Every morning, we rush our little guy out the door with pleading voices to brush your teeth, grab your back pack, get dressed, don’t miss the bus. We breathe a sigh of relief after he boards the bus for another day of learning in the first grade, confident we’ve provided him with a healthy breakfast, a hug and kiss, a treat tucked away in the lunch box.
Then, one day, I get in the car to breaking news. Another school shooting. This one just 10 short miles down the road. Confusion about who fired shots. A suspect in custody. An AK-47.
During kindergarten last year, my son would excitedly tell me about what drill they had that day – fire drills being the favorite, as they were during my school tenure, since he got to go outside during the drill. Fire and tornado drills I could relate to. I’d crouched in many a cinder block hallway with a my hands over my head myself and was pleased that his teacher was imparting these drills in a way that made them not scary, but still very important.
Then one day he told me about soft lockdown drill. After investigating, I realized my little guy practices five drills multiple times each year: Fire, tornado, soft lockdown, hard lockdown and evacuation.
My heart broke.
Yes, I’m pleased that the school has a plan and that they are practicing it with my child. They would be negligent not to, in this day and age, and I want to know that my child will be safe when I send him into their care.
But so much of me is saddened to know he has to do this, that this nonchalant recognition of the different between a hard and soft lockdown will simply be a part of my child’s school experience. That one day, he may be faced with having to speak up about something scary he sees in his school. That potentially he would huddle in the corner on the brightly colored mat by the bookcase with the lights off and the doors locked and the teacher whispering she loves him while pops explode in the hallway.
Right now, soft and hard lockdowns are just practice for him and understanding why they happen are outside his current reality. I hope they stay that way.
But someone else making their way into a school with a weapon of mass or self-destruction scares the shit out of me.
When did our schools become the battleground?