Hug Your Kids Today

I was at a business lunch when my wife called in tears. She was getting the car inspected with the radio on and heard the news of a mass murder in a kindergarten in Connecticut. When I hung up the phone the guys across the table from me, a tough-as-nails VC, said, “That didn’t sound good.”  When I told him the news I saw his eyes well up with big gobs of glistening tears.

I got home as fast as I could and sat at the kitchen table holding my wife’s hand. We didn’t talk about much, just sat together. Before heading out to pick-up our seven year-old son, I checked the web once for news. I read that Obama had called the governor of Connecticut as a father not as a President.

On the drive to school I kept the radio off, focused on getting there safely.

He appeared behind the bleachers with his oversized backpack and a big grin on his face. He “shook out” with his teacher, a woman we all adore, and bounded over to me to beg to play on the playground with his friends.

A friend works at CNN. She started emailing me from the control room in Atlanta while I watched my Cole chase his buddies around the monkey bars. A tough lady who has done stints in Afghanistan and Iraq, she sounded shaken to the core. She talked about Christmas presents already under the tree of these kids now lying on the ground. Earlier in the day we had exchanged tweets complaining about Starbucks coffee and a preference for Peet’s (she is from San Francisco and I am just a coffee snob). She mentioned how long ago our little virtual coffee klatch seemed now.

My wife’s best friend and co-head of the parent’s association stood at a picnic table on the playground with tears in her eyes. I tried to cheer her up by talking about how well their teacher gift program had gone this year.

On the way home my son had his headphones on so I tuned into NPR and kept the sound low. I heard the first press conference when the authorities announced 20 children had died in the Kindergarten to fourth grade school. I listened to the police talking about he crime scene and the difficulty of trying to identify the bodies. And his plea to leave the families of the deceased alone.

I hugged my second grader in the flesh when I saw him and when we got home. Hard. And my 10th grader and college freshman, both taking their finals today, in my mind’s eye.

To be honest, I didn’t know what else to do.

Tomorrow maybe I will be able to watch more news, think more clearly, even try to understand what the possibly could mean.  But today I can’t.  I don’t undertand. I don’t know anything. I can’t do more than internalize the bare minimum of facts that confirm for me how massive the tragedy. And look into my boy’s beautiful, innocent, and joyful eyes and weep.

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About Tom Matlack

Tom Matlack is the co-founder of The Good Men Project. He has a 18-year-old daughter and 16- and 7-year-old sons. His wife, Elena, is the love of his life. Follow him on Twitter @TMatlack.

Comments

  1. Thank you for posting about this – I’ve been trying to find some sites talking about this (other than news). I have a 3 year old in pre-school and it is UNIMAGINABLE to me that something like this can happen. One can “somewhat” reason away Columbine, kids who are close to adults, getting back at classmates, but this shooter who takes out the most innocent of innocents, HORRIBLE.

    I pray for all the families involved, I cannot imagine their sorrow at this moment.

  2. Tom,
    We ought to be hugging our kids . . . children . . . Every day.
    If our kids/children are truly the future of this country and world, then as parents we ought to be spending our time wisely on this planets most valuable asset, our children.

  3. I was shaken by this all day yesterday and tried to bury myself in my work to not think about it. I have family in CT and went to kindergarten, first and second grades in a town 20 minutes from Newtown.

    Your friend mentioned the Christmas gifts under the tree. Last night around 11 p.m. I went out to try to catch a peek of the meteor shower and standing in the dark in my socks on the patio, I thought of all the parents who weren’t putting their kids to bed tonight. I’m not even a parent and that was a real punch in the gut.

    Unfathomable.

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