How can you read that?

I’m sure we’ve all been asked this question before.

For me, the first time was in 6th grade when I started reading Sweet Valley High books. My mom called them Sweet Valley Trash. “How can you read that?” she’d ask me.

In more recent years,  I asked that of my friends. First for Twilight and then for Fifty Shades. I gave them both a shot. Twilight sucked me right in. Fifty Shades? I couldn’t even read fifty pages.

Last night, I started reading Sue Klebold’s new book, A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the name, Sue Klebold is the mother of Dylan Klebold, one of the two gunmen who entered Columbine High School on 20 April 1999.

“This is really difficult to read,” I told my husband.

He knows that even discussing school shootings can be difficult for me, let alone reading about them. “How can you even read that book?” he asked.

When my oldest was in Kindergarten, he came home one day. “Mom, we had an intruder drill at school today,” he announced, in his sweet little boy voice. “We had to all get together and hide in the bathroom with the lights out. We had to be very quiet so that a bad guy couldn’t find us.”

This made me cry.

When my youngest was in Kindergarten, Sandy Hook happened. My little guy’s classroom was the first door you hit upon entering the building, before you even got to the front office. It was terrifying to send him to school each day after that. I was so glad when he went to first grade down the hall the next year.

I was volunteering at the school library one day when an intruder alert started. It was just a drill, but we were not told that. I was in a locked room, windows papered over, crouched in a corner with a second grade class who had been in the library. One of the boys whispered, “Is this real? I’m scared.” That broke my heart, and it was all I could do not to start crying right then and there.

I have friends who are teachers at and I know teens who attend Arapahoe High School and Mountain Vista High School. Vista (who just had a serious threat in December) is just a few miles from my boys own middle and high school.

One of my good friends is a music teacher at an elementary school. One night she was telling us about how she can’t use the new Smart Board they installed for her in her music room, which I think is one of the first rooms in her building. “In order to use it, I have to have my back to the door. I can’t do that. If someone were to come into my school, I need to be able to protect my kids. I can’t do that if I can’t see the door and know what’s going on at all times.” She went on to tell us about how those kids are her responsibility, and she would literally shield them with her own body if necessary. She has three children of her own.

Violence at school is a serious, scary threat. At least, it is here in Colorado.

After Columbine I wondered, how could the parents have missed this? How could they not have known? Didn’t they see any signs, any preparation? I know many were asking the same questions. Yet these events continue to occur in our society. And now Ms. Klebold has bravely stepped forward to tell her story with the hope of helping others.

“How can you even read that book?” my husband asked me.

I looked at him and replied, “Because I’m a mother.”

4 thoughts on “How can you read that?

  1. Great post. My boyfriend asked me that question when I was reading Ken Corbett’s “A Murder Over a Girl” last week. Books about violence in schools are always difficult reads, but it’s something of a moral imperative for me– as though I have to read or understand some of these stories to better understand the world that I live in.


  2. Pingback: TTT: Best of 2016! (So far!) | Hidden Staircase

  3. Pingback: A Mother’s Reckoning | Hidden Staircase

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