When you're a parent, you find yourself waffling between wondering if you can protect your child and vehemently declaring you're going to fix this scary world for them. But when they're at home, you're supposed to be able to let your guard down. Kids are safe at home, right? Tell that to the parents of the 11-year-old boy shot in his own home this week in St. Louis.
The fourth grader was doing what kids do -- sitting in his house, working on a computer -- when police say a gunman broke a window and shot into the room. Somewhere between 8 and 10 rounds were fired into a room that clearly had a child inside. One of those rounds struck Antonio Johnson in the head.
The 11-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene, although cops say they don't think he was the intended target. There was also a 4-year-old, a 7-year-old, two teens, and two adults home at the time of the attack.
They were -- fortunately -- unhurt. Police say one of the teens in the house had been shot before, and they suspect that teen may have been the target rather than Antonio.
There's small comfort in knowing someone didn't go out with the intention of killing an innocent 11-year-old ... I guess?
But the fact remains that this poor family has to bury a child because the sanctity of their home was violated, because someone shot into a house, a house full of children, and killed a little boy.
So much for feeling safe when your kids are at home, where you can keep an eye on them?
There's a saying you see often on the Internet about a mother's heart being outside of her body, walking around. It's a tad corny, but this sort of news just reminds me of how true it is at the end of the day. Life changes when you have kids in so many ways, but the biggest may be that sense of how fragile life has become. I recall driving home from the hospital with my newborn daughter and wondering how much it would really cost to buy a tank. I saw every car on the road as a potential problem for us.
We would drive ourselves nuts if we thought this way all the time, which is why we need a safe place, a house where our kids are -- for lack of a better term -- under our control. When someone violates that safe place, we're forced to face the truth: we can't protect our kids. We can't protect them from the monsters who exist out there.
Our only choice is to just keep on living and hoping and praying that the monsters pick on someone their own size.
My heart breaks for the Johnson family. I hope they find the person who did this to their little boy and put them away for the rest of their life.
Where is YOUR safe place with your kids? Is it your house?
Image via Daniel X O'Neill/Flickr