Can we really be prepared for this?

Around 7:00 pm the other night, I got an automated call from my daughter’s school. It was a message informing parents that the following day, the school would be practicing an emergency drill. I ended that call, closed my eyes and took a deep breath.

To the best of my ability, I explained to my almost 5 year old, that tomorrow she would be practicing a drill, kind-of like a fire drill. I told her it would be for a different kind of emergency, one that the police would come for, to make sure everyone was safe at the school. That’s about as much as I could offer her little brain. Quite honestly, it was about as much as I could handle.

This was a drill to help prepare my child, in the event of a school shooting. It’s almost difficult to even type those words. I don’t want that to be a reality, but it is. It’s been proven over and over, that no little town or big city is safe from this epidemic in our country.

The next day I picked up my daughter, and a friend of hers that I give a ride home, from school. The drill wasn’t even on my mind until they brought it up. As soon as I heard the girls talking about the police officers in the school, teaching them how to hide…I almost had to pull the truck over. I was literatly sick to my stomach.

The girls talked and I just listened, unable really to say much because I was so emotional. They talked about how the police officers were so nice. My daughter said, “It wasn’t hard at all Mommy.” I had to fight the urge to not let the tears welling up in my eyes, fall down my cheeks.

I was a senior in high school, when the massacre at Columbine happened. Every time I hear about these random acts of violence anywhere, but especially in schools, now that I have a school-age child, it affects me deeply. I didn’t watch the news or even go on Facebook for weeks after the tragedy (really not even a strong enough word there) happened at Sandy Hook Elementary. I didn’t have my head in the sand, my emotions are just too close to the surface and absorbing that much sadness can be dangerous for me.

I can’t look away anymore though. I don’t have a choice now because my daughter is a student. Every day I put her safety in the hands of the school – a school that matches many of the other schools, where these tragedies have occured. Hearing my daughter and her friend talk about preparing for it, was heartbreaking, a slap of reality and an overall confirmation that times have changed.

I am not a “keep my kids in a bubble to keep them safe” kind of Mom. However, I can’t help but feel like getting that automated message changed me. I know my daughter has no idea what that drill was really all about, nor do I really want her too. She was taught enough. Truth is, no matter how prepared anyone is, no one really ever is.

The nauseous feeling in my stomach, as I write this and consider the very real possibility that this could happen at the school where my children go, is overwhelming. I haven’t really stopped thinking about it since two days ago, when I picked the girls up from school.

I know all parents carry this fear now. It’s not only in the schools, it’s everywhere – movie theaters, post offices, military bases, shopping malls – there is no rhythm to where or why this continues to happen. But it does. I truly believe the wrong issues are being dealt with in processing all of this in our society, but I won’t get in to that here.

This is a post about a Mom sharing, what I now know, is truly one of her worst fears – senseless violence occurring to or around my child.

Has your child had these types of drills at his/her school? Was your community involved? How did your child (and you) handle it?

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16 thoughts on “Can we really be prepared for this?

  1. Bring back childhood, I feel like shouting! Was there ever a golden childhood, I wonder when children could just be children and learn about the adult world from a safe distance. I find it hard to believe as a world seems to go from one madness to other. All you can do is your best and give your child a sense of safety in her own home. No matter how crazy the world is on the outside home is where the heart is 🙂

    • That distance is sooooo much shorter now. The media and the broken systems in our society have made sure of that. Thanks for reading Paula.

  2. Unfortunately yes, my daughter did this drill the first week of school. I read the paper telling us about the drill and just cried. Our children are supposed to feel safe at school and the harsh reality is that they may not be. She doesn’t really understand the reason behind the drill, just that she knows what to do. We are practicing these drills in the hospital and it’s all well and good to say that I would run. But would I? Would I freeze in shock with the barrel of a gun staring at me? I don’t really know, so no I don’t think we are ever really prepared for this scenario no matter how hard we try.

    • I don’t think so either. These drills are more or less to decrease the shock value of emergency personal being in the school. I get that but it just makes me think about it actually happening. It’s so hard. I wonder how it affected the police officers.

  3. I agree we live in a very sick society. I’m glad your daughter wasn’t scared by the drill. It really pisses me off when schools do drills (usually with older kids) that are really scary and realistic. But it’s also important to remember that the media sells us fear. Preparedness is important, but the statistical reality is that it is still very, very unlikely to happen.

    • The realistic, blood-covered drills they do in some of these schools are disgusting. It’s just not necessary. We don’t need to make the halls look like a video game for this shit to be real. It’s fucking real and they know that. Ugh…it’s funny you said that because I always kind of go off when I see those “drills” being covered by the local news. The fear factor is the new “sex sells” marketing tactic if you ask me…not that you did. Sorry…bit of a tangent there.

  4. Good post. Crazy scary is right. That’s one reason why raising kids in this day and age is extra scary. As a teacher I usually just roll through these drills, but now being a mom it puts a new spin on it; just like most things are different after having children.

    • For me, it is a gun issue but more so a lack of getting to the core issues in our society. How we view mental health patients and every day people dealing with mental health issues. People are over medicated and under stimulated. I worked in the mental health field and the system is so broken that a lot of the perpetrators we see are people who have fallen through very wide cracks.

  5. I’m sorry. I know this is very hard. But it is going to help her to remain calm in an emergency. Those life skills might help her as an adult too.

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