When you first see Michigan mom Stacey Wehrman Feeley’s Facebook pic of her 3-year-old daughter standing on the toilet, you smile and think, "aw — what's that cheeky little girl up to?"
Then you read Feeley's post, and realize the truth. The cold, hard truth is that what looks like a preschooler getting up to mischief is actually a preschooler practicing for a lockdown drill. This is what the kids have been told to do if they get stuck in a bathroom at preschool.
Feeley took the picture because she initially thought it was funny and wanted to share it with her husband. When her daughter told her what she was doing, Feeley "broke down." What mom wouldn't?
Feeley has used the emotive image as part of an open letter to the government and the NRA, pleading for change — for better gun control, for better mental health services, for a pledge to do something that will help our children live the lives they should and not live in fear of a shooting.
Her post has gone viral, and among the hundreds of comments one stands out, from a teacher who confirmed that young children are going through this all over the country. "I sat in bathrooms running these drills with my 3-6 year old students, trying to alleviate their confusion and fear by telling them that it was just like we were playing a game — we were pretending to hide from our administrator, 'just like hide and seek,' and had to be super quiet… What a surreal nightmare to practice with young children," wrote Laura Susan Bird.
Feeley’s concerns are echoed by millions of moms in America, many of whom are involved in Moms Demand Action, a movement set up to give moms committed to fighting the NRA on its gun policies a collective voice. Whether you are pro- or anti-gun ownership, it's undeniable that there are many steps that could be taken to improve gun control — universal background checks and a universal registration database for starters.
Of course we all want our kids to be safe at preschool (and school, and college, and any public place they might be.) But surely there has to be a better way to deal with gun crime than to expect a 3-year-old to be able to balance on a toilet seat — in complete silence — without falling.
What message is this sending to our kids? That the world is a dangerous place and even in preschool — possibly the safest place they could ever hope to be — they have to be on alert for hatred?
Nobody has the answer, but surely it’s worth working damn hard to find a better solution than this.
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