Kids and Nightmares in the Aftermath of Tragedy

It’s 1:30am, and I’m lying next to my fourth-grade son who awoke his mom and I about a half hour ago. He had a bad dream. He dreamt that he was in the middle of a terrorist attack. Unfortunately, this is not the first time, second time, or even tenth time that I’ve found myself lying next to my son telling him that bad dreams are not real. But as I lay here disgusted with what the world has come to, I’m second guessing my “nightmares are not real approach.”

Honestly, I’m at a loss for words. I’m a father and a school superintendent, I should have the answers for my child. I’m conflicted because good dreams, we tell kids, can be a reality. If you dream it, you can achieve it; right?

I don’t want to have discussions with my children about mass shootings, bomb threats, and mass homicides by vehicles. But my child is lying next to me (asleep now), worried about things I would have never thought of when I was a kid. Honestly, my main concerns at his age was whether Santa could fit down our chimney, or what happens if the Energizer Bunny stopped “going.”

What hasn’t stopped though is the constant reminders on TV that we live in a world of anger. I find it sad that my child knows just about everything there is to know about Stephen Paddock. I also find it sad that I don’t even have to explain who he was to you all because you are all aware. I find it disgracefully sad that the media will share his picture and life story way more than they would ever share this article.

I now live in a world in which I must explain to my children that even bad things can happen in God’s house. We called that “church” growing up. We were always told to be quiet and respectful in God’s house. Of course, I would pass this as advice down to my own children, but then I get the question from my child; why would somebody murder people in a church?

So now I’m lying here trying to figure out an answer for that too. Instead, I should be formulating an answer to, “why is the sky blue,” or “Dad, if we dug a hole straight down could we get to China.”

I can’t really explain how frustrated I am. If you know me, you know that I try to infuse positivity into this world as much as I possibly can. It feels about as tough as it would be for somebody with asthma trying to get air into their lungs. Believe me, I know what it’s like. When we are low on air, we take a rescue breath with our inhalers. Our airway is then clear and taking a breath doesn’t hurt our chest.

Well, the world needs an inhaler right now. We need a breath of positivity. We need the media to write the positive story and to stop glorifying the negative. We cannot conquer hate with hate. We must do so with love.

I know that in just a few hours I will be back at work and over 700 students (many with similar nightmares as my child) need me to bring a smile to their face. They need to be loved. They need me to be that Energizer Bunny that keeps going and going.

My battery will run out someday. I may even die in a terrorist attack, but until that day comes I will continue to pour positivity into the hearts of people. I will continue to tell kids that the world is an amazing place, and a church is a safe place. Good will conquer evil, but we must share the good more than the evil. We must continue to bring light where there is darkness, hope where there is despair, and courage where there is fear.

My son is sound asleep now. I have tremendous hope for him. His good dreams can become a reality, and unfortunately so can his bad dreams. I’ll never stop infusing positivity into him and all the other children I see daily. However, it’s 2:23am now and I’d like to continue my dreams before I awake for work. I’m going to dream that positivity such as this will be shared more than Stephen Paddock’s face. I’m going to dream of a media station that only writes and shows positive stories. I’m going to dream that if I decide one day to run for public office with the slogan “Make Common Sense Common Again,” that I will be elected. I’m going to dream of a better world for my kids and grandkids, and yes, if I dream it, I can achieve it.

Good night.

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