Stepping slowly in 2013
Rita Papazian
Published: Wednesday, January 2, 2013

I feel as if we have slipped into 2013 a little quieter this year. Is it the economy and the fiscal cliff talks? Is it the snow on the ground and the cold in the air that keep us with our arms wrapped close to our bodies to comfort us? Or is it the 20 little children gunned down in their school room?

I hugged my grandchildren a little tighter these past two weeks and watched them more intently as they sat on the floor playing games with their cousins. I watched how two 7-year-old cousins, born just five weeks apart, raced through the mall, the day after Christmas, as they headed for Toys `R Us, each with a $25 gift card in their hand, a little extra gift I gave to them and their siblings.

The mall's expansive inner corridors gave them freedom to run yelping like puppy dogs as they rounded the corner and nearly slid into the toy store in excitement and anticipation of picking out a toy. They both were dressed in the capes I had given them the previous day along with a shield and sword to complement their imaginary play. I loved watching them as they ran around the store picking up and putting down toys as they decided how to spend the money. The hunt was as much fun as actually buying something new. As they picked up items they each checked with one another to see how the other one liked the toy, for it was obvious they were going to buy the same toy. They settled on a belt with a number of items hanging from it, including plastic toy handcuffs. They were happy. The cheap plastic belt and accessories amused them for hours as they engaged in their imaginary play.

During my grandchildren's holiday visit, I made sure I kept People magazine, the National Inquirer and other publications hidden away from their eyes. We adults made sure there was no discussion of the horror that took place in Newtown. My own children tried to shield their children from hearing about the tragedy, but somehow, someone, somewhere said something.

My 8-year old grandson who lives in Massachusetts had come home from school and said to his mother, "Did you hear about Connecticut?"

I could visualize a map of the states. Here is Connecticut with tears just filling up Long Island Sound. The tragedy ripped across the state and America and we will never be the same.

This tragedy isn't something you talk about to children. We can't even comprehend it ourselves. Oh yes, we will talk about gun control and mental health issues. We will hope that some good, somewhere will come from this, but doesn't it start with us in the everyday? Doesn't it start with the "Thank-you" and the "No, you go ahead first." I see the faces of those little children on the cover of People magazine as I'm driving around town. Someone races through the light as it is changing or blows the horn because someone delayed a few seconds in moving ahead after the light had changed? I sit in a theater waiting for a movie to start and everyone is looking down at their phones. I walk along the street in the city and people are walking while looking at their phones.

I am not ready to pick up the pace. I am stepping slowly into 2013. I need to think about this life a little more. I need to look around me a little more. I need to feel the cold and the snow beneath my feet. I need to look out the window at my 7-year-old grandson sitting on his old two-wheeler bike, which is missing a front tire, which he found next to the garbage. He had placed the bike with its one wheel in the snow and is moving his two feet as fast as he can. He is going nowhere but in his mind he is going somewhere; he is going everywhere because he can and 20 other children nearly his age cannot.

I am stepping slowly into this new year with the hope that I can love my grandchildren for many years to come and that their parents, their neighbors, their teachers and every adult who comes into their lives will protect, respect, teach and love them as well. We need to pay attention to do all that we can in our own neighborhood, town, state and country to no longer ignore the ills of society that strike down our children.

Rita Papazian is a freelance writer who has covered Norwalk extensively.

Copyright 2013 Rita Papazian All rights reserved.