Thursday, February 15, 2018

So Many Things

I've got to start with Florida. Another school shooting.

I called Roy Blunt this morning (his Washington office number is 202-224-5721). I said that I'm calling because I'm so concerned about the shooting and I said that we have to put into place common sense regulation of automatic rifles. I also said that I want to see Senator Blunt stop taking money from the NRA and I'll be watching his campaign donations closely. I think it's immoral to take money from gun lobbyists in light of the mass murders that take place on a regular basis in our country.

I'm from a small town where hunting kicks off the holiday season. I know tons of people who are gun owners. The point is NOT to take away guns (and Obama was never trying to do that, no matter what some people think). The point is to keep guns away from dangerous people and that no one outside of law enforcement needs to own military grade weapons.

And I know the old argument that if you make guns illegal, only criminals will own them. I roll my eyes at this. If you limit accessibility to military grade weapons, we will pay much closer attention to who is buying (or trying to buy) them. We don't need to be pumping out into circulation weapons that make it so easy to kill massive amounts of people.

It is morally wrong not to regulate the accessibility of machines that can kill people--just as we regulate automobiles.

Everyday, my entire family goes to school. Elementary school or university, each one of us shows up to a place that could easily be a target for a shooter who wants to make some kind of sick statement. It is terrifying, and there is no way to twist it around so that I feel safer. Small school, big school, elementary school, high school, rural community, suburban community... It could happen anywhere, and you never think it could happen to you until it does.

* * *

We reined things in for Valentines this year... I got the girls each a Shimmer and Shine activity book and a ring pop and some candy hearts and a book to read. They were THRILLED--mostly with the Shimmer and Shine stuff--but I was delighted with the two books I gave them, which we read last night.

Coco got Love by Matt de la Pena, which is so beautifully written and beautifully illustrated. We read it together and then she wanted to read it, which means she looks at the pictures and makes something up, and then turns the book around to show us the pictures like she is a teacher. (I love it when she reads.) It also made me realize how much We Stories has influenced the way we talk about books and illustrations, because even though ALL I DID was read the book as it is written--a book about how families love each other--when she started reading it, she said, "Some people have darker skin and some people have lighter skin. And she is the mom and he is the dad."

Zuzu got Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson, and it hit me right in the feels. It's also pitched perfectly to where Zuzu is intellectually/socially/developmentally right now. It's a little long for Coco, but Zuzu was completely wrapped up in the story and when I got to the end, she asked me to read it again. And it's short enough that I was happy to oblige.

SPOILER ALERT: It's about a new girl at school and the narrator noticing that the new girl, Maya, doesn't have nice clothes or new shoes. She sits by the narrator, by the narrator won't return her smile. The narrator already has a group of friends, so she says no when Maya wants to play. And she doesn't speak up when others say mean things. Then one day, the teacher talks about kindness and the ripple effect of putting kindness out in the world, and the narrator realizes that she wants to be kind to Maya--but it's too late. Maya's family has moved.

I can't tell you how much I liked that the book didn't have some cutesy wrap up where Maya comes over for a slumber party or something. It felt so real and honest, and Zuzu seemed to understand Maya's loneliness and the narrator's regret at the end of the book. She told me, "I think Maya is poor," and when I asked what she would do, she said that she would be kind. She also thought people were mean to Maya because they were jealous of her, which I thought was interesting. SO COMPLEX!

* * *

I want to wrap this up with three things, but I have a massage scheduled and I need to get out of here. If someone could just massage away the stress of my committee work, my personal anxieties, and that stack of grading I need to get through, that would be amazing.


  1. I come from a rural/hunting area too and NO ONE uses AK-15s to hunt. Those types of guns SHOULD NOT be unregulated.

    I hear you on the grading.

  2. Each Kindness is very powerful, and you're right - it leaves you with a lot to think about.

    I can't really speak more to the mass shooting in Florida. My comments aren't suitable for print.

  3. Every time I read about the actions people are taking to keep fighting against the gun lobby, I feel a little less hopeless. Thanks for sharing what you're doing.

  4. I'm calling my reps next week. So many things about this country are out of control right now, but this particular one terrifies me.

    Separately, could you share more about We Stories? I Googled it, but I'd love to learn more.

  5. We live across the street from E's elementary school, and every time we have one of these shootings, I imagine the day when I will look out my window to see kids fleeing that school.

    I haven't read "Each Kindness," but it sounds similar to "The Hundred Dresses," which is a devastating read for when Zuzu is a little older. I'd like to end on an up note since it's Friday, but that's all I've got.

  6. I think you mean "reined in" rather than "reigned in." I'm guessing it was autocorrect's fault ~ but as an English teacher, you'll want to correct that with your red pen!

    1. You’re totally right! I’m a terrible proofreader and that’s exactly the kind of error I skim right over—thanks!

  7. My cousin retired last year from teaching (special ed) in Red Lake, Minnesota. There was a school shooting there in 2005 -- at the high school, not at her school, but she & her students were on lockdown, and of course, being a small community, she knew everyone involved. Weeks like this past one bring it all back for her. :(

    Have you ever read "Columbine" by Dave Cullen? It's an amazing book, full of insights. I wrote about it on my blog, and he actually commented on my post & corrected a few of my mistaken assumptions. :) I have followed him on social media ever since then. Poor guy, anytime there is a school shooting, all the networks call on him to provide commentary. It's horribly draining for him.

  8. I could not agree more about the need for stricter regulations. My sister died as a result of gun violence, killed by a convicted felon that never should have had a gun in the first place. I believe we don't have strict enough regulations and the ones we have are not well enforced. I've called my reps, written too. I live deep in a red state, the things I see and hear as folks advocate for guns (over people) make me ill. The lives of our children are WAY more important than your right to an AK (that is designed to kill people...not animals). Thanks for speaking up, may we all continue to do so.

  9. I haven't read any blogs in ages. I miss yours. I just borrowed the books you mentioned from the library. Skimmed the WeStories website and desperately wishing the Twin Cities had this program too. Admire, respect and adore your commitment, activism, and heart.