The teachers and I had just sat down to discuss my son’s allergy accommodations for school when the alarm sounded. Without hesitation the teachers sprang into action. They turned off the lights and locked the doors. They instructed me to stay quiet.
The fear on my face wasn’t easy to hide.
One of the teachers apparently noticed my nervousness and started explaining the procedure for these routine drills.
My heart was racing and my anxiety was at its peak. I knew this was a drill, but I was terrified. I immediately thought about my children.
One was just a few classrooms down from where I was, while the other was two hallways from me. I couldn’t help but wonder if they were scared, too, or if this was normal for them.
I could hear people talking in the hallway as we sat quietly waiting for a knock on the door, signifying the all clear, which came after about 20 minutes. The meeting resumed, and everyone continued with their day as usual.
But my day didn’t resume as usual.
I was heartbroken. I couldn’t shake the sadness I felt that these active shooter drills are commonplace in our schools, let alone our elementary schools.
The first school shooting I remember vividly was Columbine in April 1999.
I got home from school that afternoon and turned on the TV while I sat on the couch to fold clothes. The news of Columbine was all over the local stations.
I watched in disbelief as the events unfolded. I watched in horror as students came running out of the school with their hands on their heads, led by police. Tears welled up in my eyes as I listened to the reporters share new information of yet another victim.
My mind couldn’t comprehend how someone my age could think up, plan, and carry out such a horrendous act of violence.
Since then, countless other schools have experienced similar tragedies.
That afternoon I told the kids I was at their school during the lockdown drill and that I was a little bit nervous.
“Were you guys scared?” I asked. They shook their heads no.
Since they are still young, 5 and 8, I didn’t continue with an explanation of why those drills have to happen. First, I think they’re still too young to fully comprehend the situation. Second, I want them to feel safe at school, not scared.
I’d be naive to think I can protect my kids from all the bad in the world. That’s simply not possible. What I can do, however, is pray protection over them and keep the lines of communication open.
I want them to know that their dad and I are their safe place.