Won’t You Ring a Bell with Me?

Update: Vote for this post on BlogHer’s Voices of the Year: http://www.blogher.com/wont-you-ring-bell-me

Parenting requires the ability to tell a good ‘little white lie’ now and then.

Little white lies that blanket the world like snowflakes, sugar-coating a sometimes scary and confusing landscape.

It’s not my strong-suit. I’m compulsively honest, you see. And my daughter, otherwise known as The Inquisitor, is the persistent sort. That’s why conversations that begin with “How are babies made?” end with “Yes, you might poop on the table,” while those that begin with “Why don’t I have a grandfather?” end with “Yes, the man who shot him probably feels really sad.”

And that’s why it’s no small miracle that she’s believed in Santa and his sidekicks, the Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny, past her eighth birthday.

But only a few weeks past: Yesterday, she informed me her friend said the Elf on the Shelf doesn’t really move by himself and that Santa isn’t real either, and asked if that was true.

Heeding our pediatrician’s advice, I tried to answer her question with a question: “What do you think?” As usual, she shot it right back at me, so  I asked if she really wanted to know the truth.

She nodded yes.

Elf on the shelf
Magic John, world traveler

After breaking the news that it was all really all me all along, I comforted her with the fact that now SHE can move the Elf and stay up late on Christmas Eve to help me wrap her little brother’s presents.

She quickly got into the holiday spirit and moved that Elf to a new shelf with great glee.

I’ll never have to move ‘Magic John‘ again! Win!

And she took a small, bittersweet, step away from childhood and toward adulthood.

Not one to leave well-enough alone, I then broke the news about our evening plans.

Last night, we were going to a vigil at a local mall to remember the two people who were shot and killed there a year ago. She knows I’ve been volunteering to help reduce gun violence, but I’ve kept the reasons a little hazy. When I started to describe that a mommy and a daddy were shot at the mall and we’re going there to support their families–and that I might have to talk to the news– she protested: “Grandma says I’m too young to know about all this scary stuff.”

I explained that the world is a wonderful place, but bad things do happen, and I’m doing my part to help make it safer.

I told her that pretending bad things don’t happen doesn’t make them go away.  We have to open our eyes and then do something to make it better.

She looked me in the eye, and, with a soft smile on her face, said, “Mommy, I’m so proud of you. You do good things for our community and I love you.”

After a hug, we talked about how it’s terrible that bad things happen to little children, like when my dad died and I was only ten and my brothers and sisters were her age and younger. And we had to know what happened.

And we talked about the children who were shot at Sandy Hook a year ago Saturday.

And that their brothers and sisters and parents and friends had to know what happened.

Just a few months ago, I’d finally broken down and, in the least graphic way that I could muster, answered her questions about the poster in our carport with the pictures of 20 children and their teachers. She solemnly noted that one of the boys looked like a kid in her class. I reassured her that these things are very unusual and I’m doing my best to make sure they never happen again.

I want her to understand why I’m doing the community work that I do.  Five years ago when she wanted to know about my then-job, I put it simply: I make it easier for people to quit smoking and not breathe smoke where they work. And these days, I tell her, I’m trying to make our community safer from guns.

But I wanted her to really understand why.  

So we watched this video about little Emilie Parker together.

With tears streaming down my face, I held my children on either side so they could see that, yes, scary things do happen, but their mommy and so many others are not letting evil win.

Those twenty children–and the eight that are shot every day in this country by their playful siblings, friends, parents, or by their own hands–will never know the truth about Santa and the Easter Bunny. But we can still give them a gift this holiday season: the gift of remembrance and resolve.

As you gather together with your families this season, watching the snow fall, singing carols, and eating too much, please hold your loved ones a little closer.

And please, ring a bell in the name of all the children, brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, and friends we have lost too young and too early.

I’ll be ringing a bell on Saturday, with my children by my side, to show that we will not be silent.

We will not hide from the truth, and we will not sugar-coat it.

We will put an end to the tremendous, terrible lie that nothing can be done to curb gun violence.

Evil will not win.

No More Silence Moms Demand Action
Click to find an event near you.

 

Update: Vote for this post on BlogHer’s Voices of the Year: http://www.blogher.com/wont-you-ring-bell-me

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Part of the solution since 1973.

13 thoughts on “Won’t You Ring a Bell with Me?

  1. Kylie the more we read your blog, the more we know that we’ve been blessed to meet one of God’s angels. What a pure soul you have my dear! And you are an incredible mother & just as Carrie Rubin said, role model!! I worked at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Crimes Against Children Section & before my writing career with my daughter, worked in law enforcement for most my life. After we moved to North Carolina, I pursued my writing career but actively donate time & money to agencies that protect children & as you are doing, speak at events that will bring about awareness. Spreading the word, Sharing videos. Speaking on line. Such passion for Gods angels & doing all that you can to make sure not only yours are protected, but others as well! May God wrap his loving arms around you & yours this season, & every day after!! Thank you Kylie, for the inspirational post that was shared with my daughter as well as my entire family & also sharing this online now! Merry Christmas. 🙂

    1. Aw, thank you!!!!! It is so wonderful to meet people on-line and find so many inter-woven threads in our lives. Bless you for the work you do and for sharing this.

      The more I learn about this issue, the more horrified I become. 28 school shooting this last year, with one last Friday. At least 200 small children killed by guns this last year, and 60 of those by their parents, and most of them by somebody they know in their own homes!!!!

      And then there’s domestic violence, where a gun in the home makes it 500 times more likely the woman will be killed by her partner.

      It makes my throat tighten just to think about it.

      But people like us–we are not letting it stop us! We won’t let it overwhelm us. We get out there and do something! Thank you.

  2. Reblogged this on The Life of Kylie and commented:

    What do you remember about the day of the Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, CT? Saturday was the anniversary. There have been 28 school shootings since Sandy Hook, including one on Friday. That’s an average of more than one school shooting every two weeks this year alone.

    What were you feeling a year ago?

  3. You’re a great role-model for your kids, and it’s wonderful that your daughter already recognizes your contributions. It can be very difficult to discuss these tragedies with our kids, but do it we must or else risk them getting their information elsewhere, which can leave them scared and confused. It’s our job as parents to explain things to them but also reassure them and make them feel safe. But oh, what a difficult job it can be at times!

    1. Thanks Carrie. I read some blog post a couple weeks ago about a mother who issued ‘farnings’ which were fear-based warnings (like look both ways when you cross the street so you won’t get run over by a car). I definitely do that, and maybe a bit too much. I just have too many graphic real-life stories to tell our kids. And I don’t want them to have to learn everything the hard way, because sometimes it’s just too hard. But you’re right, it is our job to try to explain things in a way that doesn’t create more fear and anxiety, yet equips them to cope effectively with the real world. And seriously, isn’t that what every Disney story is based on? Maybe not the princess parts, but the surviving dead parents and dealing with mean people parts!

  4. Often I think we should try to find more “champions”. There’s nothing like peer pressure… I know there are a lot of gun owners who are for “reasonable reforms”, but they need to be loud and louder. I want the idiot who leaves his gun loaded on the kitchen table to KNOW that all of his friends think he’s an idiot for it.
    And then some of these guys (and it’s mostly guys afaik) simply shouldn’t have a gun. Period.

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