It’s Mrs. SoarBlue, again. Remember when I promised to post a couple of times a week? Well, I wrote the posts, it was the posting that got tricky. Apparently it’s really easy to post the first time, but then trying to link a second post can be a challenge – if you’re me. My job title is “Media Specialist,” by the way. Please don’t tell this to my boss. Anyway, there are these professional smart computer guys that can rescue you and I love them now. Here’s the next blog post – whoo hoo!
Everyone has those days in their lives that they will always remember – weddings, births of children, graduation, etc. Our family is not any different. In fact, I think birthdays go a little over-the-top in our house because Kevin and Will share a birthday (for real!), and Emma has a way of making for birthday drag out for an entire month, like she’s Washington or something.
For SoarBlue, our formative days are a little different.
I spent eleven years on the PTO at my children’s elementary school. That’s what happens when your children are born five years apart. I referred to it as “Hotel California” because “you can check out anytime you like but you can never leave.” Each year I said I was not going to have an office, and then I’d find myself doing something like organizing Teacher Appreciation Week or setting up a “Fun Run.”
On December 14, 2012, when I was PTO President, all the school officers were getting a tour of the newly renovated high school in our district. Our tour was interrupted with the news of the Sandy Hook shooting, and all of us decided we needed to stop and go home. I also worked during that time as a substitute teacher at the same elementary school, and I was in the classrooms for the endless evacuation drills that followed. We do a lot of unpleasant things in school – testing, flu shots, to name a few – but they can all be remedied with a sucker or a sticker. Evacuation drills have no remedy. When you are taking kids through the woods and telling them to be quiet so the shooter doesn’t find us, or practicing going to a quiet corner and having the students be quiet and still so the shooter won’t know we’re in the room, it is terrifying, and you can’t fix that. I held children’s hands. I’ve hugged students while we were crouched down. I’ve comforted my own children at night while we talked about what happened. They were all beyond frightened. Me too.
When Will was in eighth grade, another student brought a loaded handgun to school. This student was in Will’s third hour class and and sat next to him. He had moved here from Memphis, and had a hard time making friends and fitting in. Kids had bullied him and alienated him, but Will had talked to the boy and even helped him with his homework. The student sat next to Will all during third hour with that loaded gun in his backpack. Afterwards, another student somehow found out about the gun and alerted the school resource officer, who chased the boy out of the school and down the block where he tackled him. I had received a phone call from a police friend while all of this was taking place, and I remember sitting in my pantry, crying and praying. Will was shocked and in disbelief that the student could have brought a gun to school. He went through junior high in a beautiful naive state (he didn’t think kids were kissing – not even the pregnant girl on the bus…). The waking up to reality was sad and disappointing for me because, like Will, I enjoy naivety. I like to think that the classroom is for learning and the woods are for enjoying nature. Not for hiding out.
Kevin took a “staycation” last fall after having a particularly hectic summer season. On October 1, I got up for work and turned on the news, and saw what had happened in Las Vegas. I immediately woke up Kevin, and that’s when something in him snapped. Kevin tells it best, but he’s not writing the blog. My kids say he had a midlife crisis because, hey, any chance to dog on Daddy. I think Kevin found his purpose (and no, not like in “The Jerk”). Kevin joined Moms Demand Action, he started campaigning for Gunsense candidates, and he developed the idea for SoarBlue.
His idea was to create t-shirts that carried the messages of the Democratic party, that people would be proud to wear. You see people everywhere wearing shirts with their home states on them, their favorite teams, or concert t-shirts, but no one really wears shirts about what they believe politically. And, most of the political shirts you could buy were shirts you wouldn’t want to wear in public. The messages were crude, offensive, or just downright obscene. Kevin wanted positive messaging on quality shirts, and he decided to give back a portion of all profits to Everytown for Gun Safety.
Will this make make things easier? No. I’ve spent the past few weeks listening to the news about the recent shootings in our nation. I had active shooter training at my school last Wednesday. It’s not going away. We don’t have a sucker to give out or a sticker to put on this, but we are trying to do our part. If everyone could do something – a little something – maybe things would get easier. Maybe my son wouldn’t call the beginning of school “the start of hunting season,” He doesn’t say this as a joke. He has taught Emma not to sit by the door because that’s where the shooter could enter. He’s taught her to look for closets and windows. He’s taught her to look for places in the room that you could crawl underneath. Emma came home after her first day of school, and when I asked he how was her first day, she said, “I looked around each class and found hiding places in four of my classrooms. I’ve got to figure out the other rooms.”
Join Moms Demand Action. Go Vote. Have a look at our “Stop Gun Violence T-Shirt.” Go to a local school board meeting. And you can have a sucker while you’re doing this.