Lock-down in a worry-free world

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Apparently, my children are attending spy school. That is the only explanation for why I, the consummate prying parent, am so completely in the dark about what it is they DO all day.
Case in point: I’m told that our elementary school had a mock lock-down drill for a gun in the school recently. I learned of this from a fellow parent two weeks after the fact.
It was the classic “So what did you think of that mock drill?” moment. To which I, the mother who prides herself on having her finger firmly on the pulse of all things that concern her children, could only reply: “Huh?”
Chatterbox. Thus, I ask my darling second-grader, she of the chatterbox ways each day when I pick them up from school: “Honey, did you have a special sort of thing at school? It might have involved, say, cowering?”
She pondered for a moment and then said, brightly, “Oh yeah! We had a code red – and we got to turn off all the lights and lock the door and we had to go to our special place and stay down. If we had to stay a long time we got to eat candy bars but we didn’t so we didn’t get any candy bars.”
This prompted me to say – exasperated – “Honey, you know when mommy is driving you home and says “Did anything happen today” and you say “No” (or tell me all about how Lissa brought a My Pretty Pony for show ‘n’ tell), well, that is the time I should have heard this story!”
Mind you, if a classmate loses a tooth she is all over that report. Yet huddling in the dark for a “Code Red” garners nary a mention?
My son, for the record, failed to mention this occurrence as well. I don’t know whether to be glad it’s not traumatic – or sad that it’s not traumatic.
Apparently, it has no more impact on my children than all the times I spent practicing covering my head with my hands in the hallways of various school buildings in case of tornado.
Generation gaps. As youngsters, my parents’ generation was subject to Bay of Pigs-era bomb drills. It seems almost quaint now, the notion that “duck and cover” would protect them from an atomic bomb’s certain annihilation.
I was born years after the Bay of Pigs invasion, and I have never participated in a bomb drill. If only because by the time I was in school, we were deeply involved in playing chicken with the USSR and had moved on to nuclear bombs.
At that point, even the most optimistic educators were admitting outright that a standard issue school desk probably wasn’t going to provide much cover and that ducking was likely to be a complete waste of our last nanoseconds on earth.
Such was bliss of our formative years.
Now, our children have assault drills and are taught to huddle behind locked classroom doors.
Many schools have security systems, buzzers, and metal detectors.
Visitors now sign in and out with an efficiency, and background check, worthy of the Federal Aviation Administration.
It certainly makes those cute little signs taped to my elementary school’s doors two decades ago: “Please check in at the office. Thank you!” seem both hopelessly naive and endlessly nostalgic.
Forget “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” Today, talented and dedicated teachers who chose the profession only because they wanted to teach, are now forced to calculate how many children can dive for cover behind an overturned snack table.
This is sad. This is wrong. But this, unfortunately, is life.
Protect. As a parent, I want to protect my children from every single thing that could possibly cause them sorrow or worry, even as I know that it is impossible to protect your children from the sorrows and worries that are rightfully theirs.
Reflecting on it, I think that perhaps the best thing I could hope for is that my own children are both well prepared and somewhat resigned.
The truth is that when your child has spent the morning being drilled in what one should do if a mad gunman turns up in the second grade, perhaps the best response a parent could hope for in answer to “What did you do today honey?” is a relentlessly cheerful “Nothing.”
In fervent hopes that “nothing” will be all it ever is.
(Kymberly Foster Seabolt applauds the preparedness of modern schools. She welcomes comments c/o http://kymberlyfosterseabolt.wordpress.com; lifeoutloud@comcast.net; or P.O. Box 38, Salem, Ohio 44460.)

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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.

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