As did so many of us, I woke this morning to the reports of tragedy in Colorado.
So much violence, so many lives changed.
There was a great deal of conversation on social media about the ages of some of those attending, as the media had latched on to the 3 month old who was injured in the shooting. Or not injured, but taken to the hospital as a precaution. I’m not really sure, as the media reports on the child are conflicting as I write this. Either way, a 3 month old was present at this midnight showing, as were (reportedly) kids ranging in ages like six and nine. The mere presence of the infant has caused a bit of grumbling amongst the masses.
Lots of armchair parenting, frequently from people who are not parents themselves.
Here’s the thing, from my perspective. I have two sons, nine and 11, and a daughter who is eight. We go to drive-in movies, and by their mere nature, the first movie doesn’t start until around 10:00pm, and the second movie of the drive-in double feature usually wraps up between 1:30 and 2:00am. We have made it a point, as part of our summer, to attend at least one drive-in show each year since 2007, when my daughter was 3.
Now, I recognize that the drive in is “different” and more “family friendly” than going to something like a midnight release of Dark Knight Rising, but there’s some transition here, so bear with me a minute, k?
When one becomes a fan of a franchise like Batman, or Harry Potter, or Star Wars or Star Trek or Lord of the Rings or whatever it is that you’ve picked, there are experiences that you may have that are opportunistic. There are times when you KNOW you can join up with like-minded people and share in those experiences. Premieres? They count. And kids? Like Batman. We don’t go to movie theaters as a general rule, but if my sons were WAY into the Batman franchise? We could have been at a theater last night.
Young people, maybe even new parents, also could be way into Batman. And little ones? They’re pretty easy to keep satisfied. They also already have totally whacked sleep schedules, meaning said parents also have totally whacked sleep schedules. Do I think taking the infant to the movie was wrong?
I think you had a parent or parents who wanted to get out, enjoy the experience, and took the baby with them. I know LOTS of parents who are not comfortable entrusting their newborn with someone else, or who are exclusively breastfeeding, or whatever, and so they go and do things, and experience life, WITH THEIR CHILD. Because that’s how they’ve chosen to parent. And good for them. Good for them for living their lives, and still being parents. Who am I to judge that? Yes, even at midnight. I’d certainly prefer that to the parent arrested in my town yesterday after her two year old died from traumatic brain injuries and allegations of horrible abuse came out. I prefer it to the disengaged parents who don’t interact with their children at all. I prefer it to the parents I’ve read about who leave very young children at home alone, or in a vehicle, while they go on and do the things they want to do.
Does that mean it’s right for everyone? Nope. Perhaps it’s not the choice you or I would have made, perhaps our parenting styles are different. But what is right for you or me may not be for someone else.
It is our differences that help us raise our children to be strong, unique individuals. The differences that help us learn and grow as a society.
If we spent less time pointing fingers at what we perceive as parenting failures by others, and more time BEING parents to our own kids, this world would be a better place.
For now, I suggest we hold the people of Aurora, the families and friends of all those affected, in our thoughts and prayers. Pray for the survivors, for healing and for hope. And hug those you love, for we never know what tomorrow may hold.