By: Heather Desmond O’Neill
“Wow! A fire drill?”
“Nope …. A LOCKDOWN drill!”
And my heart sank. Thankfully, I was on the phone with my son so he did not see the tears that immediately formed in the corners of my eyes.
My mind immediately thought of the Sandy Hook kids. They were first and second graders. Just babies. My son is in first grade. He has no idea about the importance or relevance of what a lockdown is.
I have a sense of helplessness.
This was just a drill. He was excited about learning something new. I was terrified that he may actually have to use it.
I work in a school. I get it. We practice lockdown drills so that everyone is on the same page as to what to do in an emergency. The kids get used to practicing these drills so if there is ever an emergency they are prepared. The fact that this even needs to exist disgusts me. But the realist in me knows that we need lockdown drills.
“What did you do in the drill?” I ask.
“We went over to a super secret place and all sat on the floor,” he replied.
“What did they tell you was the most important thing to do?”
“Be quiet,” he states matter-of-factly.
I’m afraid if I say anything else he will know I’m crying. So I stay silent.
“Bye Mama. See you when you get home!”
And I am off the hook. “Bye baby. See you soon,” I choke out.
I can’t stop the tears. I think of the angels who protected as many children as they could that fateful day in December 2012. I pray there are people of the same caliber working at my son’s school. I picture the faces of innocent elementary school children and my heart hurts.
I think of the families, the parents, the siblings, the grandparents, the surviving classmates and faculty. I wonder if they practice lockdown drills.
I hate this feeling of doom I have while discussing the drill with my son. I want school to be a safe, secure and enjoyable place for him. But I know that this is out of my control.
All I can do is support his teachers and discuss with him how to behave during these drills. I want him to take them seriously, but not be scared. I want for him to never have to experience terror in school. I pray this will be the case.