Every morning, my dad would drive me to the bus stop and we sat in silence, in the snow and the 22-hour darkness, waiting. I used to wonder why he couldn’t just drive me to school; the time would be the same. Maybe he hated the drive and was half-asleep every morning.

We were listening to the news on the radio when I heard the guy with the gun had been caught. The gun he was bringing for me to buy.

We are convinced there is nothing we can do. What if instead of listening to politicians, we listened to kids who were prevented from carrying out shootings?

I lost about five of my eight readers right there, when I mentioned listening to kids.

Most school shooters want to be stopped. That’s why, for months or years leading up to the killings, they talked about it constantly. They journaled, doodled, ran their mouths, talked about guns and killing and blood just to see who was listening. And nobody was, so they got louder. They started getting more literal in their statements; what will happen if this time I publish a hit list? They want an adult, someone, to intervene. What is it going to take for Mom/teacher/someone to ask me…”Are things unwell?”

But Mom and the teacher don’t have time, don’t notice, don’t want to. Mom thinks the kid “deserves privacy” so she’d never look at his phone that she pays for, the computer, his room; the places where her would-be mass murderer leaves all the evidence of what he is planning.

Both the child with the gun and I could have, should have been stopped before the gun ever crossed the school boundaries. But no one seemed to notice our disturbing behaviors that led to the incident in the first place.

Nobody was listening. We had to be louder.

Ignoring a teenager doesn’t teach them to stop needing attention. It teaches them they can get away with a lot and you won’t say anything.

It was once common sense: maybe if you get a phone or computer for a child, you should periodically make sure some adult isn’t sending him nudes and he’s not arranging to buy weapons. WHY is a parent somehow “not allowed” to look through a phone she has probably bought?

I wish my parents had looked through my things more often, or at all. I wanted to be stopped, and I was, but I wanted them to stop me. I wanted to feel like I actually had parents.

I see a lot of parents too afraid to offend their own kids, for fear the relationship between them will change (spoiler: it always will, and was meant to) or that the kids will “be mad.” So maybe make the damn kid mad! Who cares? What’s wrong with being mad? Go read your kid’s journal or email and then ask him about the girl he likes or what got him so upset at soccer practice or why he skipped class and watch him flip out!

But he’ll know you were listening. And he’ll get over it. Two days. A week. I got over wanting to buy a gun at school the instant I heard it wouldn’t happen after all; your underachieving son can get over his feelings being hurt.

I sat there in the car next to my dad as I was flooded with a massive sense of relief. He couldn’t have known. I went to school pretending like I hadn’t heard. There was an arrest, some suspensions, my name never came up. I think he brought the gun to show it off and probably decided on a whim to sell it.

I didn’t have a clear plan for the firearm, probably since I was fourteen and had never seen or touched a gun. But I had a hundred bucks saved up from carrying firewood.

I didn’t have a target in mind. It was just…them. School, life, everything. I wasn’t being heard.

Most likely, I still won’t be. Parents are as resistant to looking through their kids’ things as gun lovers are to even remotely suggesting that guns might be a factor in all these, uh, gun deaths. I have literally said I was a child who planned something similar and I wished my parents had snooped and everyone who hears this will think, but that wouldn’t work for MY kid…

What if it did? What if it’s the one thing you can do that you’re not doing? You could possibly have a hand in preventing people from getting shot to death in class, but you don’t want to offend someone?

Are you afraid he’ll call you a mean mom or something? What if, instead of things being “fair” in your household, things were set up to benefit the parents, and the children were just members of the household and didn’t have authority?

Granted, a lot of parents (myself included) are not able to keep up with technologically advanced children, and their children may be able to successfully conceal their purchases and other plans. But I’ll bet the teens who are shopping online pretending to be adults are buying weed bongs and naked-lady stuff, not things with which to kill a large group of people.

The kid who is planning that will leave clues that are very easy to find, and he wants you to find them.