When I was a little boy, my mother and father told me to never talk to strangers. Never. Of course, we had the other talk about how babies are made, but I already knew that secret before they told me.
By the time I became a parent, the faces of children began appearing on milk cartons making "stranger danger" breakfast conversation.
What I don't understand is how our older son and his wife will explain school lockdown drills to their young children. Our 3-year-old granddaughter will begin school in about ten days. She's so tiny and innocent and I'm not looking forward to hearing her questions about gun violence. We talk about safety all the time in terms of boo-boos that can really hurt you. But not bullets and gunshot wounds.
Although we've discussed bad people who hurt others, we've never talked about armed attackers. I'm sure there will be a fire drill at school. She understands hot and cold and getting a burn at the stove. We've even talked a little about life and death when she spotted a dead robin on the sidewalk. But not the idea that someone can come into a theater, church, or preschool and savagely shatter lives by slaughtering people, including tiny children. I can't imagine telling her "Your teacher has a gun in case someone comes into the classroom and tries to shoot you and your classmates."
The thought reminds me there are children dodging bullets and bombs in war zones around the world, and parents who seek refuge for their families in other countries.
So, is it time to have that talk with a toddler ... or is it time to change our conversation about gun violence in America?