I got a call from the school today. Scratch that - I got the call from the school today. The call every parent dreads. I answered the phone for a robot to inform me my boys' school was on lock down. I had to get all the way through the message before they gave us the all-important reassurance that everything was okay. (They might want to re-think where they place that little tidbit in the message!)
As it turns out, an alarm was accidentally triggered at the elementary school. Since no one knew why the alarm was going off, resource officers implemented the lock down. I'm glad they acted quickly - even happier it was a false alarm. But in that moment, that moment that seemed to stretch on forever, my heart stopped.
When my boys came home, I asked them about it. I'm not sure what I find more unsettling, the fact that my 9-year-old was completely nonplussed by the whole thing or the fact that my 10-year-old went into survival mode when it happened. Blake told me all about turning off the lights and organizing kids to rearrange desks; then he went on to talk about the various "weapons" kids grabbed to protect themselves.
When I thought about a class full of 5th graders huddled behind a wall of desks with their scissors and heaviest books, prepared to defend themselves, it really struck me how very much our world has changed. I'm glad my son knew what to do because the scary truth is that, even right here in the middle of the heartland, he might need that knowledge. But it saddens me that we've come to this.
When I was a student, my biggest concern was that Brooke and her friends were most likely going to pick on me for any myriad of stupid reasons. Now our children not only have to deal with the meanies, they have to cope with legitimate threats to their safety while they're in school.
I have two sisters, both of whom are teachers in good school districts. Both have also had to guide their students through at least one lock down, and theirs weren't false alarms. I can't imagine how that would feel, to have a room full of crying and scared children looking to you for reassurance, to have a room full of children looking to you for protection against a gunman. Teaching has always been an occupation deserving of our respect, but that's taken on a whole different level in this new world we live in.
I don't know what the answer is. All I know is tonight, my kids get extra hugs and I'll be saying an extra prayer of thanks.
Rolling hills that had been vibrant green just weeks ago were now muted in tone, as if they were taking a deep breath before bursting into the song of fall.