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Last month a school district in my area received a shooting threat. Yes, within miles of my house this actually happened.
It is almost incomprehensible to think about our children being in school learning their ABCs, mathematics, fire safety with drills as well as intruder/shooter drills and protocols. It is such a different world than when I grew up and sometimes I struggle to wrap my head around where we are now as a society.
It is awful to hear of the hatred that can be displayed by children towards their classmates when a threat is not a threat but a reality. But if I am honest, there still seems to be some relief in that it was in THAT state or THAT school far, far away. I think we all recognize that it, and other tragic events, can happen anywhere at anytime but somehow we often think it will never happen to us.
This situation was hard to observe, especially as I am on the cusp of sending my own daughter to kindergarten next year. Only a week or so after this situation rocked my town, I was in line at kindergarten registration.
The Short Story
This threat shut down the school district for days as investigations were made by local and federal authorities. Parents, including friends of mine, were faced with the decision the day that it happened to leave their children in school and trust that the school district and authorities would indeed do their jobs of watching over and protecting their children OR go pick up their children early from school.
Those who did the early pick up had to stand in lines, some outside, to wait their turn. This caused feelings of vulnerability as they were standing outside the school buildings and leaving with their kids.
All the parents I spoke to said that the school district did a great job communicating what was happening and any decisions that were being made along the way. The general consensus seemed to be that this was probably not a real threat, but a bluff made by an adolescent who made a very bad choice. However, in these situations you can not take any chances or risks.
During the days that school was closed at all levels within the school district, parents set up social media accounts to help connect and communicate what was known. When the child was identified who made the threats, without the means to carry out them out and did so just to get out of school, there were social media comments of support for the family.
It can be so easy to judge and I found it encouraging that many in the community recognized that children do not allows make the best choices, regardless of how they are raised. It is unfortunate the lifetime consequence that this middle school girl will have to deal with and her family. I do not know what they will do for school for her as she was understandably expelled and no other school district in the area will allow her to join. There are multiple felony charges with hefty fines that will burden that family for a long time.
It is situations like this that make you realize some of the ripple effects of the decisions we make. Some things cannot be undone.
As I mentioned above, there was kindness shown by many in the community towards this girl and family. But recently there have been acts of intentional kindness that were initiated as a result of what happened.
My daughter’s preschool teachers gave the kids “homework” of being kind to at least 3 people they met randomly over the weekend that followed this incident. Then we had two boys, maybe middle school age, dropped off by a SUV come to our door with a colorful and fun little treat. Inside were 4 banana bread muffins that they had made and they were out doing a “random act of kindness”.
It was funny, we happened to see the boys coming and my husband asked me if I knew them (we have only lived here for a year and a half so are still meeting people in the neighborhood). I said no and asked if we had ordered anything recently from someone’s fundraising event and forgot about it. When my husband answered the door and the boys presented the gift it took an awkward moment before they explained that they were doing a “random act of kindness”. It is sad that we tend to be skeptical or confused sometimes when someone is just being kind.
I don’t know if the boys were told to do a random act of kindness by a teacher or if it was suggested by a parent, but I think it is good to be teaching our kids to be kind to others and to be intentional about it, not only doing it if it is easy or convenient. When we encounter people along our journey of life we have no idea what is really happening to them regarding health, marriages, challenges with kids, loss of work or wages, loss of a loved one, etc. It is amazing how just one kind word or what a little consideration can do for someone.
Wrong Phone Numbers
Not long after these situations and right before a big snow storm was expected to hit, I received a text message by a number I did not recognize. It was obviously not for me as the mother identified herself of two kids enrolled in a daycare and was requesting a text if the daycare closed the following day because of the storm.
I responded and said who I was, that I did not believe she intended to text me and that I did not want her to miss out on the information due to the weather forecasts. She responded by apologizing and thanking me for being kind enough to let her know.
I guess I could have left it there but I am an open and friendly person so I sent another text to tell her that I get it and, that being a mother in a similar situation, I would be so upset to miss out on the information and also said to stay safe. I believe whole heartedly we mothers need to support and encourage one another and not judge because we are all different people, thank goodness because it keeps life interesting, and have different kids with different needs. What works for one family does not usually work for another.
This belief in supporting one another, especially in motherhood, makes me seriously want to start some sort of momma hand sign that we do to each other as we walk down the aisle at the store, pass by at the park or across the soccer field. There would probably need to be a little head nod too. Just to say, I hear ya momma and keep on keeping on. But I struggle with the execution of it and how not to just seem like a crazy person, sooo I just stick with encouraging words or smiles. But I digress…
Here was her text back:
Thank you this makes my heart happy to know there are still beautiful people who care about others, like you
Wow. It brought tears to my eyes for a few reasons. First, honestly I really did not do much of anything because it takes two seconds to send a text message and that something so small would touch her enough to respond like that. Second, I have no idea what her situation in life is but my guess is someone being kind and thoughtful is not always expected and stands out to her. Third, it sure blessed my heart to hear that.
Why Kindness Matters For Wellness
Ok, so I can hear you asking, why is a wellness blog writing about a shooting threat and being kind? And the reason is that it matters for our overall wellness.
There is obviously something broken with the wellness of our society when children hurt other children, or even think about it. I know that there are many reasons why this is and most of us have our own views but I believe part of it is a lack of love and kindness in our world.
Another reason, being kind matters for our own personal wellness. When you are intentionally being kind you are looking outside of yourself, your problems, your agenda, your timetable and your fill in the blank. By shifting your focus to others then you are giving yourself a break from being consumed by your life and problems. This can be critical for our mental and emotional wellness.
Being kind can help you appreciate your circumstances in some situations. For example, if you are able to provide a meal to someone who may not be able to get one on their own, it can help you appreciate all you currently have in the refrigerator and pantry.
If you already try to be kind to those around you, then keep it up! And if you tend not to be as kind as you could, try being a little more intentional with helping others or saying something encouraging, you might be surprised when you feel just as much of the benefit. And for each act of kindness given, you can know you are making this world just a little bit better to live in!
Disclaimer: For informational and educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. If you have a health concern, a medical condition, are pregnant or breastfeeding, or are taking any medication please consult your healthcare provider.