“A Mother’s Reckoning” by Sue Klebold, mother of Columbine killer.

I knew I had to read it. I favourited the NY Times tweet with the intention of getting into it when I had time to click on the link: “Readers respond to “A Mother’s Reckoning,” the memoir by Sue Klebold, mother of Columbine killer Dylan Klebold http://nyti.ms/21bYr0z  

It had happened in 1999, the most horrific school shooting in the USA in history. I remember watching the horror story unfold on CNN. It was easy to try to make sense of the unimaginable tragedy with the “mentally ill white boy raised by naive idiot parents who didn’t do their job” dismissal that I was going to use again and again to explain the all too frequent occurrences of mass shootings in the USA. 

But here was a well written and reasoned review of a memoir penned by the mother of one of the teen-aged killers, a boy who took his own life too and I was intrigued. I suspended judgement long enough to be curious about her own processing of the events that took place and the role of her offspring in them, and by extension, therefore,  her own role in the tragedy.

I bought her book.


And last night, waking up drenched in sweat (that’s happening more and more frequently these days…did somebody say perimenopause?) I quietly exited our bedroom and took up residence on the couch with the book. I am only a third of the way through, and maybe I’ll do a full review when I finish the book. But I’m compelled to share my thoughts at this stage:

Sue Klebold is extremely articulate. This may seem like a trite observation to do with the horror story that she’s writing about. But it is important. Her use of language and choice of words leave you with no questions as to what she’s trying to say. It allows for the reader to enter her space and mind and form their own conclusions. She’s not looking for absolution. She’s not looking to unburden herself. She’s not trying to protect her son. She is simply adding extremely valuable data to a conversation that is mandatory in today’s society

We do the best we can as parents. Sure there are horrid parents:abusive, substance abusers, mentally ill persons incapable of nurturing the ones in their care, etc. etc. But most of us try to do the best we can with our children, hoping and praying that they turn out healthy, happy and fulfilled. Listen, we don’t get a manual with each child. And we act and react with filters brought about by our own experiences, dreams and fears. It’s all we can do. And for most of us, our imperfect actions come from a place of perfect motive, that of love for our children. And yet in Sue Klebold’s case, what she got was a son who took lives and dreams, and shattered families including his/her own. Why? Why? Why?

Love: it keeps us going. In the weeks and months following the shooting at Columbine, as Sue Klebold tried to understand, to mourn, grappling with grief and guilt, as she navigated her forever altered existence through the fog and haze of a mind and soul trying desperately to cope, close friends and family supported her with love, practical love. They reminded the Klebolds that they were loved. They cooked for them. They shielded them from the understandable hate directed in full force towards them. They helped them screen calls. They took them into their houses. They helped her mourn the son she lost. They attended without judgement as she faced the inevitable guilt she felt. 

I found myself crying, having to put down the book at least 3 times to sort out my own reactions to what I was reading and to wipe my eyes so I could go on. I wept with regret for the mistakes I have made as a parent. I wept hoping and praying that God Himself would compensate for my own human weaknesses and mistakes that I made in tending to the blessings and gifts he had bestowed upon me in the form of my children. I prayed for wisdom. I wept with the complete understanding of what True Love is, myself having been buttressed from below, above and around at a very difficult time in my life by love devoid of judgement. Without love my own story could have had a very different ending.

And so I read on, intrigued by her own story. It is a tough story to tell and I am glad that she has done it.

GUEST BLOGGER: MISS WORLD! and her tale of having a cheap parent.

She did this a couple of years ago… I discovered it on her blog. I got permission to post it to my Facebook wall then, and now I’m sharing it here.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did 🙂  She really, really, rocks.

Oh, the joys of having a cheap parent. (cont’d) From Rachael to Mom

August 13, 2011 at 7:35pm

As I get ready to tag along with my mother to bookstores, shoe stores and uniform stores this weekend in preparation to slave away for another 10 months (hoping you can get how excited I am), I declared to her multiple times in ADVANCE that I was picking the stores and I was choosing the items, much to her dismay, because it’s become quite obvious to both of us that I inherited NONE of my mother’s cheapness. Read this story and enjoy the shock, horror and embarrassment I felt one year ago! 😀
It was mid to late August and we were finishing up back-to-school shopping. Since all the major textbooks were bought already, we decided to stop at a Woolworth to pick up stationery and art supplies from the wide array of low-priced, slightly to moderately damaged, made-in-China inventory. Halfway through shopping, my mom tells me to go and look for notebooks. I automatically head for the nice, decent looking Mead hardcover ones.
“$129 for one? That’s not SO bad…”
Meanwhile, my mom immediately heads for the Clearance section, and she just so happens to see a stack of 7 notebooks, all wrapped up nicely in plastic; $550 for all 7, which is actually a really good price for 7 books. She knows the store wants to get rid of the books quickly, explaining the cheap price, which obviously meant there must be a flaw somewhere, but the price was just too good (cheap?) to resist. Also, at the top of the stack, the BACK of one book was showing, not the front, which also should have raised a red flag. One book would cost around $80, and for my US followers, one book would be around 93 cents, making the total cost of all 7 books come up to about $6.50. 7 Mead books would cost $903 ($10.62 US).
A $353 difference? I knew there was NO WAY my mom was budging on this one. While we’re paying for the stuff, the cashier says to my mother:
“You sure you want these books? The pages tear easily”
“Yes, we’ll take them!” She even turned to me and curtly instructed: “Handle them with care.”
Ugh.
“Well, it won’t be so bad”, I thought as I walked out of the store.
Boy, was I dead-ass WRONG.
The Saturday before the first day of school, I was packing my bag with some of the stuff we’d gotten from Woolworth. As I tore the plastic off the books, I made a truly terrifying, shocking discovery that immediately triggered my “pissed off” senses.
Spiderman.
I started panicking as I frantically looked through the rest of the books. 2? Spiderman. 3? Spiderman. 4, 5, 6, 7. All 7 books had Spiderman on the front cover.
My mom had bought me 7 Spiderman books.
Pissed off as all hell, I took one and showed it to my mom. She started DYING of laughter. This wasn’t helping at all. (“Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry! I didn’t realize! Well I’m not buying you new books!”)
To make matters worse, my brother kept on begging me for one for weeks! >.
My lunch group laughed at me when they asked me why I had Spiderman books and I had to tell them why, and I kinda had no choice but to laugh along with them. I even started cracking up when I was writing this!
The second day of school I immediately headed to the school bookstore and bought 7 more Mead hardcover books and used them for more major subjects like Math and Physics. When I carried the Spiderman books, I carried them face DOWN at all times. But the most gut-wrenching experience I had with those books was when I had to make one of them my English Language book. Whenever I had a piece of work to submit and everyone would put their books on the teacher’s desk at once, I just put mine up there really quickly without looking into my teacher’s face. You don’t know how it killed me inside to do that :$ (and that cashier was definitely right about the pages)
I can now emphatically say DAT NAH REACH ME AGAIN DIS YEAR!

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