I wasn't going to write about this today. This was scheduled and planned out for later. I was going to let you know about our background with homeschooling and the public school system. I was going to summarize the things I learned my first year. I was really going to set the stage before I dove into some of those topics surrounding public education that are just plain hard.
School shootings are one of those things. But as I was waiting to pick up my girls from school I saw the news flash across Facebook. "Police say at least 10 people have been killed in a school shooting."
Lord have mercy.
This is my daughter's second year in public school. She attends an amazing Chicago public school in our neighborhood and loves it. One of our biggest challenges when adapting to public school after previously homeschooling was figuring out how to handle my daughter's anxiety. Each time there was a fire drill, my girl came home nervous and fidgety. For days we would see how it had affected her. Her teacher was amazing and worked with us to help minimize the stress these put on her. By the end of the year she could perform a drill without it bothering her in the days to come. Progress.
We weren't far into this school year when we got the memo about a lockdown drill. The Chicago Police Department would be on hand to walk the school through what would happen if they needed to implement a lockdown. (Just typing this is making me cry.) I spoke with my oldest about it. She said her teacher had talked to her about it and they had practiced. She wasn't worried for the drill. I spent Monday praying, hoping she would feel peace.
This Tuesday, on the way to school, I asked her how the drill went. Now that she had a night to process, how did it make it feel. She non-challantly told me it was no big deal. How everything was really smooth and although the school felt really quiet, she knew she was safe. She told me she knew that if she had been in the bathroom during a lockdown drill she should go into a locker until she could get to her room. And I started thinking about how sending her to school was a choice -a choice which has inherent risk.
And as I think about this I hear her voice from the backseat. She asks, "Mom, has anyone actually needed to do their lockdown drill. Like in real life?"
Pause. "Yes, baby."
"Mom, has anyone ever been hurt at a school?"
Pause. Deep breath. "Yes, baby."
"Mom, has anyone ever died at a school?'
Stifled tears. "Yes, baby."
"Why can't they stop it?"
Tears falling so fast I can hardly see the road.
"Mom, are you crying?"