By Charlotte Kaufman of charlottekaufman.com
My seven-year-old daughter says, “Mom, I know why there are no Power Rangers on this planet.”
“Oh?” I cock my head and wait to hear her wisdom. She nods affirmatively.
“Because there has never been evil here. Once evil happens, then they’ll come for real.”
My mouth drops open. I have no poker face but I try, quickly, to regain my composure. She turns back to the TV as the next episode starts. I turn away too and think, Have I failed her? Have I failed as a parent? My child thinks there is no evil around us. I’ve never had a 7-year-old. Maybe they are just too innocent to understand world events her father and I discuss or that she hears about on the news. When I was seven I still believed in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy.
Then it hits me: if I had been raising her in religion, she’d know evil. By age 7 she would have read all about fathers who give their daughters to be gang-raped, brothers who beat and murder their siblings, and parents who would sacrifice their children in the name of their God. I still remember the horror I felt as I realized what was happening when Abraham bound up Isaac and raised up his knife. ‘Parents would murder their kids for God?’ I never looked at my parents the same way again and walked warier in the world after understanding those verses.
After Vegas, I tell my daughter about the shooting. “You’ll probably hear people talking about it in school so I wanted to tell you first.”
“Why would he do that? Was he trying to take over the city?” I pause before I answer her. She is brushing her teeth now and can’t hear me anyway over the electric toothbrush. Her eyes follow my face, though. Some people will blame this on mental illness, some on guns. It wasn’t terrorism because he wasn’t Muslim (duh). He was going through a divorce. He ‘just snapped,’ you know how divorces are, sometimes you just snap and massacre people.
Really, though, he killed people because it was his sacred right to have guns. The white men who wrote our constitution enshrined this right into it. Lone wolf shooters have the sacred right to snap and murder people. It is written in the 2nd amendment. It is holy. It cannot be touched.
I shake my head and say, “We’ll have to wait to find out more. We’re still waiting for news but he is dead. I know that.” My 4-year-old was listening. She asks, “Did the alive people see the dead people? Were any little girls killed?”
“I don’t know. We don’t know yet.”
“I hope there were no babies.”
Please open your hymnals to the 2nd amendment and sing what is written there. We all open our mouths but what comes out is screaming.
I drive them to school. I used to listen to NPR but I don’t since the election. Every time I hear the man whom my country men and women elected President, I am re-traumatized over and over. I don’t hear his voice, I hear my father’s. I don’t hear Paul Ryan or Mitch McConnell, I hear the church leaders telling me, “It’s time for you to go back home. Your father is better now. He won’t touch you again and he is your father.” Religion taught me all about evil.
I turn down the music as we pull up and I tell my oldest how much I love her. I look her in the eyes. I tell her every day that I love her but I draw out each word and squeeze her arm as I say, “I. Love. You.”
She gets out and walks into a building where she too may become enshrined one day as a martyr to our national religion. If a man ‘just snaps’ and walks in and kills her and her classmates and the teachers our country will clutch at our chests and cluck, “He was going through a divorce, he was mentally ill, and we didn’t see this coming.”
Every day that my children leave my house I think, ‘Will they be sacrificed to the thing that matters more to Americans than their own children? Their babies? Their mothers and fathers?’ Abraham’s knife plunges down over and over and the thoughts and prayers come rolling in. It was God’s Will, you see. He has a plan. Amen.
Before I pull away she runs back to the window and I roll it down. “Mom, don’t worry, okay?” My worry has been scrawled across my face all morning. “Maybe now the Power Rangers will come.”
I try to smile a true, happy smile for her and she waves and runs towards the door. I start sobbing and my four-year-old in the back asks me if I’m okay. We drive off.
Oh beautiful for spacious skies.
This post was originally published on Charlotte Kaufman’s Facebook page.
About the Author
Charlotte Kaufman grew up in Alaska and started traveling internationally at the age of 16. A sailor since 2005, she and her family were part of a dramatic at-sea rescue that caused an international media firestorm about sailing & parenting. Charlotte is the founder of Women Who Sail, a group of over 14,400 female sailors. Her work has appeared in San Diego Magazine detailing how living aboard and raising kids on a sailboat is both an adventure and has many similarities to modern, land-based families. After losing their sailboat, she and her husband moved to Mammoth Lakes, California, swapping adventures at sea for the mountains. In 2017 she founded Mammoth Women Writers, a writing group dedicated to building a community of women and gender non-conforming writers in the Eastern Sierras. She can be found at www.charlottekaufman.com and on Facebook and Twitter.