The other day, about an hour before school got out, a friend of mine who happens to work at the elementary school down the street sent me a text saying they were on lockdown, and asking if I’d heard anything on the news. I hadn’t, didn’t even have the television on, but in that moment, I heard the helicopter flying overhead, along with some sirens. Joy. I quickly searched the local news channel’s web-page. Nothing there. Texted another friend who has access to a scanner. Discovered ALL the schools within a two-mile radius, were on lockdown. Two of my three kids were locked inside their classrooms, hiding under their desks. This is normal to them.
I distinctly recall the first time I was on campus – helping in Big Man’s Kindergarten classroom – and there was a lockdown drill. It shook me to my core. Little four and five year olds already old hat at diving under the tables, hands behind their necks to protect the vulnerable area, doors locked, shades drawn, complete silence in the room. I’ve been through five or six of these things now, but they are always emotionally upsetting to me. It’s a sad state when our kids find this kind of drill, and the reason behind it, “normal.”
When I was a kid, we had earthquake, and duck-and-cover drills. This was in the days of the heightened Cold War. I also grew up in California, so earthquake drills were definitely mandatory. We never thought anything of it. It was just part of school life. Our teachers didn’t say much about the duck-and-cover drills. I don’t know I completely understood why we did them.
My kids know why they have lockdown drills. That makes my momma’s heart ache – that they know there is a potential someone will come onto their campus on a shooting rampage….that they don’t have the highest confidence school is a safe place…..that they know the best place and the best way to hide should the unthinkable occur. It’s normal to them. It’s not normal to me.
The lockdown lifted after an hour at the elementary schools, fourteen minutes at the high school (which had been the last to go on lockdown, being the furthest from the apparent problem). They didn’t tell the kids why they were on lockdown. Students found out from their parents either by texting while on lockdown, or when they got home from school. I’m not sure how I feel about that. They should know what’s going on, although I’m not sure how that information would be disseminated. Also, the parents weren’t told until we received robo calls from the district office later that evening. If my kid is on lockdown, I want to know when it happens, and I want to know why it’s happening, not have to track down the information through other sources, or wait five hours for a robo call.
My kids were un-phased by the entire process. Turns out, no one was on any one campus, there was potential danger in the area, and the students were put on lockdown to keep campuses clear. This is normal to them, but I don’t think it will ever be normal to me.