My husband and I are different. I suppose that isn’t shocking, many couples are made up of opposites. In our case, I’m the ‘feeler’ – I empathize with everyone. Admittedly, it makes it hard to watch the news…, in fact it made it incredibly challenging to cover the news – it is one of the reasons I left the business. I’m constantly finding myself mentally ‘in someone else’s shoes’, crying, heart-hurting, yearning to take even a little bit of that suffering away. My husband on the other hand, can’t handle it, so he’d rather not even hear it if possible. I’ve learned over the years that I can’t go running to him to share other people’s pain, no matter how much I choose to take on. It isn’t that he chooses to bury his head in the sand, rather that HIS heart can’t handle it. And I respect that.
Though there are times he can’t avoid it…..times when the bad news keeps coming – via computer, phone, and TV.
December 14, 2012 was one of those dates. It was the day of the Sandy Hook school shooting. I’d already heard, but he stood in my office door, shoulders slumped, eyes watering and he just said, ‘all those little kids….’ It broke our hearts our hearts for the families. All of those families had a piece of them ripped away that day….
It broke our hearts to know our kids were going to hear about it and be afraid. They did and they were. There were so many questions our kids asked. Many we simply couldn’t answer: WHY it happened? WHY those kids? And inevitably…. as kids do, they wondered if they were safe here at home, at their school. We assured them: yes.
It broke our hearts to know many schools across the country would put new safety measures in to place to protect our children – measures that are needed, but scary nonetheless. And Sandy Hook is just one in a too-long list of tragedies that have prompted this.
Shortly after the school year started my small people came home talking about having done an ‘Intruder Drill’. I grew up in Los Angeles… the standard were Fire Drills and Earthquake Drills. Here in the Midwest, Tornado Drills are normal….but ‘Intruder Drills’? The kids had to walk through the ‘what ifs’ of an unknown person entering the school and the alarms that would sound. A child in my son’s class asked, ‘what happens if the alarm goes off while we are in the bathroom?’. The answer as relayed to me by my son: “stand on the toilet, lock yourself in the stall and don’t make a sound, someone WILL come for you, but do not try to go back to your classroom as the door will be locked”. While this answer makes perfect sense – each teacher needs to protect their classroom full of students, my heart hurts for that ONE student knowing how terrified they would be alone.
And it was this exact sentiment that gave my small dude nightmares the night following the Intruder Drill….despite all of our talks about the teachers. the principal and others who are at the school to protect him as well as my firm belief that this is merely a DRILL designed to keep him and other students safe, and not something I think will ever happen….it is frightening, and I understand that.
It is imperative my children feel safe at school. I fully trust the teachers, administration and coaches who regularly surround my children. I know they will keep them safe. And I know it is my job at home to reinforce faith in them, the overall safety of school and my belief that drills like ‘Intruder Drills’ while they may raise questions for my kids, are designed to protect our little ones.
I’m additionally grateful resourses like the National Education Association exist to offer me ways to talk to my kids about this topic as well as bullying prevention, strategies for academic success and most definitely as we head in to the Winter months - tips for combating Enterovirus D68.
Does your child’s school do an Intruder Drill of any kind? If so…. how did they respond?Disclosure: This post reflects a collaboration with the National Education Association’s Raise Your Hand for Student Success campaign. All thoughts and opinions are, of course, my own.