If you’re a parent of a child older than two or three, you’re probably familiar with the Toddler Inquisition. The never-ending barrage of “whys” that get asked on a daily basis can feel overwhelming. At least, it did for me.
I tried to deflect them with a “Why do you think?” which had a 50% success rate. The other half of the time, I either fell in to the rabbit hole until I felt like I was about to burst, or tried to answer with a solution so complex, it nipped the line of questioning in the bud.
But sometimes, there just isn’t a right way to answer Why?
Today’s shooting incident in DC is one of those times. As I type this, details are still fuzzy. Suspects are still at large. People are dead and injured.
It seems like once every couple of months, tragedy strikes, and lately at the hand or hands of someone carrying a loaded gun.
Throw your flames my way, but it just seems that gun advocates have shot themselves in the foot, so to speak. There seems to be no answer in sight to how our country will handle this predicament. And yet, the senseless acts of murder continue.
Every time this happens, I find myself regressing to toddlerhood.
Why did this person or those people spiral in to a rage so deep and angry that they couldn’t find their way out? Why resort to violence? Why can’t we all just get along?
I’m now a mother during a time where lockdown drills are the norm, where I have to have discussions with my child about what to do if encountered by someone with a weapon.
I shouldn’t have to have this type of conversation with my kids. And I’m sick of it.
I know this is an isolated incident. That for every act of inhumanity, there are a million kind and gracious acts that cancel the evil ones out. I just need to hold on to that thought, because otherwise, I’m tempted to whisk my family to a remote island somewhere and never face the harsh reality of our civilization again.
Last week, as we were driving home from school, we were forced to pull over by a band of police cars in hot pursuit. And then minutes later, another wave of police cars, speeding by, sirens blaring, lights flashing in desperation.
It was fun to speculate where they were going. What was the big emergency? Why were they in such a hurry?
Why. There’s that question again.
That night in the news, I discovered that a man had been seen wielding a gun in to a wooded area, mere blocks from a playground, less than a half a mile from my kids’ school. It turns out he sneaked in to those woods to attempt suicide, but his plans were thwarted.
Though we tried to shield my seven year-old from the story, he eventually heard about it. “Why?” he asked. “Why would someone want to kill himself?
I didn’t feel equipped to answer, but I needed to. If only I could have remembered what those helpful parenting sites had suggested about explaining tragedy and violence to children.
Instead, I explained as best as I knew how. That sometimes people feel hurt or sad or lonely and feel they can’t survive another day feeling the horrible way that they do. That some people feel angry or wronged or feel they have no alternative then to seek violence, to makes others feel as badly as they do. But assured him that these people are the exception to the rule. That good people are all around him.
“But why would he do that?” he asked again. Looking at me with confused eyes, trying to process this new world, like he did when he was three. Except now there was no deflection. There was no silly answer. There was no “What do you think?”
Why? I don’t know. And I probably never will.