The shooting, the horrible shooting in Texas, truly traumatized my 10-year-old.
In the middle of the night she came to my bed; she had a nightmare and she couldn’t sleep.
She asked a lot of questions
“Mommy,” she asked, “What if the man with the gun comes to our house?”
“Mommy, what if the man with the gun comes to my school?”
“Mommy, what if the man with the gun comes to shoot us at home?”
I looked at my sweet child’s face, so scared that I decided to lie to her.
“The man with the gun cannot come into our house. He will not come to your school and he will not find us.
You’re safe. You have nothing to worry about.”
I kissed her. I put my arms around her and listened to her breathing as she fell into a deep sleep.
And then I started to panic.
I laid in bed awake the rest of the night worrying about her questions that were echoing in my head.
What if the man with the gun comes to our house?
What if the man with the gun goes to her school?
What if the man with the gun in this crazy world lies in wait for my children, my friends’ children or people that I love?
Serving in the Israeli army made me fear guns less, but the lack of gun control in this country has taken that away from me. It strips me of the power I have to control a gun and my fear.
My newfound fear leaves me completely helpless.
Relationships 101 is now working outside of Juvie, beyond the walls of detention facilities.
We are in the hood in continuation schools, at the GRYD (Gang Reduction and Youth Intervention) centers, residential homes for kids that aged out of foster care, LGBT youth, pregnant teens and more.
It’s a whole different story being in these neighborhoods, in the places these kids come from.
We work very hard to get them to come to our classes.
We have to work hard to make them stay.
Kids sometimes show up, sometimes they do not.
Some come high.
Sometimes they don’t come at all.
Some disappear into the world of drugs.
Others just don’t come back.
There is so much, so incredibly much, to worry about.
Do we keep the group open if there’s only one kid showing up from the 10 that are supposed to be there?
Do we start on time when everyone is late?
Do we wait as the girls arrive slowly 20-30 minutes late, one girl holding her child, the other one pregnant with a child?
This is the reality of the girls that I met in Juvie.
As harsh as I thought I knew it was, as harsh as I heard it was, as harsh as I told you in my blog, harsh gets a whole new meaning when you are there.
Time has a new meaning.
Attendance a new meaning.
And “meaning” has a new meaning.
And these kids that I work with,
These kids that I love so deeply,
Well, they face a man with a gun every day.
Maybe not exactly like the man with the gun in Texas, but kind of the same thing in a different form or different shape.
So what the hell are we going to do about the man with the gun?
How can we do better? How can we make it stop?
By contacting our representatives, by going to rallies, by speaking out, by speaking up, by taking action.
Yes, I say to all of this. Yes and yes! I am there.
Yesterday, today and tomorrow.
Everyone is saying enough with prayers. Take action!
Yes, I say. Amen.
But in my work, day in and day out, when I meet the kids that have a gun pointed in their face again and again, literally and metaphorically…
I know what needs to be done.
And I choose it against all odds, even if it seems silly.
Even when it is hard, feels useless or futile…
To be kind.
To be present.
To be patient.
To reach out.
The only way I can fight that man with the gun is to be everything he is not.
To give what he probably never got.
I am well aware that this in itself cannot stop a bullet.
But maybe, just maybe it will make someone understand that guns and bullets are not the answer.
It is incredibly easy and yet so incredibly hard, but we have to do something to fight the senseless violence.