Last year, I was helping out in my youngest daughter’s classroom. We had a surprise lockdown drill.
First, this is embarrassing, but…yeah, I’ll share. Because I know that I’m not the only one who has felt like this and it needs to be talked about because it’s actually ok for us to say out loud, “this is scary.” I am scared for my children, for my friends’ children, for my teacher friends. I’m scared for everyone. Even everyone I don’t know. The whole package. And also, I wish I was braver and not so scared.
Let’s all agree that if you know me well, I’m a little…let’s say…hyper-empathic, to a fault….badly coupled with an overactive imagination that is way too big for it’s britches.
But here I am….excited to help out in class…the last year that I can before my youngest moves to middle school. Cry! Weep! Take a selfie with her…post! I adore the teacher and the kids and we are doing cool things with planets and rockets and cereal boxes and cotton and….
Surprise lockdown drill?
That…was not on my volunteer agenda. But here I am. I’ve got this.
The alarm goes off and the teacher locks the door, turns off the lights and starts to huddle the kids under the desks. I look at her quizzically and she smiles and tells everyone it’s a drill. Or did they announce it?? I don’t recall. I do remember feeling my blood boiling and my face getting hot and I put my hands on my cheeks and my stomach starts to hurt. I follow her lead and pretend like I’m even an 1/8 of the superhuman she; as all teachers are in situations like this. I am trying to calm the kids, who’s levels of fright are somewhere probably ranging anywhere from a 1-3 out of ten….I was lingering at somewhere around 149 out of five. While I’m smiling, winking and making funny cool-mom faces, inside I’m dying. Kind of literally. All replayed out in different scenarios in my over-active absurd mind. I’m legitimately scared and there is no valid reason for it. It’s a practice drill. But I’m not 100% sure. They don’t tell you that before it starts because….it’s a DRILL
Some of my thoughts…that I can vividly remember…that were pounding in my head, flying and whipping around like lights at a Floyd laser show:
(1)WHERE IS MY DAUGHTER. She’s literally right next to you. Where are my other kids? Safe at school. Safe? Safe. These kids are safe. I’m mom to all of them right now. Count the kids. one, two, three…I don’t even know how many kids there are but still count..four, five, six….smile.
(2) What is that look in the teacher’s face? She looks scared. This isn’t real. Could this be real? This isn’t real. I’m listening so hard with my ears for every.little.thing.
(3) Can the kids see me crying a little bit? Stop. Stop. Breathe. Smile.
(4) Wall of windows. How do those windows open? How fast can I get there and open one to get the kids out before something happens and I can’t make it? Omg STOP.
(5) Can the kids even fit out the window? How far do they open? Stop.
(6) Where is my cellphone? Where is my purse? It’s across the room. I don’t need it. Why the FUCK is my cell phone not in my pocket? Smile.
(7) Re-lax. This is a drill.
(8) Almost done.
(9) Is the teacher scared? Wait? Is that a scared look? No, she’s fine. No wait, she’s acting like she’s fine, but she’s losing her shit. No, she’s annoyed that her parent helper keeps staring at her and is losing her shit. I’m so sorry.
(10) This could NOT be a drill.
(11) Keep smiling. Keep making silly faces. Keep winking. Hide fright.
(12) Why doesn’t Mike ever volunteer?
(13) I want Mike.
(Smile at Lulu, wink, squeeze her hand…make funny face)
(Turn away so she doesn’t see me crying again)
I hear footsteps. Then the door jiggles. They are checking the locked doors. The principal and the police officers. I know this.
It’s just a cop.
It’s just a cop.
It’s just a cop.
Omg. Is this real? Staring at windows. Starting at teacher. Staring at windows.
The next 5 minutes felt like 5 hours.
*Announcement: Drill over.
As I non-challantly blow a kiss to my daughter, make a lackadaisical eye-roll laugh and wave at the teacher, after I sign out at the front desk, tossing out some witty repartee about how “I always pick the best days to volunteer” and as I saunter out of the building… I am choking…CHOKING back the tears and the sobs that I finally let out all the way home. I should have just taken her home with me. I want to take the entire school home with me.
There wasn’t enough bottles of Chardonnay for me when I got home that day. Why yes, I did day drink that day. Sue me.
That experience wasn’t the real thing. The vile thing. Nothing I felt or thought that day could ever even TOUCH what all these children and teachers have had to experience and are continuing to experience. The HORROR. The REALITY.
NO ONE. No child, no teacher, no parent, no law enforcement, no rescue teams should EVER have to go through any of it. Those children were helpless in a war they didn’t ask to fight in, in an unmarked war zone they called school and without any way to defend themselves. This is the worst kind of war ever.