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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tips on Tuesday: Lock-downs and the Loss of Innocence

Last week I had my first ever experience with a lock down. And I'm not sure quite how I feel about it.

Every week, I go read with Rebekah's class at school. I like to volunteer, it helps me meet the kids in her room, and lets me have fun with kids--whom I love. I don't really 'do' anything. I listen to them read a story to me--out loud. We go over words they are struggling with and I give them a sticker on their chart. Knowing that I come in every week motivates them practice reading the story during the we 'trick' reluctant readers into practicing reading at home. (Yeah, parents and teachers are sneaky like that...)

Last week, we had just finished up and I had about 15 minutes before they went to recess and lunch. I stayed to help with some mundane things that are hard for our teacher to get done in a day (sorting things, putting things away, etc.) We are working and out of the blue, the intercom beeps and we hear, "Lockdown...teachers, we are in a lockdown." I admit to a bit of panic at those words, but the kids have been trained. They dropped everything where they were and all hustled to the corner behind her desk. They got down, got small and got quiet. The motioned me to join them while the teacher dropped the covering on the window next to the door, locked the door and turned out the lights. Impressive, they were down, hidden and quiet in under 30 seconds. 

Then we wait. Not that long, just about 6-7 minutes. It was some of the longest minutes of my life. The teacher & I look at each other silently communicating, "I hope it's a drill--but I don't know." And when the door rattled when someone checked to see if it was locked, another moment of intense prayer from me. And when it was over, I thought about the teachers in Sandy Hook and how long they had to hide. When a local incident happened a few years ago, kids were in lockdown for up to 3 hours. THREE HOURS--huddled and having to be quiet. 

If 7 minutes felt like an eternity, what was it like for three hours--or 180 minutes? And afterwards, the instruction and correction for the things done right and the things done wrong. Thankfully, it was only a drill. But it cost me some of my innocence. And I feel like my kids (and everyone's kids) are being cheated of some of the innocence of childhood. Their teacher did an amazing job of explaining things in terms that are truthful, but not going to scare the kids. She talked about if a 'bad person' was in the school, we have to stay quiet so the bad person thinks there is nobody in the room and leaves. 

Rebekah doesn't know about Sandy Hook--we had a media gag for a few days and kept the younger two from it as much as possible. Nathan heard snippets so we had a private conversation that some teachers and students had died...and reassured him that's why his school has certain security measures in place to make sure he's safe. 

The worst drill we had when I was a kid was an earthquake drill...when there hasn't been a quake in our region in centuries. This was a little more 'real.' We used to laugh after those drills. We weren't laughing after this drill. 

I refuse to live in fear for myself or my children. I won't let these instances taint my life. Yet, while I'm glad the school practices and the kids do this on auto-pilot...I still feel like we've all been a little bit robbed of some innocence. 

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