With every new update I read about Sunday's shooting at a Sikh temple there's one thing I keep wondering: Where were the kids? None of the people killed were children -- we do know that. But there were children in the building. It turns out some were in the basement celebrating a birthday. When they heard the gunshots they thought the sounds were fireworks, a breathtaking reminder of how innocent these kids were just moments before they learned the worst.
When they did find out, the kids ran out to try and warn their parents of the danger. Other children playing in a room with a window immediately ran to the nearby kitchen to warn women preparing lunch of the danger. The two children and 14 women crammed into a pantry. One of the women remembers, "They were telling all the women to be still and to be brave, and they were telling the women not to cry. They are the heroes who saved the women in the closet." Such bravery from children -- but I have mixed feelings about this.
On one hand, I'm so impressed at the children's courage and their concern for others. I would want that same kind of bravery and compassion in my own son. Well, in theory, anyway. I want my son to have those character traits. But do I always want him to act on them?
I don't think I'd want my son actually upstairs, running around with a gunman at large! I'd rather he stay in some safe place, far from harm. So I want both? A child who hides, but who is brave enough to face danger? That's... totally unrealistic.
I would also want my son to have the wisdom to judge a situation and decide whether it's a moment for valor or a moment for prudence. But that's a fantasy. The truth is, when a confusing, traumatic situation like this happens it's nearly impossible to be level-headed about making those decisions -- for an adult! Forget for a kid. I think all in all the parents of the children in the Sikh temple should be proud of their children AND incredibly grateful those children are still alive.
What would you want your child to do in a situation like this one?