My son is only 2.5 years old. I don't have to say anything to him about what happened Friday in Connecticut. He is at an enviable stage in his life where his world is entirely consumed by food, sleep, and trucks. I don't have to say anything to him right now and really I shouldn't say anything either.
But as a parent, I want to tell him that there are people in this world who are angry and there are people in this world who are not well. I want to tell him that sometimes there are people who are both and sometimes those people do terrible things. I want to tell him that I will always do whatever I can to protect him and to be with him and to love him. And I want to tell him these things while hugging him.
As a teacher, I want to tell him that things don't have to be this way. That we are fortunate enough to live in a country where we can speak up. We are fortunate enough to work hard to change things. We can contact people in charge and encourage action. I want to tell him to take action and convince others to join him. I want to tell him he can help in our community and take care of those who need our help. He can continue to strive to do better and take part in our society to make it do better too. And I want to tell him these things while hugging him.
As a Jewish parent, I want to tell him that we are part of a tradition that encourages us to help each other out. Everyday we can help someone out. Everyday we can treat someone kindly. Everyday we can be partners in creation and peace. Everyday we can and we must do these things. I want to tell him that it is our job in this world to make it a better place. I want to tell him that we start by taking responsibility for our own actions and we continue by helping each other improve. I want to tell him that while someone who takes a life destroys the entire world; but at the same time, someone who saves a life, saves the entire world. And I want to tell him these things while hugging them.
And as a parent, as a teacher, as a Jew, I know that I'm going to think all of these things and do what it takes to make things better. I'm going to protect my son. I'm going to encourage my students to treat each other well and to take action by contacting their officials and encouraging their peers to work together. I'm going to work to make the world a better place and to help anyone I am able to help.
And I'm going to hug my son. Because even though I can't tell what I want to say yet, I can at least do that. And maybe I can convey all those feelings through that hug...