I have resisted sharing this, only because my kids’ high school was on a lockdown right after this particular lockdown happened and I wasn’t sure what my feelings on it were. This happened just a few weeks ago and life does go on.
Nothing can cause you to gasp like missing several text messages from your child and and her first words are “mom we’re on a lockdown”. These words many years ago, back when I was in high school, were not even in our vocabulary. Don’t get me wrong, we did have the usual (and probably expected) “bomb threat” on test days, where we would have to evacuate the building and spend some time outside in that hot and muggy Florida weather. Chances were, though, if we didn’t know about the “bomb threat” ahead of time, we certainly knew by the end of the day, who had skipped school to call it in. (This was a time before cell phones and caller id.) I would even go so far as to say that we were probably desensitize to the whole “bomb threat” situation and probably would have never taken it seriously, anyways. It seemed to happen once or twice a year. Looking back, thankfully, it never was a real threat. All of that was before Columbine, of course. That wouldn’t happen until years later and 15 people would die (including the two shooters that were seniors at the time) and 20+ others would suffer non-fatal injuries.
Today, school threats have taken on a whole new meaning. Since Columbine, there have been on average 10 school shootings a year. NOT just threats, but actual shootings. According to the Washington Post, over 187,000…read that again, over 187 THOUSAND students, at 193 schools have experienced a school shooting since 1999, the year Columbine changed everything and stole our innocence.
My senior and my freshman were on lockdown together in the cafeteria. Two of my kids in the same room of the high school. On lockdown. Together. And that did nothing to comfort me but only added to the stress of the unknown situation. My first thought was ‘wouldn’t they have a better chance (of survival) IF they were in different parts of the building?’. What an awful thought. My daughter kept texting me that she was scared. I kept texting that she would be okay. Me, afraid that I was lying to her. We had no idea what the situation was other than a rumor on Facebook that someone in a blue hoodie was going to shoot the school up. This is information that I chose not to share with them at first. They would find out later. They didn’t know what was going on. They knew cops were there and dogs and they were looking for someone. And let me tell you…it was terrifying. I, typically, don’t freak out and assume the worst. I texted back and forth with both of them, casually, trying to keep the mood light. I told them to take pictures and video to document the situation. My thoughts were about that photo from the article. I, also, thought that it might keep their mind off of the situation. They had gone into the lunchroom a little after 11 and would not be able to leave until after 1. However, it was unclear to both of them if the lockdown and threat was actually over when they were finally able to leave. My oldest seemed to keep his cool during the situation, but was slow to respond to my texts.
They later came home from school. My daughter was anxious to give me a hug and tell me in person that she was really scared. I hugged and kissed her, hoping that she could feel that she was safe and how much love I had for her. My son had to work, so I didn’t see him until after work that evening. I gave him a huge hug when he walked in with his usual quote of “Home” when he enters the door. I asked if he was okay. He said that he was, but that he had been really scared during the lockdown and thought he wasn’t going to make it. I lost it. He really thought he was going to die. How heartbreaking. He, also, said he should have texted me more.
It is important to note that the school had sent a few emails and phone calls during the lockdown to let us know what was happening without being very specific. After it was all over, they said that they found the threat to not be credible. Thank goodness.
What do you say to your children? As a parent, not having the answers, not being able to kiss the boo-boo and make it go away, makes you feel so helpless. I don’t know what the answers are and I, certainly, don’t know how to solve this. I don’t know how to make this world better or just their school years safer. But we have to do something. DO SOMETHING.
There is hope. We can pray and have faith that our children will grow up and make the right decisions; that we are giving them the foundation to believe that God is always with them.
As United Methodists, The Book of Resolutions tells us to do 8 things to end gun violence, among which are talk and pray; to assist those affected; join together; and advocate for regulation. I, also, pray that God is with us, the adults and the children, to help us come to a resolution to end gun violence.