My children will tell you that I’m not just a reporter for eight hours a day, five days a week.
When I am not physically at work, I am trying to figure out ways I can use my job to teach them new things – things that will change their lives.
Last week’s unfortunate death of Elyria police Officer James “Jimmy” Kerstetter was no different.
For five days, nearly everything I wrote was about the 43-year-old officer who was killed in the line of duty. He died on Monday, March 15, while answering a call about a neighbor disturbance on the city’s south side.
His death immediately catapulted his family and the city into a state of mourning.
By Wednesday, I was honored with a sit-down interview with his family. It was an amazing interview that went beyond the 1,500 words that ran in the paper.
I knew walking out of door the words I heard in that room would stay with me forever.
The next day, I told my children all about Jimmy and used his life as the perfect example of how people should treat others, how important it is to do something they love and to remember that no matter when they leave this world, the most important thing is what they do while they are here.
I don’t relish the fact my job has me report on the worst moments in someone else’s life, but I respect the job for what it is and what it can do for families.
If you ever get in a car with my family and hear me scream out, “Seat belt check,” you should know it stems from another horrible story.
A little girl — nearly the same age as my daughter –died in a terrible accident on the Ohio Turnpike and she wasn’t wearing her seat belt. My daughter’s reaction to the story let me know that telling her was a good thing.
“Mommy, that little girl is never going to grow up and she is never going to do a lot of stuff just because she didn’t have on a seat belt,” she said.
I teach them humility and appreciation for what we have by letting them help with our annual Not Forgotten Box toy drive.
I teach them about the dangers of guns by sharing with them the story of 8-year-old Najia Boone, who was accidentally shot and killed by her 10-year-old brother. He found the gun at a relative’s house and decided he would bring it to his home to play with it.
Najia’s death was the tragedy that resulted. The day after it happened, I sat my children down and tried my best to explain to them how accidents have a way of changing your life forever.
“A little girl who loved to read, go to school, draw pictures and help her mommy with her little brother was gone, and everyone who loved her will never see her again,” I remember saying. “So, if you ever see a gun, never pick it up and go get a grown-up.”
People ask me all the time how I can be a mom and do this job.
But I think I am a better mom because I have this job.
I report the bad moments so that families like mine can have some good moments.
Check out www.LorainCountyMoms.com for more stories about the joys and trials of parenthood.