Col. Bill Badger has been around guns more than the average citizen, but being shot in the head during a mass shooting and surviving to tell the tale has given him a unique perspective.
Their connection is romantic comedy worthy.
When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.
The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.
Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.
“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”
Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.
Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲♬ iris -
“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”
Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”
The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.
"No the chills I got omggg."
"This is the cutest thing I have watched."
"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"
In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.
Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.
They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."
"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.
A simple idea with big impact.
School should feel like a safe space. But after the tragic news of yet another mass shooting, many children are scared to death. As a parent or a teacher, it can be an arduous task helping young minds to unpack such unthinkable monstrosities. Especially when, in all honesty, the adults are also terrified.
Katelyn Campbell, a clinical psychologist in South Carolina, worked with elementary school children in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting. She recently shared a simple idea that helped then, in hopes that it might help now.
The psychologist tweeted, “We had our kids draw pictures of scenery that made them feel calm—we then hung them up around the school—to make the ‘other kids who were scared’ have something calm to look at.”
For Teachers/Therapists: I worked in a CT elementary school when Sandy Hook happened.
What helped: We had our kids draw pictures of scenery that made them feel calm—we then hung them up around the school—to make the “other kids who were scared” have something calm to look at.
— Dr. K8 PsyD (@psych_k8) May 25, 2022
“Kids, like adults, want to feel helpful when they feel helpless,” she continued, saying that drawing gave them something useful to do.
It also took some pressure off to focus on making “other kids” feel better. Campbell noted that even if they are scared, it’s “easier to talk about the ‘other kids.’”
Rather than use the word “safe,” which can “be a loaded concept for kids who never feel safe,” Campbell used “calm,” and “peaceful,” which really resonated with the students.
But really, it gave the kids something to “do” that felt useful. Kids, like adults, want to feel helpful when they feel helpless. And they loved the idea that they could help “other kids” feel better (they were the scared ones, but it’s easier to talk about the “other kids”)— Dr. K8 PsyD (@psych_k8) May 25, 2022
Pretty soon, the school was filled with “rainbows, beaches, pretty flowers, playgrounds, and happy scenery,” which stayed up for weeks.
“I’m pretty sure it helped the adults too,” she quipped.
Art therapy can be a valuable tool for any age, but it can be particularly beneficial for children who (hopefully) have not had the complex, hard-to-articulate emotions that come as a result of trauma. As psychologist Cathy Malchiodi explains in her book “The Art Therapy Sourcebook,” “the language of visual art—colors, shapes, lines, and images—speak to us in ways that words cannot.”
Incorporating a sense of helping others and focusing on “calm” images was another brilliant layer Campbell added onto her exercise, and she soon received a flood of support for her suggestion. Overall, people were relieved and inspired.
“Beautiful use of a simple mindfulness practice to foster peace, calm, and altruism-all important in times of crisis. Thanks for sharing,” one person wrote.
“Honestly the idea made me feel like a breath of fresh air. Such a sweet and positive thing, so simple but effective,” wrote another.
The massacre at Robb Elementary in Ulvade, Texas, is the second-deadliest elementary school shooting in the United States, following Sandy Hook in 2012. There’s no way around these statistics. It’s nauseating and horrific. I feel for the parents and teachers trying to fight for change, protect their children and keep up morale all at the same time. Happy doodles might seem trivial during such a dark period for humanity, but as Campbell can attest, they do make a difference.
It never fails. After a tragic mass shooting, social media is filled with posts offering thoughts and prayers. Politicians give long-winded speeches on the chamber floor or at press conferences asking Americans to do the thing they’ve been repeatedly trained to do after tragedy: offer heartfelt thoughts and prayers. When no real solution or plan of action is put forth to stop these senseless incidents from occurring so frequently in a country that considers itself a world leader, one has to wonder when we will be honest with ourselves about that very intangible automatic phrase.
Comedian Anthony Jeselnik brilliantly summed up what "thoughts and prayers" truly mean. In a 1.5-minute clip, Jeselnik talks about victims' priorities being that of survival and not wondering if they’re trending at that moment. The crowd laughs as he mimics the actions of well-meaning social media users offering thoughts and prayers after another mass shooting. He goes on to explain how the act of performatively offering thoughts and prayers to victims and their families really pulls the focus onto the author of the social media post and away from the event. In the short clip he expertly expresses how being performative on social media doesn’t typically equate to action that will help victims or enact long-term change.
Of course, this isn’t to say that thoughts and prayers aren’t welcomed or shouldn’t be shared. According to Rabbi Jack Moline "prayer without action is just noise." In a world where mass shootings are so common that a video clip from 2015 is still relevant, it's clear that more than thoughts and prayers are needed. It's important to examine what you’re doing outside of offering thoughts and prayers on social media. In another several years, hopefully this video clip won’t be as relevant, but at this rate it’s hard to see it any differently.