9, age 9, the year we were first published! This happened in Mrs. Morton’s fourth grade class.

9 is in the fourth grade, Mrs. Morton’s class, with twenty-some other kids.


There’s Zoe, she’s my best friend, and Ron, that icky boy who sits behind me and glues my craft scissors together, and Jeri who’s always getting in trouble for talking too much. Mrs. Morton chased her around the room with a yardstick once.


I can see them all clearly, 9, like I was back there with you.


If you are reading this blog, chances are you were also in fourth grade at some point in time. Somehow, you miraculously survived that year. This week, not everybody in Uvalde, Texas, had that kind of luck. We all, of course, are sick with grief over this tragedy.


What’s wrong with people who kill little kids?

What’s wrong with people who kill anybody?


Good questions, 9 and Lily. I’m glad you two are back, and sorry it’s not under better circumstances.


There are so many threads and opinions, sorrows and angers surrounding what happened. Again. Something like 27 school shootings in the USA so far this year. This year. Let that sink in. We are permitting and allowing ourselves to be powerless in a self-inflicted horror show, a nasty slide into providing the means of mass execution to crazy, threatened, unstable people in the name of one of our many rights.


Tell me, reader, how can a person be both pro-gun and pro-life? If you argue that guns are to protect you and yours, can you also acknowledge that you are willing to take someone else’s life with your gun? I find this both illogical and hypocritical. That person you are willing to kill also has loved ones. Somehow, people who perpetrate mass killings believe their innocent victims, too, are a threat. It’s cut from the same piece of cloth.


A very high percentage of the mass murderers (in a mental state most of us, thankfully, can’t even imagine), who seem to believe their existence is threatened by a room full of schoolchildren and their teachers, are males aged 18-21. Through stubbornness and negligence, we, as a nation, permit these individuals to arm themselves with outrageously powerful weapons to make a quick and efficient job of killing the people who threaten them.


Also, many of the shooter profiles show they were bullied.


That’s one way we can help, regardless of how you feel about gun rights. 9, Lily, remember how Mom and Dad taught us to be toward the kids in school that other kids excluded or made fun of?


They said we should always defend the underdog.


Correct! You can verify this with my sister, who now is a public school teacher. So is my niece. They would do anything for their students. Fortunately, neither of them teaches fourth grade. But one of them teaches first grade. A decade since Sandy Hook and we still can’t get it right.


Someone killed first graders?


Yes, they did, Lily, and that shooter killed his own mother, too. The person in Uvalde, Texas, killed his grandmother before he headed for the school. At this point in the investigation law enforcement says his records show no sign of mental illness or past criminal activity. No one raised an eyebrow, apparently, when he bought his weapons and many, many rounds of ammunition. It’s now known that he was in contact with a 15-year-old girl in Germany that he’d met over the internet. In a video call he showed her the ammunition he’d purchased and indicated he had a big secret.


Was he trying to impress her? How sick!



I think so, too, Lily. But how did he get that way? It could have been something within him from birth (I’m suggesting something genetic, not the abstract notion that he was born “evil”). Maybe he was subjected to bullying.


This is where we all come in. This is where we all take up the simple day-to-day work of helping ensure all fourth graders have a chance of surviving to the fifth grade and beyond.


Be kind. Practice compassion for other people, and for yourself, too.


We’ve all screwed up on this in our lives. I can think of a bullying incident that I took part in as a rabid spectator in third grade, in spite of my parents’ teachings. But I also remember being a sophomore in high school and telling some popular girls who were saying incredibly cruel things about a classmate of ours who had a really rough family life to back off. We have to keep trying.


Fourth grade. You survived it and I survived it. Everyone should have the privilege of surviving it.

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