Thursday, March 26th, 2015...9:33 pm
Even In The Scary Darkness
“Dad, why do people sometimes go into schools with guns and shoot kids?” she asked on the way home from school today.
“Well, that’s something I really don’t have a good answer for,” he tells me he said.
They had a lockdown drill this week at her school. They gathered together in the dark and were supposed to sit quietly. But they are seven and stillness doesn’t come easy to most of them. Why, they asked. Why did they have to do this silly drill thing in the darkness? Why did they have to practice being quiet and still?
And so a teacher must have explained. She must have uttered the words Sandy Hook. Gun. Shoot.
And they must have quieted down to practice.
I’ve sat under tables and in the dark, hushing groups of teenagers as I hear the police come and check doors and windows in drills at my own school. The teenagers know why we do it and they agreeably huddle closer together than they’d like with their cell phones dark while we practice for what used to seem unimaginable.
I know why the teacher wants to make sure the kids know to be so absolutely still and quiet.
I just don’t like thinking about my own child huddled, scared, away from windows. I don’t like that this is something schools have to prepare for. I don’t like that she now is a bit closer to knowing that nowhere is completely safe.
My parents had under-the-desk atom bomb drills. And my children will have darkest corner away from windows active shooter drills. My generation was lucky that we just worried about fire drills.
It’s not so simple anymore.
I guess we are never ready for another layer of innocence to shatter. There’s never enough warning and there’s never a good time. We are never ready for the questions for which we have no good answers. The questions we wish there was never an occasion to ask.
“What’s that school with an S where it happened 2 years ago?” she asked at dinner tonight.
“Sandy Hook,” I said, a lump in my throat.
My husband says he talked to her on their ride home about statistics. About the way that it feels more dangerous to fly in a plane but it is statistically safer than driving a car. He tried to confront her questions with statistical justification that she could worry a little less. He talked to her about the way humans have always found ways to be horrible to each other and the fact that hundreds and hundreds of years haven’t solved that problem. That unexplainable problem. This isn’t new, he said.
But, worrying about my own child, it feels new to me.
She wrote a month or so ago about her dream. They were studying Martin Luther King Jr. and the class had to think of what they wanted for our world. She wrote about looking for the good in people.
Sometimes that isn’t easy to do. But I hope even in the scary darkness, we can all remember to do at least that much.