Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Yesterday afternoon, I was lying down trying to get over a killer migraine when B poked his head in the bedroom. Our landlady, whose office is behind our cute little rental house, had stopped by to tell him that she’d gotten a text from her son that the elementary school had gone into lockdown.

I flew out of bed and to the computer, hoping to find some sort of information on line. None of the news sites had anything, so I texted my friend L, who was in charge of carpool. She texted back immediately that she was with all our kids, safely in a classroom, and asked me to call the other mom in our carpool group.

When I’ve seen reports of lockdowns on the news, I’ve always looked at the parents standing outside the police line and wondered why they had shown up. What were they thinking to do? Stand in the line of fire? Push the police aside and storm the building?

Last fall, when I was at our preschool during the shooting on the UT campus, I was calm and collected the entire time. But I was there, with my kids, sure that they were safe.

Yesterday was completely different. I had no information, other than a few texts, on what was happening. The ONLY thing that stopped me from getting in the car and driving up to the school was the fact that L was with my kids. She’s like a second mother to them, and I knew she’d make sure they were safe.

So I stayed home and paced the floor, stopping to check the news sites and yelling at the Statesman on twitter for not having any information posted.

Finally L texted that it was all over and they were on the way home. I may have started crying. And I may have gotten weepy again when the girls got home and we talked about what happened. And again when I talked to Ella about Columbine and why reports of guns at school are so scary for adults.

In the end, according to the chatter on the school moms’ Facebook Group, the whole chain of events kicked off when someone saw a dad carrying a furled umbrella that looked like a gun and reported it to the office.

I’d like to take that umbrella and beat that dad within an inch of his life with it. Who the f*ck thinks it’s a good idea to take something that looks like a gun on to a school campus.

We never had lockdowns in quiet, little Sarasota, where I grew up. Our most exciting events were tornado warnings, in which we were told to lie down in the street right next to the curb or make a break for the YMCA across the street and hope for the best.

Ours wasn’t even the only school lockdown yesterday – a high school where a friend teaches was locked down because of shots fired nearby. And last Friday, a middle school in Lake Travis was locked down for four hours because someone said the saw a gun.

What is this world coming to?

I hugged all my kids extra tight last night and spent a long time lying in bed thinking of the what-ifs. All I could picture were the films of the injured student at Columbine climbing/falling out of a window. I didn’t get much sleep.

This morning the girls trooped off to school like nothing had ever happened. I gave them a hug and kiss as they left, even though I wanted to keep the home forever.


donna said...

Oh my goodness...what an awful experience...for you and the kids. It's hard not to want to wrap them in cotton wool and never let them leave the house. My daughter went out last night with a group of her friends and for the first time ever one of the kids was driving...not a parent.It was hard for me not to text her every 5mins to make sure she was OK. It seems like parenting somehow gets harder as they get older!

Susan said...

I can understand the panic at not having news but I have to say the poor man has a perfect riht to carry an umbrella! People need to calm down.

shrink on the couch said...

A friend's son was stuck in the locker room, waiting to play in a basketball tournament, during that Lake Travis lockdown. Some dad brought in donuts and candy and hot dogs to feed the boys. It's just an absurd image, eating candy and donuts while we wait to hear if a gunman is on the loose. Crazy backed up traffic, my husband was caught in the middle of. Yes, these are wild and crazed days. Sorry you had a scare of your own.

jennyp said...

As a public school teacher, I can tell you that the world isn't any different - just much more (too?)careful. Something may or may not have happened at the 7-11 a block or two away - we go on lockdown. My son went to a different middle school than mine in a bad part of town. Nothing ever happened at the school (it's a great school), but things happened around it all the time. They went on lockdown frequently. Truthfully, the vast majority of the time, lockdowns are an annoyance more than anything else. Trust me, no one wants to be stuck with a class full of middle schoolers sitting on the floor after final bell waiting to be released! One of the circles of hell or something (and I like my kids!) It's easy for me to say though, I'm on the inside.