It SUCKS That I Have To Teach My Kids How To Hide From A Shooter

Photo: Adrees Latif | Reuters
Child at Orlando Vigil

The other day I was working on my laptop in the living room while my kids were playing quietly in their room. It was a normal day. 

Suddenly I heard 5 gunshots in the field behind my house. They weren't consecutive. They weren't firecrackers or BB-guns. There was hesitation in between a few of the shots.

They were REAL gunshots. It was the same sound I heard in the Snapchat videos of the Pulse Orlando shooting they were posting all over the news. The deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history happened just 8 miles down the road not more than a couple days before.

I ran to my kids room, shaking in terror thinking someone was going to come in my house shooting. I threw them in the bathroom, whispered for them to be absolutely quiet and to lay in the tub and I locked the door, leaving them in there alone. They didn't say a peep. They knew to listen (which was extremely relieving for me as I thought about it later on).

I scrambled around the house trying to check the door and window locks without moving the curtains. I sent a chat from my laptop to my coworkers saying someone was shooting outside my house.

I couldn't find my phone.

After those terrifying few seconds, the shooting was done. My kids stayed silent, alone in the bathroom for ten full minutes before I felt "safe enough" to let them out and tell them everything was going to be OK.

Per my coworkers begging, I found my phone and I called 9-1-1. Drive-by shooting directly behind my house. Some dumb-ass guys shooting REAL guns in the air outside their car windows.

Police were on it, said the 9-1-1 operator.

Did I overreact? HELL no.

It's absolutely terrifying and infuriating that these days, while I'm sitting peacefully in my home (or people are dancing peacefully in a club) that I HAVE to hide my children.

It's TERRIFYING that my CHILDREN have drills at school to practice hiding properly in the bathroom stalls — just in case someone comes to try to murder them.

It breaks my heart in ways I cannot express that I had to sit my kids down after this episode to tell them WHY they had to be quiet.

"Was it a tornado warning, mommy?"

No. I had to tell them that a man just a few days before killed dozens of beautiful people because they LOVED someone he didn't agree with.

I had to explain to my kids that these things happen EVERY. FUCKING. DAY. Down the STREET.

It's NOT OK.

I don't live in a "bad" neighborhood. It's not a "bad" world. And I honestly and whole-heartedly DON'T believe that there are BAD people.

No. There are just people that don't try to understand. People that hurt people because THEY are hurting.

I hate that my innocent, beautiful, gorgeous children who could choose to love ANYONE they want when they grow older HAVE to understand — at 7 and 5 years old — that HATE exists. And that THEY must play a part in changing that.

That what they do NOW — even as little kids going to school, making friends and just growing up — MATTERS. I just want my kids to be able to be kids.

I want to not have to schedule play dates after screening the parents and making sure they aren't on any "offender" lists for my kids to have friends during the summer. I want them to be able to make brownies for the stranger family that just moved in down the street, knock on their door and ask "do you have any kids we can play with?" without me stopping them because "That's not how it works these days".

What if they were playing in my back yard instead of watching TV when those bullets shot into the air and landed who knows where?

We need to help our kids be ABLE to be kids. We need to feel SAFE in our homes.

We need to be able to disagree and be OK with that.

And it really does start with YOU. What you say. What you do. How you choose to love other people. All that MATTERS. 

So do something about it.