“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” — Mister Rogers
Parents. Teachers. Administrators. We are those helpers to each and every child who looks to and listens to us. But many of us wonder if we are up to the job in the coming days.
With so many emotions, interviews, thoughts, prayers and wonderings circulating the airwaves, internet and actual face to face conversation, we’re all grappling to make sense of what happened in the lives of so many in Connecticut last Friday. It will take everyone time to grieve and process; it will certainly not be a smooth and straight progression. The event will come to mark a time in our lives just as so many other tragic events before it have done.
With each of these seemingly inexplicable messages from the universe, we are called upon to be a little more human and a bit stronger. We are reminded once again of the fragility of life. It is a time to be that helper Mr. Rogers spoke of so many years ago. We need to reach out to each other for strength and compassion and be equally as willing to accept help with grace when offered to us.
This challenge is Herculean for many, but particularly for teachers, administrators and parents. Much as been written about what to say and how to respond – from the experts, the experienced, and those with good-old fashioned common sense. If you’re looking for resources in how to respond or how to help yourself, here are just a few that may be of comfort or information to you.
Each one of us has to make sense of this senseless event in our way, in our own time. For those charged with listening, working with, caring for and teaching children, the task is even more complex. Armed with resources to guide your listening and your conversation, listen to your heart. Let it shine. Keep things in perspective and don’t let tragedy and fear overcome you. Take comfort in your routines, your family, your friends, your students. Show children that when horrible things happen, we can overcome whatever it is and grow in many, many ways.
Children will look to you and listen to you, just as the child in the photo turned to Mr. Rogers.
Be their helper, be their light. You can do this. We can do this.