Every so often my sons and I write to our elected officials. We voice our concerns over all sorts of things – standardized testing, military benefits, global vaccines, healthcare. Bird and Deal are 12 and 10 respectively and are keenly astute when it comes to social and political issues. You might say our family dinner table conversations are enriching, and sometimes heated. There was that one time Deal got up and stormed away from the table because we were waxing on and on about unions. We try to couch things in a way that our sons can understand and digest (clearly we weren’t so successful with the union talk). Race relations and women’s rights are common topics at our table. We’ve stayed away from anything that might frighten the boys.

In years past we tried to shield our sons from the news. We never spoke of school shootings, movie theater shootings, mall shootings, domestic violence shootings. My god, the list goes on. We were protective, and fearful. There was a code red at my sons’ elementary school due to an active shooter in the vicinity. I had actually just left the very parking lot where the man shot his ex-wife moments later. I don’t have the words to adequately describe how I felt knowing this man was on the loose with a loaded weapon so close to my sons’ school, close enough to have reached there on foot without becoming short of breath.

Then there was Newtown. We couldn’t hide the news from our sons anymore. This one hit painfully close to home. The chilling headlines were everywhere, and the whispered sorrows among our friends were within earshot of our kids, despite our attempts to be discreet. We knew the boys would hear the news themselves from friends or others so we told them ourselves. I never imagined I would have to have this gun talk with my children. I never imagined my kids would have code red drills the way we had tornado drills back in the day.

We’ve moved from natural disasters to manmade disasters.

And so we wrote to our Senators.

Here’s what my sons had to say (printed with their permission)

Dear Senator Burr,

I’m writing to you because of gun control laws. I come home everyday to hear about another shooting. You need to get rid of the laws that make it easy to buy guns and replace them with background checks and tests. If there were background checks there would be no code red drills in schools, no more shootings, and no more worry.

Signed Concerned Children,

Bird and Deal 

Dear Senator Tillis,

I’m concerned about gun control. First of all, I watch Good Morning America with my mom everyday. I’m tired of hearing the same story. A ten year old shouldn’t hear about shootings everyday. We turn off the news when this happens. We didn’t watch the Oregon coverage. Why can people with horrible backgrounds still buy AK-47s? We should stop selling military grade guns. More deaths just lead to more guns. Lockdown drills at school are bad to practice. But we really could have one at any time. Most people think teachers should have guns. But what if kindergarteners should see their teacher with a handgun? Police and soldiers should be the only people with guns. Unlimited ammo purchases are also bad. People could create their own military with these gun laws.

Signed Concerned Children,

Bird and Deal 


Only in America

by Ilinap on October 1, 2015


We are whacking away at childhood innocence. Lockdown drills. Active shooter drills. Arming teachers. Guns in schools, parks, playgrounds. My god, what have we done?

When Bird gets home from school we have an hour together before Deal scampers in from up the hill. I relish this time with Bird. It’s really our only time to talk candidly and privately. He chats and opens up and generally just absorbs the moments we have together. It’s easy for a 12-year old boy to open up to his mother if she’s otherwise engaged versus sitting knee to knee. Boys tend to talk while doing, while most girls (and women) like to focus on just the talking. And so it goes that I chop and saute while he chats and snacks. It’s in the after school moments we talk about things that 10-year old Deal is still sheltered from – the ups, downs, and zigzags of the world.

I told Bird today about the shooting in Oregon. He looked at me bewildered. “Again, Mom? Again?” His eyes glanced down, his feathery long eyelashes brushing the remnants of baby fat atop his cheek. He looked up at me looking lost, confused, incredulous. I stifled a sob. Days and days worth of sobs for all we have lost at the pull of a trigger. Bird said it seems like there’s a shooting everyday and for sure gun deaths and accidents pepper the news every single day. It’s true, I told him. Every. Single. Day. In America. And he said, “Only in America, Mom. ‘Only in America’ means a lot of good things, but not this.”

And I just don’t know what to say anymore.


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