Sometimes when I observe my children I feel a comfortable sense of nostalgia, as if the things they do were things I did and the world has not changed much. Activities like riding their bikes or playing with the hose or stomping in puddles feel timeless and sweet. They play with friends, they read, they draw. My children have their struggles like anybody else, but for the most part their lives are safe and simple and I’m glad. There are many elements of their lives that are different from they way I grew up, but for the most part I see them repeating patterns I’m familiar with from my own childhood.
And then there are moments when I realize that the world my children inhabit works very differently from what I knew.
Tonight, after an exhaustive inspection of all the kids’ clothes
where I made everyone try on everything so we could figure out what
we’ve got and what we need and what we can donate, Mona crawled in bed
with me for her evening midnight snuggle.
It began as it usually does with a review of what kind of project she’s
working on at school (a report on beavers), what was for lunch (chicken
nuggets), and the math she did (something with bead chains, which is a
Montessori concept that I’m fuzzy on, but I own a calculator myself so
I’m not going to worry about it). Then she started telling me casually
about the sorts of things that are on the agenda for tomorrow, which
apparently includes a Code Red Drill.
Aden mentioned a Code Red Drill awhile back and I’d forgotten about
it. It’s so foreign to me I probably blocked it out. Maybe some of you
already know what that is, but for those who don’t, it’s like a Fire
Drill or a Tornado Drill but in preparation for an armed intruder in the
school. The kids are timed at how quickly they can get away from all
the windows and the doors and remain out of sight in silence in the
locked room. Mona told me that they were instructed not to hide under
tables because that was an easy place to be spotted, and that the
coatroom wasn’t a good place to go because if the bad person managed to
get the door open they would be trapped and easy to see.
I find this chilling. On the one hand, in a post-Columbine world I’m
glad schools have thought such a possibility through enough that they
have a plan in place to help protect my kids. On the other…. Well, how
sad is it that my seven year old is worried about how to evade an armed
intruder? I’m sure her teacher is preparing the class in the least
scary way she can while still conducting an effective drill, but there
is something so different about it in my mind compared to a Fire Drill
or Tornado Drill. Fires and tornadoes are scary, but they aren’t evil
or deranged. I don’t like the idea of my children having to contemplate
Ian and I both told Mona that nothing like that has ever happened for
real at her school, or to our knowledge anywhere in Milwaukee. The
same way her school has never had a fire or been hit by a tornado, the
odds of a bad person wandering around the school trying to hurt people
were very small. She didn’t seem overly worried. She’s been through
the Code Red Drill before.
Maybe this is another example of how my children need to start looking at harsh elements of life
more directly. I’m not sure. All I know is that after giving Mona a
hug and an Eskimo kiss and watching her shuffle off to bed in her
leopard print footie pajamas I felt like she deserves a world better
than one that requires a Code Red Drill.