On Tuesday I volunteered in my daughter’s Kindergarten classroom.
After about thirty minutes of being at the school it occurred to me that I should probably get a “volunteer” sticker since proper identification of school guests is probably of high priority to school faculty after the events in Newtown. As a mom of a Kindergartner, the horrific school shootings are on the forefront of my mind, so I can only imagine that the front office staff and faculty have it emblazoned on their brains.
I walked into the front office and asked where I could sign-in and find my sticker. The woman behind the desk, pointed me in the right direction and then gave me a poignant smile that cut to my core. She said simply, “thank you.” We both knew what the other person was thinking.
Two hours later, while in the middle of the class rotations, the all-school P.A. system started to sound. In slow motion I heard a bell tone, followed by the words “Teachers, students, and guests, this is a lockdown . . . drill.” That split second between the words “lockdown” and “drill” felt like an eternity in which my heart skipped 26 beats.
Within 30 seconds, the blinds were closed, doors locked, lights off, kids on the floor. Thirty-three Kindergartners huddled by their desks.
I looked across the table from where I was crouched on my two bad knees and I saw my 6 year old holding my 4 year old who was there “volunteering” with me for the day. It was a visual I will never forget. The two of them intertwined, their innocence wrapped up with one another, not realizing the implications of this seemingly simple “drill.”
Another mom volunteer came to stand by me, holding her 2 year old. She had tears streaming down her face and she whispered, not necessarily to me but to the universe, “What has happened to our world?”
Then I heard footsteps down the hallway, and loud banging. As part of the drill, someone was assigned to walk down the corridors, banging on the doors to simulate what “it” might be like, you know, another Newtown incident.
The kids kept quiet during the banging, with little to no commotion. And there we remained, hushed and huddled in a dark classroom for at least ten minutes.
In the middle of it all, the words of the mom next to me echoed in my ear, “What has happened to this world?” In the silence of the room, I choked back tears, I didn’t want any of the children to see me crying, particularly my own kids, and my mind raced with a million different thoughts. What could this possibly have been like for those kids and teachers at Sandy Hook? How are we as a nation going to stop this insanity? How am I going to explain this “drill” to my kids?
I even thought for a moment about the Frank family that I have seen portrayed so many times in the Diary of Anne Frank, crouching in the dark recesses of their hideaway, hoping not to be found by the Nazi soldiers. Though different in their details, both situations seem preposterous and monstrous to me.
Yesterday, President Obama thankfully came out with 23 executive actions to promote gun control. He is answering the nations call to stop this madness. Of course he is being met with hurdles and by the NRA and other conservatives that think “armed guards at schools” is the answer. That makes my stomach turn. Armed guards at schools? That’s your answer?
I was outraged over this issue before the lockdown drill incident and now I’m even more heated and ready to fight. This morning I read an Op-Ed piece on CNN that talks about the importance of our citizens educating ourselves on the issues and rallying together in favor of President Obama. He is not saying we can’t bear arms, he is not taking away our rights granted by the 2nd Amendment, he is simply saying the average citizen does not need assault rifles and semiautomatic guns that can kill massive amounts of people in minutes. He is being pro-active towards stopping the killing sprees and the violent madness.
Yesterday President Obama spoke, calling his plan “agressive and ambitious” and I say bravo. He went on to say, “This is our first task as a society—keeping our children safe . . . These are our kids.”
From my crouched position in Lily’s classroom to my spot on the couch watching media coverage of the one month anniversary of the Sandy Hook shootings, I can say I am 100% behind the President, his initiatives, and keeping our children safe.
I’m off to research ways I can help this cause. If you know of petitions or addresses I can sign please send them my way.