– – – –

Do you have everything? Homework? Lunch? Field trip money?

I love you.

I remember that one of the Sandy Hook parents said that they took comfort in the fact that they had seen their child off to school that morning — you know that morning — and said, “I love you.” So before their first grader was gunned down in her classroom, she knew that she was loved. I bet they all did though.

But just in case, I love you.

We’ve talked about all kinds of scary things, like I’ve told you never to get into a car with anyone you don’t know and don’t ever believe that an adult needs your help finding a puppy or a kitten. Also: no one will ever give you a free iPad or Legos from their car, that’s just not how the world works.

But for some reason, amidst all the talk of stranger danger and pedophiles, cancer and dying, and me sheepishly asking your friends’ parents if they have a gun in the house, we haven’t really talked about one of the scariest things of all. Those lockdown drills you’re always having at school? No one’s being straight with you about those. They’re to prepare you in case someone decides to come into your school and murder you, your friends, your principal, the secretaries, and teachers before killing himself (it’s pretty much always a him). Sorry about that.

I love you.

I know that may sound scary, but what you need to remember is that this country was founded on freedom. And that includes the freedom of all people (sane, crazy, whatever) to have unchallenged access to guns that are capable of executing at least 20 first graders or 12 moviegoers or 9 of the faithful at a church service or even a baby asleep in her car seat. This is very, very important in terms of staying true to the principles and spirit upon which this country was founded. Just ask the Internet.

I love you.

Also: I think the real victims here are the politicians, how can they be expected to do what’s morally right when they lost their way, not to mention their souls, so very long ago? These politicians — most of whom have children, grandchildren, maybe even great grandchildren of their own — have no qualms about walking past grief-stricken parents who clutch photos of their murdered children to their chests and telling them in so many words, “You don’t have to go home but you can’t cry here.”

They have to know, deep down, that what they’re doing is wrong and the world certainly knows that what they’re doing is wrong but they put their suits on like it’s any other job or maybe they’re convinced that they’re righteous people doing God’s work. But they are no more doing God’s work than the ones who have pulled the trigger over and over again.

And again.

And yet again.

Ad infinitum.

I love you.

I’m sorry, I wish I had better news. But let’s keep our sympathies where they belong — with the powerful and the armed. With those who feel threatened in the face of the most toothless efforts to hold back the bloodshed and those who believe scary monster stories about their guns being taken away. Let’s face it, it would be easier to take away the ocean or the stars. Did you know that there are more guns than people in this country? That means everyone in your class already has a gun with their name on it, so to speak. Maybe mention that at share time.

I love you.

You could also tell your class that sometimes when I hear a lot of ambulances and fire trucks go by, sirens filling the air with panic, I pay close attention to whether they’re heading in the direction of your school. And if they are, I check Twitter and our town hashtag and the fire department account to see if anyone’s mentioned your school. When I get the all clear I think, “Someone else’s tragedy today, suckers!”

And sometimes I wonder, what if one or both of you gets murdered at school? How will I ever forgive myself for sending you there? You know, to school. But do you want to know what makes me feel better? The fact that you could be massacred pretty much anywhere these days! Such a relief, right? So off you go!

I love you.

Yes I know, I know, you’re going to be late. Just to wrap up, our country has chosen to shift all of the weight regarding your safety away from our lawmakers and gun manufacturers and instead put it squarely on the shoulders of your principal and teachers. These people who kneel down on the first day of school so they’re just as tall as you. These people who shake your hand and say, “Good morning!” and help you rehearse for the spring concert and take you on field trips to see different rock formations — they are now in charge of keeping you from getting murdered. Which really is the least they can do for all that money they make.

I love you.

Oh hey, quick reminder, tell your teacher that I’ll be picking you up at 2 o’clock for your dentist appointment.

And please don’t get murdered at school today.

I love you.