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.

Adults have thrown up their hands and accepted this is how it is now; American children are just plain going to get shot in class every week and, well, hopefully next week it’ll still be someone else’s kid and not mine. We are convinced there is nothing we can do.

What if instead of listening to politicians, racists and gun…um…lovers, 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.

According to some psychology guy who listens to kids, most school shooters wanted 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 post “All y’all gonna die” since “Wanting to do something drastic” didn’t get Dad to notice? What will happen if 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. You know, 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. I wasn’t getting heard from setting things on fire anymore. What would maybe get me some attention for once?

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.

When did it become frowned upon to SNOOP in your child’s life? 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! I’m grinning right now, imagining this fictitious family and their snotty, entitled 15-year-old son who “has a right to do whatever [he wants]” and “is never trusting either of you ever again!” He’ll probably stick his earbuds in and stomp off, arms folded like a pouty little girl, lower lip stuck out, a victim of the Most Unfair.

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 little feelings being hurt.

Contrary to what gun lovers believe, after my plan was foiled I didn’t “just go buy another gun! They’ll just buy another gun, can’t ever take them away from anyone because THEY’LL BUY MORE, don’t you GET IT???”

Not only that, I didn’t immediately switch plans and go on a stabbing spree – something else gun lovers say will happen, every time, if you take the guns away. Everyone will stab everyone to death.

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 and a vague idea of how things were going to work, so that was a start.
1. Obtain firearm (not necessary to know what kind, or how the other student obtained it)
2. TBD
3. TBD
4. TBD
5. Then they’ll finally leave me alone!

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, Well, I’m glad she didn’t do it 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?

I’ll say something else very offensive: even if your kid buys his own phone, his own car, his own computer: you can and should still go through it. Doesn’t matter if the kid worked at McDonald’s and was super responsible with his money; you can still look at what he buys with it. 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 in any way?

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 just because something won’t work for everyone in all situations doesn’t mean there is no merit in trying it in some situations, like with your completely average kid.

Worst case scenario if you snoop and find nothing and the kid finds out: go!
Worst case scenario if you don’t snoop and don’t find what you were supposed to find…go.