Love Makes Heroes
I didn’t tell him about Newtown. Turned off the radio. Hid the news home page. Still, awareness seeped in. Days later, he dreamt that his preschool playground suddenly wasn’t safe. In his dream, he was the hero, the helper. He told everybody to get inside before the bad people took pictures. Took pictures? Shoot pictures. My boy in his innocent preschool bubble associated shooting with cameras, not guns.
I didn’t tell him about Newtown because at that time, school already produced enough anxiety. School is safe, was our message. As safe as safe can be, I’d say, knowing that was a reassurance to him, an honest hole-in-my-heart truth to me. This is as safe as can be, and people can still come in with an AR-15 and murder you between snack and story time.
I didn’t tell him about Aurora. He was too young to know about movie theaters. Or the Boston Marathon, precisely because it happened steps from our old church. Or Charleston.
I didn’t tell him about the Stanford rape case, even though the sentence made my blood boil and nerves raw, affecting my patience with him all week. Head and heart and stomach tumbling over how to raise a boy to truly understand consent and to be accountable for his actions. We’re in a “not me” phase of childhood. My concern lies less in missing pocket change than how to respond now so that my future 18-year-old (good grief, that rapist is barely 10 years older than my boy) will choose to be the hero who intervenes, not the perpetrator, the victim, or the bystander who does nothing.
Reading parenting advice about raising accountable boys, I came across Ask Moxie’s open letter to her sons about stopping rape. The piece provides many salient points, but her steps to take gave me the words I’d been looking to share with my kiddo:
“…If it’s safe for you to say something, say something….If it’s not safe for you to say something, leave the room quietly and calmly and call me. I do not care if you’re someplace you’re not supposed to be, or not the place you told me you were, or in Canada or someplace that would normally get you in a lot of trouble. You get immunity if you’re calling for help. My phone is always on, and it does not matter what time of day or night it is…Call one of us and give us the address of where you are and we will come help.”
I woke on Monday morning, June 13, heart and mind full of Orlando. 50 people dead. As many injured, confined to hospital beds in shock and fear. Certainly some whose fear included knowing that this is how their families would find out they are LGBTQ.
My heart cracked open reading one man’s texts to his mom from the bathroom. Urging her to call the police. Telling her he was about to be murdered. Maybe she had these same conversations; if someone’s in danger you help, or call for help. Did she teach him this since first grade? He must’ve believed in his heart she could help.
I couldn’t stop crying. Couldn’t hide this one from my son, as if that’s possible now. He’s on the playground, the bus, the cafeteria more waking hours than he’s home. So I told him about Orlando.
Something bad happened yesterday and I need you to know. People were at a nightclub celebrating gay pride and being Latino. A man came in with a gun and killed a whole bunch of people. His heart was so full of hurt and hate, he didn’t think it was ok for people to love who they love.
I’m thankful for the police and emergency workers who helped. And all the people who are giving blood to help the ones in the hospital. There are many, many more people who love than people who hate. But the haters have guns, so it’s not a fair fight. That’s why it’s so important to share our love. Love makes us heroes.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ginny is a yoga instructor, Reiki practitioner, gardener, activist, and middle aged Mama. She has put down roots in South Amherst with her spouse and young son. Daily she’s amazed by the beauty the Pioneer Valley offers, though her allergies beg to differ. She believes our natural state is to be balanced in body and mind so spirit can flow freely. Because modern life gets in the way, she offers self-healing bodywork to unravel imbalances and restore energy flow. In Off the Mat, Ginny explores how yoga’s physical and mindfulness exercises help her parent and how parenting shapes her yoga practice.