If you have school age children, then they have been through a fire drill, possibly an evacuation drill, and most likely a lockdown drill.
When I was growing up, we had fire drills and tornado drills. They were routine and the worst part of a tornado drill was being “stuck” under the drinking fountain because you had less room than the people next to you.
I was in high school when the Columbine shooting happened. I knew it was awful, but I honestly don’t know if I really understood the gravity of what was happening. It just was an awful sad event that was happening on the other side of the country.
Then more school shootings happened.
I was a teacher when the Newtown shooting happened. That one was worse because it was elementary school kids. How could anyone do this at an elementary school?
I was a parent and a teacher when the Parkland shooting happened. For some reason, this one didn’t feel routine anymore. It felt different. Teaching became different after that day.
I have been through two evacuation drills, two lockdown drills, and one active shooter drill since the Parkland shooting. The question I get the most often leading up to them or after them is, “How are you doing?” The easy and uncomplicated answer is, I’m fine. But I’m fine because I have to be fine. I have fifteen little people counting on me to be fine.
The complicated answer is it’s not fine. During my first lockdown drill, I helped get seventeen little people into the bathroom– our hiding space. I urged everyone to stay quiet and calm. They all did fine. But I remember thinking if this were real, how many could I cover with my body if I had to? An even scarier thought? Was my son’s teacher across the hall thinking the same thing? Would she cover up my son if she had to?
I had a lot of anxiety leading up to our active shooter drill. Children were not present and we were having someone go through the halls to simulate live gunshots. I went to my spot, closed my eyes and waited. I heard the blanks and they shook our locked classroom doors. It was hard but not as bad as I thought it would be. We all waited until we were released from the drill. I wasn’t really sure what to feel. Again, I was asked how I was doing by friends and family and I still didn’t really have an answer other than, “fine”.
Like most things, the lockdown drills are getting to be more routine. I say this not to scare you. Truthfully your kids are probably all fine with it. It’s just another thing to do at school. It’s no different than a fire drill to most of them. Maybe that’s good. Maybe it’s not good that it’s so routine. I don’t have the answer to that. I get why we practice it. I understand the importance of knowing what to do in that situation. I even get why we did an active shooter drill, as much as I wasn’t looking forward to it. So yes, I’m fine. I have to be fine. It’s part of my job to be fine. And truthfully, most of the time I am fine.
I’ll keep being fine…