Friends of a dear friend of mine lost a child in the Parkland shooting last week. Alex Schachter was a 14-year-old freshman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School tragically killed during the mass shooting on February 14th. And among many other things, Alex loved food.
This is an excerpt from Alex’s eulogy, read to Alex’s lunch group by his father Max earlier this week:
He always told me he had so much fun eating lunch with you this year. He had all of his friends at the same table and this year he developed friends with a lot of new boys. Your bonds grew stronger each day and I am so happy you all could come over for Alex’s super bowl party. I am sorry you won’t be able drink my smoothies with Alex anymore, but you can come over anytime and we will make one together in his honor.
They used to always ask me: What do you put in this smoothie? It tastes so good! I’ll tell you one more time so when you make it at home you can think of Alex. Frozen strawberries, mango, blueberries, and Bai coconut water. That’s it! Simple and healthy. They would drink that stuff by the gallon at my house. Maybe when you all go home you can make one for your sons and daughters and we will drink it in Alex’s honor and call it the Alex smoothie.
I love the idea of an Alex smoothie so much. Especially because one of the best ways that I know how to talk to my kids about challenging topics is (can you guess?), over food.
Making food for my kids is an act of love, and sitting down to share what I’ve made provides me with an easy way to connect with them. When I need to talk to my children about something difficult, there’s something about doing it over a shared snack or meal that makes it easier. Food provides comfort and, on some level (that we may not even be aware of), it’s a reminder that, even though I’m the grown up, I’m just human operating on basic needs, too, and don’t always have the answers.
And for kids, being able to DO something helps process complicated feelings, like the way children made snowflakes after Sandy Hook. My 11 year-old son knows that there was a shooting, but he doesn’t know about what’s transpired since. I want him to know about Alex. About Alex’s classmates and the other young activists in our midsts. About the upcoming March for Our Lives. And about the other ways that we can help.
So I plan on talking to him this weekend. And I think we’ll start by making a smoothie. Alex’s smoothie.
If you’re considering talking to your kids about gun violence in America, check out our resource on talking to children about tragedies. And if, like me, you are also looking for more to do, check out the fantastic list of organizations doing important work around gun control that Liz and Kristen have put together and consider giving to the Alex Schachter Scholarship Fund, the proceeds of which are going to Alex’s beloved marching band, in which he played trombone and baritone, and also to help increase security at schools.