of pundits was engaged in regarding the carnage at Sandy Hook. What I was able to conclude through the time-delayed subtitles scrawling across the screen was unbridled anger coupled with finger pointing, outrage and innuendos regarding Adam Lanza, his mother and extended family. These experts discussed the amorality of the acts that took place on that Friday morning. (I am certain, at the same time competing commentators at CNN were throwing accusations at the NRA, Republicans and "righties" in general for not locking up EVERY gun in this great nation, along with their owners, as a solution to this problem.)

Then it struck me … 

… to be continued.

… keep coming back