For me, today is the hardest day of summer, it is the day I sent my kids back to school. With their clean shiny faces and their crisp new clothes my children headed off to a world of their own. A world full of friends and laughter, good education and all sorts of after school activities. I think that the tragedy that happened to our quiet little community almost three years ago now, has changed us all and how we as parents feel about sending our kids to school. We now know that our children aren't wrapped in a cocoon of safety anymore.
I will never forget the blank stares of the kids that arrived by bus, packed to standing room only, at the elementary school after the horrific shooting at Platte Canyon High School. Or the feel of the crowd in Bailey as us parents waited for news of our children, whether it be our own, or the girl next door. In a small community, they are ALL our children. It is a day that is burned into all of our memories as one of the saddest, but in our strong little community we have tried to turn a horrendous experience into one of love and sharing. We have a great group of small town kids, and they have taken their memories and pain and turned them into wonderful ideas. We now have "Kindness Day", where the kids do community service instead of going to school that day. A non-profit organization was started and has helped many local charities. But, most importantly, it has given our kids the ability to accept one another just the way they are.
I must say that since that terrible day I have considered home schooling my kids about a million times. I have always been a big supporter of public education and understand that this incident was very uncommon, but that doesn't mean I don't want to wrap my children in my cocoon. Can we keep our children in a safety net all the time? I have come to the conclusion that we can't. We teach them everything we can and at some point in time, we have to learn to let go.
Even the settlers of our 13 original colonies built schools that still sit in their original locations. The Amish even send their kids to school, and have also seen tragedy. Knowing that the wonderful staff and teachers at our schools will take care of our kids, no matter what, makes me feel better about who my children are working with, and learning from.
So with a broken heart and a fake smile on my face I take them to the big yellow bus, knowing I have made the right decision for us. The huge smiles on their faces tells me a lot. The excitement in their eyes when they see a friend they haven't seen for awhile heals my heart just a touch. It is the wave goodbye that brings the tears.