Saturday, December 15, 2012

Without Ever Knowing Why

I was in the faculty room at the school where I’m subbing when I heard. Everyone was talking about it in hushed tones. Everyone except the kindergarten teacher, a new father, who was having a lively conversation about diapers with another teacher who’s a new grandmother.

As our buzz about the day’s tragedy got louder and more disturbing, so did the diaper discussion – almost as if in self defense. All around the table there were calls for gun control and better access to mental health support, calls for getting the police involved no matter what the age of the student, speculation about whether or not something like this could happen at this school and what we’d do if it did.

But the loudest of all was the rather vivid description of how to clean a soiled cloth diaper to perfection. Two teachers begged him to stop. And then we all stopped.

Quiet.

Which is what we all needed, really.

Obviously I can’t speak for each and every teacher everywhere, or even every teacher in the faculty room that day. We all have our own sensitivities and convictions and fears. We’re just people, after all.

We ended the day on the playground, where the 3rd grade teacher and I conducted a team Messy Science activity – the diet coke and mentos geyser. Pure joy. Boys and girls of various ages, race, class, and abilities sharing a moment of joyful Science! on a Friday afternoon. This is what we’re here for.

I wasn’t even thinking about it as we walked the students to the busses. I wasn’t thinking about it until I came home from work and saw the flood of humanity all over Facebook.

I can’t quite share the outrage or the fear or even the sadness. It’s all just too big right now. Too much to fathom.

All I can share with any sense of certainty is this old John Denver song, sung by the Muppets. It’s been in my head all day, ever since the faculty room fell silent. And all I can wish for anyone right now is peace.

“It’s in every one of us
To be wise.
Find your heart,
Open up both your eyes.
We can all know everything
Without ever knowing why.
It’s in every one of us
By and by.”

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