As I tried to get him to leave for school, Jose and his mommy were firmly engaged in their normal morning back and forth verbal game of “I love you” “I love you more,” “No, I love you more,” “No I love you the most-est,” Uh huh, I do, I do, I do!”
“Come on!” I barked. “We don’t want to be late. Compete for the best love war later!” So off we went me and Jose, my 5-year-old boy, making the short block and a half walk to his school right down the road, within eyesight of our back door.
Jose loves to sing. And he loves to make up his own songs. The sun was shining, and there was skip in his step as he randomly broke into song;
“It’s a beautiful day
It’s a beautiful day
Hey, I said,
It’s a beautiful day
The birds are singing
The sun is shining
It’s a beautiful day
The wind in our faces
The sidewalk beneath us
And just you and me
It’s a beautiful day
It’s a beautiful day”
Yep, those are the kinds of songs our overly happy five-year-old makes-up while skipping to school every morning and forcing me to join in his daily song and dance. I am quite sure I look totally ridiculous to everyone else; a grown man skipping down sidewalks, singing made-up children’s songs. But you know what? I really don’t care what you think about me, my kid loves me, and I love him, and that love is much more important to me than your opinion of me.
As we get to the front doors of the school I stop him right before the entrance. I do this every day. I look him in the eye on his level, tell him I love him, and I expect him to be good and to learn, and we will pick him up after school and see him then. Then I, selfishly, give him a hug and kiss before I send him in; full well knowing my days are numbered before he will think it is a horrific crime that I’d embarrass him that way! Ah, yes, it is a beautiful day, my five year does not yet know it is “not cool” to hug and kiss your parents before running into school! That makes my day beautiful!
As he runs in the door, he stops at the entrance to “high five” the door monitor. Even once he is inside, my eyes, through the glass doors, never ever leave him, until I see him commit to his turn that takes him down the hallway to his classroom. I do that every day, no matter how much rain, no matter how cold it is, I always linger that last few seconds to see him turn down that hallway to safety.
For a while, I use to wonder why I did that? What makes me “hover” like that. Ugh, am I going to become one of those annoying parents that can’t let go or have excessive boundary issues? No, I know why I do it. I know why I need that one last glance at him. I know why, but it is so hard, so painful to admit it, even to myself. I don’t even know now, as the write this, if I can do it. But the truth is, I linger. I need that one last hug and kiss. I need that one last look at him heading down the hallway. Because, I don’t know, in spite of my promise to him, if I will see him tonight. Or if he is even coming home tonight. And that is the sad truth.
I don’t know, if, as he turns down that hallway, something will change and he will stop being my sweet, little American-born Jose, full of songs, dances, and life, and become just another number count, like the kids of Sandy Hook, Columbine, Parkland, or Santa Fe. Will people, or rather “nuts,” on the internet deny my boy ever really existed; Claim that the whole shooting was staged to take their guns? Or will they just say my boy did not matter? He is, after all, just an acceptable loss on the war against liberals for our guns.
I know he won’t matter to the media. They will just be eagerly excited to add him to the count,– raise the numbers; the more dead-the more viewers-the more ratings. He won’t matter to lawmakers, because he stands in the way of their lofty NRA endorsements and the base voters back home. He won’t matter to gun owners, who won’t even stop and cry with me, because his death means only more people will want their guns now and, somehow, his death makes me public enemy number one.
You see, I linger and I look, and I refuse to leave until I see him turn that corner. Because he is an American and I live in America. And that means every single time I send him into a school it may very well be the last time anyone sees him as anything more than a number that got in the way of their agenda or propped up their ratings! But he is more, so much more! And I am disgusted by the lack of love we have normalized in our nation for God’s children! It is an abomination!
Yes. I know, I know. You think I am a liberal, I am brainwashed. You are calling me a “Leftist” and yelling I don’t know enough about guns to have a say. I already know what you will say about me when you read this. I know you will flame me, troll me, slice me, and dice me. So, I’ll repeat what I said above: I love my son, he loves me, and I don’t care how that looks to you! I am going to defend his right to survive being educated! But for the record, in spite of what you have to tell yourself to keep hating me, I am not a liberal and I am not against the 2nd Amendment which reads;
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Jose and friends chilling in the “Pastor’s Office” at church.
I have no issues with people bearing Arms. I don’t want to infringe on that. I want us to notice it calls for not only regulation but regulation that works well. And that is all anyone is asking for! I ask you, what good is the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution if our application of it does not hold up the ideals that led to the Constitution? Isn’t the purpose of the Constitution to lay out how we will govern the ideals that were envisioned and embedded into the Declaration of Independence in the first place?
At what point do your right to bear Arms, poorly regulated and poorly enforced regulations, supersede Jose’s rights to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness?” After all, was that not the whole point on which American began? Are we not already superseding that point when it is no longer safe to send our children to our own schools?!
“Every time the school calls me to say, Jose has a fever and is in the clinic… I jump, looking at the display screen wondering is today the day… “
In spite of your talking points, I don’t want to take your guns, I don’t want to do away with the Constitution, the Bill of rights, or even the 2nd Amendment. I am certainly not a liberal, nor brainwashed. I just want my child to survive school! Is that asking too much?
Pray with me, that reasonable people can shut up, sit down, listen to each other, compromise, seek right, protect children, and find solutions instead of declaring our dead children an acceptable sacrifice to the god of ideology.
Every time the school calls me to say, Jose has a fever and is in the clinic, forgot his lunch, needs a change of clothes, or whatever, I jump, looking at the display screen wondering is today the day that I get a very different kind of call. Is today the day he stops being the son I love with all my heart, and just become one of America’s number forever more.
“It’s a Beautiful day,” or at least it was when he turned that corner at 9:15 this morning. For the love of God, pray with me that it stays, “A beautiful day,” at least until 3:45 p.m. Pray with me, we can make this work, change hearts, reach heads, and find solutions that don’t allow our children to be “acceptable losses” to our democracy.