One snowy Christmas morning we woke up at our usual early hour to enjoy the wonder of what ‘Santa’ had brought. My father opened the front door to look at the heavy snow that had fallen during the night; we all heard his gasp and the words, “What the devil is that?” The house across the street had snow piled up to the roof line. No windows or doors were visible. The yard was nearly emptied of its heavy snowfall.
Our only brother was smirking in the background; it was obvious he knew what had happened. The owners of the property had promised him and his friends the job of shoveling their snow. When they returned at the requested hour to shovel the snow, it was done. They were angry. During the night they had met and emptied the yard of the snow, piling it to the rooftop as a childish prank. Our mother insisted he gather his friends and return the snow to the yard and apologize. He was furious, feeling the neighbor had wronged him and should pay. Our Mother said the words she used so many times in our lifetime, “We’re not that kind of people.”
She reminded us each time we threatened to seek revenge for anything, attempted to belittle anyone or in any way denigrate another person; “We’re not that kind of people.” It was important back then to teach your children what kind of people they were, where they came from and what their moral foundation was.
Somewhere since that time, for various reasons including the economy, it became the norm and likely necessary for both parents to work. It left no one burning the home fires for the family. Technology intercepted our lives as this trend grew. Suddenly, video games and social media were babysitting the children, keeping their minds occupied while we went to work and out to complete whatever task was on our list. Were they teaching them what kind of people they could become?
We lost the ability to sleep outdoors in homemade tents, to leave the windows open at night without being concerned about the children disappearing, to allow our children to chase lightening bugs after dark or go trick-or-treating alone; we could no longer even trust the school bus stop to be safe.
Suddenly a few disturbed students at Columbine shook us to our core. It was only the beginning of a horror we have grown accustomed to; one that grew to include mortal danger at work, movie theaters, malls, public events, restaurants and even small innocent children at school. We have been losing our innocence since this breakdown began.
Maybe it’s time to begin reminding our children of what kind of people they are when their ideas extend beyond what is acceptable. Is it possible that the loss of our innocence begins when we fail to teach and remind our children of whom they really are, where they came from and what we expect them to become?