Filed under: Family
My family moved to Illinois in the mid 70s. Illinois is tornado country, as is much of the Midwest. I remember practicing tornado drills in my elementary school. The intercom would buzz, we’d hear the announcement from the principal, and class would be suspended for a few minutes. We’d file out in single lines, follow the teachers to an inner corridor without windows, face our lockers, and drop to the floor. We were instructed to “curl up like turtles,” crouch on the floor with our heads touching our knees, hands protecting our heads from imaginary flying debris. We’d stay in this position for 10 or so minutes, occasionally stealing glances upward at our teachers, who solemnly paced the hallways and reminded us to stay silent.
We did have a few severe storms that I can remember, but they always were predicted days in advance and never seemed as bad as the dire forecasts. (But boy, once you see the “pea soup” sky, you never forget it!) In any case, I think my grade-school friends and I felt pretty confident that as long as we were indoors, in a basement, and away from windows when a bad storm hit, we’d be OK. Maybe the roof would be ripped up or something, but we’d be fine, our families would be fine.
The new reality is that children these days practice lockdowns. Last year, a West Coast mommyblogger that I follow talked about her 6-year-old’s drill, during which the teacher turned off lights and locked the door, covered the door window with black paper, and had the children hide silently by their cubbies while the principal walked through the hallways, rattling the doorknobs. I was naively shocked to read about it – and sorry as hell that as a society, we have stooped to the point where these drills must be practiced.
What kind of life are we living, that young children nationwide routinely are being prepared to face a surprise attack by a lunatic with an assault rifle and hundreds of bullets? Is teaching my children how to play dead going to be part of my Mommy-skillz arsenal? And how am I supposed to tell them that there may be no warning for these attacks and no reassurance that if you do what you practiced during the drill, you’ll be OK?
I’ve cried with the news. I’ve hugged my children. I’ve written to my local government representatives (you can, too). I don’t know what else to do in the meantime, so it’s just back to working, making dinner, doing laundry, wiping runny noses. And being sadly grateful for the mundaneness of it all.
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