I hate that we live in a time and place where Lockdown Drills are a part of my children's realities. But I understand the need, and am glad that my daughter goes to a school that has policies in place to help keep her safe. But that doesn't mean I'm happy about it. That doesn't mean I'm not left with a sick feeling in my stomach when she comes home with a report of a Lockdown Drill at school that day.
(But I digress...)
Last week my first grader's school had one of these drills. Her class was not in their regular room with their classroom teacher, which is kind of unfortunate in itself, but still good to get practice in any situation. There were a few boys who were not staying quiet (a requirement in Lockdown Drills as much as lining up quickly and quietly is for a Fire Drill) and finally, in what I'm assuming was frustration and exasperation on the part of the teacher, the teacher said, "We would be dead by now."
Of course, when I heard about this, I immediately felt outraged and yet I completely understood what (could have) brought her to say this. Perhaps these boys weren't grasping the importance and seriousness of the situation, so they needed a reality check. Unfortunately, for a sensitive someone like my daughter, it is pretty much the worst possible thing to be told.
When Hope came home and shared with me about this particular part of her day (thank goodness she shared with me about her day!), and how she cried and felt afraid, I just wanted to hold her and tell her nothing bad would ever happen to her. Ever. Ever, ever, ever. She will be safe and protected and the world is a wonderful happy place forever, amen.
But of course I can not lie to my six-year-old, not when she already knows that there are bad people in the world, which is why they practice these drills, in case one of these bad people decides to visit their school. So, we talked about it as much as she could handle, but Hope is a child who gets more anxious the more stressful things are discussed, so after awhile she just wanted to stop. And we did.
But I keep thinking about my baby. I can feel her pain and fear so acutely in my heart, and it hurts. It hurts. I can feel her shock as she heard the words spoken about dying. I can picture her face and her posture as she sat at the table unsuccessfully holding back her tears. And with every beat of my heart, I can sense her discomfort and fear for the rest of the day.
I don't know if this is part of being a mama, or if it's just my own personal sensitive heart, but, damn, it hurts to think about and know that my child was hurting. It is SO HARD to know that she worries and stresses about life things, already, at just six-years-old. I want to be able to protect her from feeling anxiety about the horrible possibilities in life, because I have those anxieties so I know how hard and distracting and unhelpful they are. I don't want my daughter to struggle with that, too.
And, the thing is, I don't know what to do. I don't know what to say. I don't know if my words are helping her understand and cope and handle stress, or if they're making her worries worse. I don't know if we should talk and talk and discuss and discuss, or if I should just drop it.
But oh, as I think about my sweet and sensitive little girl, I just want to squeeze her tight and curl up on the sofa under a warm blanket and never let her go. I don't want the world to touch her and hurt her. I just want to homeschool her and keep her home and live in a little bubble.
Except that I don't. Because I know that school is such a wonderful place. She is learning so much and getting so much out of it. And the world is a wonderful place. (Except when it isn't. Ugh.) And she has to experience life and live and feel things and try things and have hard experiences and I have to stick up my shoulders (and overcome my desire to hunker down and stay in bed and cry and cry) and be strong. I have to be the person that she can come to, with arms open and heart open and love overflowing. So that when she does get stressed out or kicked down or terribly worried, she has a safe place to come back to. I want her to know, that she always has us, we are always here. And we will do our hardest to help her and give her the tools she needs to manage whatever feelings she has.
It is okay to be sad. It is okay to be upset. It is okay to feel scared about a Lockdown Drill. We are here for you, Hope. We will talk with you and hug you and wipe away your tears whenever you need us to. And when you need us to not talk about it, and to distract you with happy thoughts, well, we're hear for that too.