12/14/12

Remembering the Students of Sandy Hook Elementary School

I can't stop thinking about the parents of Sandy Hook Elementary School, especially the ones who dropped their kids off and said goodbye for the last time. For the most part, school mornings aren't easy or smooth. It's stressful to serve breakfast and find matching socks and get everyone out the door. Everything feels rushed. By this time of the school year, parents have learned the absolute last minute they can leave the house before they are late. They learn exactly what to serve for breakfast, sometimes resorting to a plastic baggie of cheerios to eat along the way. It's no longer new and memorable, like it was the first day of school. By now, the morning rush might even seem routine. 

But today, this morning turned out to be anything but routine for the parents of Sandy Hook who lost a child to a reckless gunman. They will never forget the boring details of their last moments with their kids. Now these details seem more precious than ever. My thoughts and love go out to the families dealing with so much loss right now. I'm searching for ways to help. To honor the kids who won't have a chance to experience a crazy school day morning again, I'm including the mundane details of our Friday morning . . . 


When my kids woke up, they all came into my room and we cuddled for a few minutes. I couldn't wait to see them since Rob and I went on a date last night and by the time we came home they were already sleeping. As I was squeezing Ella, she said dramatically, "How are we going to get through another day?" Rob suggested we should just stay in bed and cuddle instead of leaving the house. We all agreed that would be fun. But we all had work to do, whether it was school or a job, so we dragged ourselves out of bed.

Rob scrambled to get the boys uniforms together while I got myself dressed for work. It wasn't as bad as usual since I set out my clothes last night, including a brand new sweater.  As I was brushing my teeth, I could hear the boys fumbling around the kitchen. I came in and was impressed to see them completely dressed. Minus shoes and socks. I made the boys Nutella sandwiches, poured two cups of apple cider, and cut up an orange. Oscar didn't finish his juice. I asked if he wanted more. He didn't. Owen finished it off for him.  

I helped Ella find the last pieces of her outfit, a navy blazer and black shirt. I asked if she had on clean underwear. She did. I found the boys socks. I put my hair in a bun. I helped Ella tie her shoes. Oscar found the cards Grandma sent for Thanksgiving. I can't believe it's taken me so long to give them to the kids. They shouted for joy when they discovered the two dollar bills she stuck in each card.  

As we were putting our backpacks on, Owen showed off his perfectly opened envelope. "I've never done it like this before! Look, it's not ripped!" I nodded and put on my hat. "Am I taking Ella today?" I asked Rob. "Yeah, if you can." I could, so I did. 

When we were getting on the elevator, Owen was upset because he forgot his envelope. He wanted to show his teacher. Annoyed, I stormed back into the house and looked for the envelope. I couldn't find it, but I found the card so I gave it to him hoping it wouldn't start a tantrum. It worked. The elevator mysteriously went all the way to the top floor and then zoomed down to the bottom. 

When we got out the building, a man walking his dog smiled and said hello to Owen and Oscar. Ella was already half way down the street on her scooter. I rushed the boys along and shouted, "We're going to be late!" I took their backpacks so they could run.  Luckily, we caught a cab a few blocks later. As we were getting into the cab I said to the kids, "You know what to do. Make me proud!" They know this means to put on their seat belts by themselves. Owen helped me put the scooters in the trunk. Oscar got nervous and asked, "Where's our backpacks?!" He turned and saw them in the trunk. When I got into the cab, I finished putting on their seat belts. As we were driving, I admired the cab and said, "I like this car, I wonder what it is." Ella piped up with, "It's a Toyota!" This cracked the driver up. He told us it was a Prius. I felt like a moron for not knowing. Owen complained I was squishing him. 

As we got out of the cab, Owen shouted for all the world to hear, "Bye, mom! I LOVE YOU, MOM!" He did this three times. I beamed and shouted back, "I love you, too!". I'm glad he's still not embarrassed to share his feelings about me in front of his classmates. My friend Emily heard him and smiled at me. Oscar ran into school without his backpack and had to come back to me for it.  

Once the boys were in school I said, "Oh, good it's Ella and mom time! Finally" She responded, "I'm hungry." I realized I had forgotten to make her a sandwich like I had the boys. "Oh, you're right! Let's go get you something." We went to the grocery store around the corner. "Oh wait," I said,"Don't you get breakfast at school? Friday is bagel day! You kids always trick me into buy you stuff." She smiled and shrugged as she picked a S'mores flavored Luna Bar. She didn't finish it. We had to ride our scooters a little faster to school because the stop slowed us down a bit. 

The wind picked up, so I asked Ella if she wanted to put her gloves on. She did. She opened her backpack to search for them and could only find one. I was so annoyed. She's already lost three hats this winter. Now her gloves. She walked away and I snapped, "Ella, get your scooter! Where are you going?!" I knew it was irrational to be so upset. How do parents let stupid things like this go? I tried not to be mad at her, but then she cut me off with her scooter and I snapped. "Ella watch where you're going! Come on!" She always tries to be the responsible one of the bunch, and I know my comments were frustrating her. She started crying. I decided to stop at Duane Reade to buy her a hat. While we were looking over the hat selection, she insisted she left her hat at school, promised find it, and she didn't need to get a new one. We left the store empty handed. I could tell she was cold. She was trying hard not to cry. 

When we got to the school, I locked up her scooter. She waited for me. With tears in her eyes she said, "I don't want to leave you!" I sat down on the curb and gave her a huge hug. I finally softened my heart and said, "Truly, Ella. The hat and the gloves don't mean anything. I'm really sorry for being so annoyed about it. I want you to have a good day. I love you so much." And with a red face and a big smile, her last words to me were, "I'll be alright. I can do this!" She turned, opened the heavy door to her school, and walked in. I scooted off to work. 

I arrived to my office three minutes early. All the rushing, pit stops and cheering up didn't make me late. Actually, I could have had a few more moments with my kids. I hope instead of sulking over a missing hat or glove, I would have spent those moments shouting, "I love you, too!" for all the world to hear. Monday. I'll get my chance.

22 comments:

  1. This is lovely. And I liked that you mentioned the part about the seatbelts. I'm 22 and texted my mom today and told her how I cried on and off all day after hearing the news and how I hate that at the age of these kids that lost their lives is when we learn the basic saftely precautions like putting on your seatbelt, holding your mom's hand and looking both ways before crossing the street, and don't talk to strangers. It makes me sick that all of this apparently isn't enough. I finished my text by telling my mom that I love her. Such a hearbreaking day.

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  2. Thanks for writing this. I love reading about how much joy your children give you. Have you found ways to help the families in CT? My heart hurts for those parents and families.

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    1. thanks for the comment. i've found three charities that people started, but i'm waiting for something more official. i'll keep you posted.

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  3. Sharon this is beautiful...this whole thing stinks and I am so sad...being a teacher I just don't know what the heck it going on in this world...ack...

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  4. Thank you so much for this post, I have to admit it brought tears to my eyes, especially the last paragraph!
    I can't even imagine what those parents must be feeling right now, it breaks my heart over and over again to think about it. Do let us know when you find a way in which strangers from all over the world could help, in any small way.

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    1. hi emily! thanks for the comment. I just found this articlewith ways to help!

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  5. what a beautiful idea. keep doin you, lady.

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  6. I never comment, but love reading your blog. I teared up reading this post, especially the end.
    I love that your daughter said, "I'll be alright. I can do this!" So sweet.
    Thanks for your words and writing down a morning routine. I want to do the same. What a great way to remember the small and seemingly insignificant things, really, end up making the life.

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  7. Crying.
    I have a morbid awareness that something could happen to my husband during his day so make a big deal of kissing goodbye in the morning but you just don't think anything could happen to your children.
    Thinking of the families in America.
    With love from the UK x

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  8. what a wonderful idea. such bittersweet reminders to hug a little longer. hope you had a great weekend!

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  9. What a beautiful post. Life is so fragile we really need to make every moment count. Thanks

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  10. I loved this post. Its those small details that end up making up the big stuff. I too was looking for a way to help and figured at the least, I can write a letter to my representatives about what I think needs to change. http://frommpdaily.blogspot.com/2012/12/doing-something.html

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  11. I hadn't even thought of that... the last moment of the morning when they said goodbye to their kids. Thank you for pointing that out... it's so true, we say hello and goodbye all day/week long to our most loved ones assuming we'll see them again.

    I loved reading your Friday morning. I was laughing and tearing up, picturing your kids and you. And you and Ella zooming on your scooters! Thank you for this post. xoxo

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  12. I teared up a little when I dropped my kids off at school today. Really beautiful post, Sharon.

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  13. This was so wonderful to read. I love the mundane details-- they have so much heart. Thank you for sharing.

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  14. Thank you for writing this. I love that you thought to tell us the details of your Friday morning. I thought I was OK today (Monday) as I walked my 7-year-old (youngest of three) to school. It wasn't until we got to the crosswalk and passed a dad who said quietly that all doors were locked except the front. As we walked around to the front of the building, I noticed many more parents than usual walking their children to the door. I kissed my daughter and watched her go in. Cried on and off the rest of the day. I'm sure tomorrow will be a little easier. Thank you again for your thoughts.

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  15. This is such a beautiful post. It is these mundane moments that we will later remember as so important. It is nice to see these moments captured forever to be remembered.

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  16. I've been reading your blog for awhile. This is, without a doubt, my favorite thing you have written. Thank you.

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  17. This is beautiful. It is so easy to live life in fast forward. If we could only learn to slow down, we could find such joy in the regular moments.

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  18. Hi – It’s good to read such interesting stuff on
    the Internet as I have been able to discover here.
    I agree with much of what is written here and I’ll be
    coming back to this website again. Thanks again for posting such
    great reading material!!

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  19. It's much later, and school just started with its beautiful, horrible, shouting, hugging, crying routine. This is my favorite thing you've ever written, and I guess it will be perfectly timely every September forever. God bless.

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