Posted by Kirsten Patel, Elementary Mommie-on-the-Run | Posted in The Elementary Mommy-on-the-Run | Posted on 17-03-2011
I consider myself to be an optimistic, glass half full type of person. I like to believe in the inherent goodness of people. I often leave my car doors unlocked when the car is just sitting in my driveway. I walk away from my grocery cart to grab something at the other end of the aisle while my purse sits ripe for the picking. Admittedly, I sometimes don’t take the necessary precautions like having an earthquake kit handy or a family fire escape plan because I tend to fall into the “it’ll never happen to me” camp.
My husband balances me out with what I consider his over-cautiousness. He gets it from his parents who I think have a slight, inherent mistrust of most people. He is the one who locks the car doors in between trips to and from the house while loading the car for a family road trip. I am not even kidding. He calls me to let me know his plane has landed safely when he travels and to make sure I se the house alarm before I go to bed. He makes sure our kids are in the proper car seats, then checks and double checks in the installation of the car seats. We are well stocked for a power outage with radios, batteries, flashlights and bottled water thanks to him.
The other day I arrived at school for my weekly stint checking out books to kindergartners and another mom stopped me in the parking lot. “I wouldn’t go in there if I were you.” she said. I gave her a puzzled look and she told me they were about to have a lockdown drill. If I didn’t want to get stuck in a dark room with 20 five year olds for the next half hour, I should rethink going inside. I figured it couldn’t be that bad so I braved it and went inside.
As soon as I walked into the office, I ran into the principal. She said she had just announced the drill and asked if I would like to go along with her on her rounds of checking all the classrooms. I said sure. It was eerily quiet in our normally bustling elementary school. Our school was built in 1971 and instead of traditional classrooms with doors, the classrooms all flow together in “pods” separated by bookshelves and screens. Within the pods each teacher has a Small Group Interaction (SGI) room where they can take their class to escape the often noisy pod areas.
As we passed through the library on the way to the lower grade pods, there was a group of fourth graders who had barracaded themselves in one of the teachers restrooms. Each teacher was required to go into their SGI and, cover all windows, barracade doors if possible and huddle with their students in a corner. As I followed the principal from room to room she gave instructions to teachers about what they were doing well and complimented the children on staying quiet and following the lockdown rules.
The experience was chilling. The whole time we were walking room to room and looking at the faces of all those little kids huddled into the small rooms I felt myself start to choke up. I kept picturing some terrible person walking around the school looking for victims. *shudder*
But what really got me was the looks on the teacher’s faces. I could tell they were taking this very seriously and you can bet they would do everything in their power to protect those kids, drill or real thing. My kids. I had to fight back the tears.
Perhaps my tendency to want to stick my fingers in my ears and sing la la la la la is easier for me than picturing the “what if.” The reality is that while it’s nice and lovely to live in “it will never happen to me”-land, it’s much smarter to live in “maybe it could happen to me so I better be prepared”-land. Because in an instant nice, peaceful lives can be shattered by shaking earth and monster waves. I think we are all well aware of that right now.