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Fighting for Joy

Katiedid Langrock on

I walked into my 5-year-old's classroom to pick him up before the final bell rang. He ran to greet me, followed by his teacher, who looked stern.

"I thought you should know, your son has been telling the other students that you are" -- she lowered her voice to a whisper -- "a witch."

I looked at my child and spoke with anger: "You've been telling kids I'm a witch?"

A big smile spread across his face, and he giggled, unfazed. "Yeah."

"You shouldn't tell kids that!" I leaned down so we were face-to-face, and with a whisper, I said, "You wouldn't want your friends to get jealous."

I winked at my son. He nodded and winked back.

We walked out of the classroom, hand in hand, giggling. I looked back at his teacher, whose face was contorted in complete bewilderment.

My son believes I'm a witch. And I am grateful.

He developed the theory after coming home from day care a couple of years ago terrified of the nursery rhyme about Little Bunny Foo Foo. He was scared that the next time he didn't listen, a witch would turn him into a goon. To quell the nightmares, I told him that if that ever happened, I would simply turn him back. When my son asked how, I replied, "Don't you know? I have special powers."

His unflinching belief in my powers has served us well -- especially when it comes to scary times. Especially when it comes to horrors like the massacre in Las Vegas.

My first visit to Las Vegas left its mark. While I was entering my parents' car after it had baked in the summer heat, my bare back pressed against the metal seat belt. It seared my skin, forever leaving me with a squared figure eight on my lower back. Even at 14, I couldn't leave Las Vegas without a "tramp stamp."

The Las Vegas Strip is an adult playground destination, visited by the joy-seekers of the world. And it is the joy-seekers they most love to kill. These terrorists are after not only our lives but also our heartbeats. The beats we move to when we sing and dance. When we attend concerts in Manchester or clubs in Orlando. When we vacation in Barcelona. Have dinner with a loved one in Paris. Go to the movies in Aurora. They aren't just after our lives; they're after what makes us feel alive, so that even if we're breathing, we're dead. Whether you approve of the ways people seek joy in Vegas -- gambling, drinking, eating in excess, shopping extravagantly, playing golf on green courses in the middle of the desert, going to a strip club, attending expensive shows -- it really doesn't matter. I'm confident no sin has ever happened in Sin City greater than the sin that occurred Oct. 1.

The NRA says we have the right to own semiautomatic rifles because we have the right to protect ourselves. Guns are a safety measure, like seat belts. And they can kill and harm, just as seat belts do each year. Look at how that seat belt branded my back. But seat belts save astronomically more people than they harm each year. Seat belts aren't made with the intent of producing mass casualties.

A few hours before 22,000 people fled for their lives and 58 didn't make it, my son and I attended a meditation for world peace. We talked about energy and the power of positivity over fear and rage, about how hate can only grow where it can feed on more hate. We talked about how evil surrounded by love has no power.

It's easy to say that stuff to a 5-year-old; he thinks you are full of magic and doesn't hold you accountable.

But this time, I will try to hold myself accountable to live by all the things I teach my son -- to remember that there are always more good people than bad, that we are a world of cape-less heroes. I will not spiral into hate or fear. I will hold myself accountable to relentlessly, fearlessly and tirelessly fight to retain joy, to fight for what's right, and to remember we are far from powerless. It's not easy. It's really hard. But together, we can be the heroes we're waiting for.

My son believes I'm a witch. And I am grateful.

He believes I have special powers -- the power to stop nightmares, the power to change his world. I hope I never let him down.

I hope we never let him down.

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Katiedid Langrock is author of the book "Stop Farting in the Pyramids," available at http://www.creators.com/books/stop-farting-in-the-pyramids. Like Katiedid Langrock on Facebook, at http://www.facebook.com/katiedidhumor. To find out more about her and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

 

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