Monday, June 4, 2018

“The school is in lockdown…this is not a drill”

I don't usually post these things so close to each other but something significant happened on the last day of school.  Avery got out early as she graduated to middle school but Macy and Darby still had a few more hours after her.  I went to pick them up after dropping Avery off at a graduation party. 


A funny thing happened on the last day of school at Traut Core Knowledge.  Not “Ha-Ha” funny, more like strange, pant soiling funny. 
I’ll explain.

It was the end of the day on the last day of the school year.  I was waiting outside my daughter’s first grade classroom when I heard an announcement over the loud speaker of the school next door.  The announcement was…

“The school is in lockdown…this is not a drill”

The school in question is a few hundred yards from my kid’s school.  The announcement was very clear, and it was followed shortly by a large police presence.  All of this took place in the course of 30 seconds or so.  

I try to be as honest as possible when I am writing these things, so I will say this, I was at a mental crossroads between alerting the schools administrators or grabbing my kids and getting the hell out of there.  

I’m somewhat proud to say that I went with the greater good.  I went inside to tell the principal.  She hadn’t heard anything yet and called the superintendent.  In that incredibly short period of time, our school parking lot had been inundated with police vehicles and everyone was moved inside.  

My kids’ school was in lockdown.

I went into my youngest’s classroom and the door was locked behind me.  The curtains were closed and the window that looked into the hallway was covered.  The first thing I noticed is that a bunch of the first graders knew exactly what this meant and that many of them didn’t.  

My daughter was among the oblivious one’s and she was distracted by a puppy that was trapped in the room as a part of the lockdown. The ones that weren’t sidetracked by the puppy or the movie that the teacher started tried to peek through the windows.  The first-grade teacher put me in charge of blocking the windows and the door from little eyes.  

My daughter was oblivious and come to find out, I was expendable.  We make a hell of a pair.  

I sat there, for twenty minutes or so, not knowing what was going on at the other school, not particularly afraid of what was going on here, wishing I could check on my other kid who was right down the hall, and feeling the weight of my kids going through a school lockdown.  

I’m not going to pretend I was scared for me or my kids, but I hated that they were going through it.  I hate that it is part of the vernacular and the routine.  I was happy that Traut responded as quickly and as professionally as they did but I hate that we have come to this.  

I suppose every generation has this sort of fear.  For mine it was the Soviet Union being able to reach the U.S. with a nuclear warhead in twelve minutes.  I remember us discussing what we would do with that twelve minutes.  I believe, being ten years old, it revolved around playing video games till the bitter end.  To be honest, it wasn’t real back then.  It was more ethereal, like winning the lottery but much crappier.  The school being in lockdown felt more real than hiding under a desk to protect you from a bomb that was never coming.  

The lesson here girls?  Not such an easy one.  While the lockdown was precautionary, it was real.  Most of the time in these posts, I try to sum everything up with an answer, but here, I don’t have one.  I feel like a lot of parents are like me, we are walking into a new wilderness with no idea what to expect.  The far fringe is telling us that the answer is taking everyone’s second amendment away or turning our teachers into scholarly Rambos.  Both angles are equally stupid, sorry for the soapbox moment but here goes.  The fact is, there are sick people out there, there are bullied kids looking to settle scores, there are outsiders looking to make a mark and, like it or not, there are too many guns available to them.  

I think its part of a new American phenomenon, the fringe is so entrenched in their own perspective they are unable to think logically, sympathetically or even consider what the other side is going through. 

I think it’s about fear.  One side has fears and therefore needs to arm themselves against whatever it is that scares them, the other side has fears that say they will be a lot safer if no one is armed.  The very idea of the other side winning means further entrenching one’s own fears.  I see this in my own home.  I am extraordinarily uncomfortable around guns.  I have had them pointed at me three times in my life, twice in anger by strangers and once by a friend who mistakenly claimed it wasn’t loaded.  He was trying and failing to prove a point about gun safety. It turns out, I don't care if it's friend or foe that points a gun at me, I don't like it. My wife comes from a family and a culture that embraces guns, has fed themselves with guns and sees them as a necessity.  I don’t have the need to see her position as wrong to further solidify mine and she understands that in the event of a burglary, if she wants someone filled with fast moving projectiles instead of being chased out with a nine-iron, she will be the one pulling the trigger.  

So, long story less long, girls, I don’t have an answer, but it’s because it’s the wrong question.  The question isn’t ‘why do we have lockdowns?’ its more about how come none of us can see anyone else’s point of view anymore.  I guess I’ll start.  

Hello, gun positive person.  I understand that you are afraid that people like me might be out to take your guns.  We aren’t, for the most part, but the loudest of us sure make you feel like we are.  Some of us may even want to modify what you can own.  I think we should give them a voice and discuss it.   Maybe they have some good points, maybe they don’t.  In return, please understand that while guns make you feel safer, they can scare the scat out of some of us.  I get it, guns don’t kill people, people do.  I feel like we try to be too polite.  We aren’t afraid of just the guns, we are afraid of the gun owners AND their guns.  So, when it gets proposed to put guns in schools, it scares us more.  You see, our kids are in there.  A teacher with a gun makes you feel better and makes us feel worse.  You hear “gun free zone” and you get nervous and we breathe a sigh of relief.  

That’s’ the problem with siding with the extremes, there isn’t any middle ground.  My oldest daughter starts a school next year that has an armed police officer in it.  Perfect.  Not an armed teacher or lunch lady or janitor or guard.  A bona fide active police officer.  Seems logical. To the right, it’s arming the school and to the left it’s someone who has gone through a quantifiable amount of training before carrying a gun around children.  Seems like a reasonable solution, like one both sides could rally around.  I can’t wait to hear from both sides how dumb I am. 

1 comment:

  1. This is one of the smartest things I have ever read.