DISCLAIMER: This posting has absolutely nothing to do with anyone’s rights, Second Amendment or otherwise. It is not a commentary on anyone’s ability to own weapons or anyone’s hatred of them. It is just something that happened in my week, that’s it, nothing more. I’ll wait for the hate mail.
A bit of seriousness in my generally light postings. Something happened this week that broke something in me. I was dropping off my two youngest children at school. They are in grade school and being a charter school, we don’t have the luxury of a bus. Almost every morning for the last seven years I have made the same drive.
That morning was different. To most it would be innocuous, but for me, seeing an armed guard at an elementary school was disconcerting then and has gnawed at me ever since.
Last year I realized my oldest daughter was at a school with an armed guard but to me that was different. It was a middle school and the guard could be there for a variety of reasons. Fighty kids or graffiti kids or even stabby kids, plenty of reasons that don’t involve gun toting kids who feel the need to harm a bunch of their classmates.
I couldn’t make the same argument about the grade school armed guard. To me he was there for one reason, one horrible, terrible reason.
A couple of years ago the grade school had a lockdown on the last day of school. It had little to do with our school and more to do with the middle school across the street. It was a bit scary, but I knew, while I was trapped in the classroom, that no one was coming through the door to hurt my children. I remember hating that the kids knew exactly what to do. Those first graders, for the most part, knew where to be and what to do in a very mechanical way. I comforted myself in the knowledge that my parents had mastered “in case of nuclear blast hide under your desk” drills. Both being useless drills that you would never need but seem to comfort a certain percentage of the populous.
I couldn’t apply that flawed logic to the armed guard at the school. It was not a drill and those weren’t blanks in the cop’s gun.
I am quite sure that a good percentage of parents saw the guard and felt comforted. I did not. What I felt was a heaviness that I haven’t shaken since. The heaviness I felt was that of change, and not for the better. My kids, all of them, will now grow up in a world where they need protection by armed guards means that I can’t raise them quite the way I want to.
Full transparency. I am not a gun fan. My wife doesn’t mind them. I don’t like them. I imagine that there is a direct relationship between feeling uncomfortable around guns and the number of times you’ve had one pointed at you. I’ve had three people point guns at me, two of which were in anger and the last guy wanted to show me how safe guns are (fun side note, he didn’t realize it was loaded). Long story short, I feel like I have earned the right to be uncomfortable around them. I don’t tell people they shouldn’t have one.
For me I don’t want my kids thinking that they need something to make school safe. It should be safe inherently. Their biggest fears should be pop quizzes and what is on the cafeteria menu. Active shooter drills and armed guards change that. It deprives them of an innocence that I want them to have.
The lesson here little ladies? Here you go. Your school is safe, really safe. The drills and guards aren’t necessary. These things, the shootings, while horrifying, are a statistical rarity.
I want you to believe that. I want you to know that to be true even if I can’t entirely believe that.
I want you to learn all of the drills and know where the guard is stationed but I want you to know that you don’t need them until, God forbid, you do. I remember a time in this country that we were told that Saran Wrap and Duct Tape would save us. I filed it away in the back of my head, sure. If anthrax knocked on my door I know I would have been screwed by my thinking that the warnings were comfort food for the simple minded.
So, pay attention, but only to the routines, not the reasons. Please know that the world is okay. Grandma hid under a desk to save herself from an attack that would never come, you do the same. Learn your drills for the attack that isn’t coming. And here’s the tricky part, you need to know it isn’t coming. You’ll be better for it.