I always look forward to the dinner hour in my house.
At 5 and 7, my kids are still at the age where they WANT to talk, where they freely volunteer random, disjointed and often hilarious insights into their day.
But Wednesday was different.
The kids were in a great mood – they were ecstatic I made them “spiders” for dinner — a completely ridiculous meal that includes cut-up pieces of hot dog speared with raw spaghetti noodles and then boiled stove-top so that the noodles become “spider legs” and the hot dog the “body.”
Seriously, I can’t make this up. They go crazy for it.
Anyway, after shoving way too much food in his mouth, my son blurted out with much excitement: “Did you know we had a FIRE drill AND a lock down drill today?”
My 5-year-old daughter chimed in: Yes! We had to sit crisscross applesauce and not talk so the bad guy wouldn’t find us.
The fact that my children’s elementary school had a drill to prepare for an active shooter situation on campus one month after 17 were killed at a Florida high school is not surprising.
And I am grateful administrators here are working hard to prepare the kids.
But I am also heartbroken.
I am heartbroken because my children are so nonchalant about all of it. Perhaps my youngest is that way because she doesn’t completely understand it.
But my 7-year-old gets it. And for him, the idea that a “bad guy” with a gun might waltz onto his school campus and try to hurt people is just a fact of life.
It’s now just part of what you learn at school.
You know, like sight words, or how to write your name and how to count by tens.
It’s literally something that he has — and will likely — continue to grow up hearing about. Reading. Writing. Arithmetic. Shelter-in-place.
My oldest who was in first grade, was apparently in music class when the drill happened.
He was quick to point out that the fire drill came first. And that it was immediately followed by the lockdown drill.
“They say, ‘Teachers, secure your classrooms,’ he said. “That’s how you know it’s a lockdown. Because the fire could just be a trick to get you outside.
“Did you know,” he added, “They can talk to ALL the teachers at once from the (front) office?”
Do they even know how sad this is?
I asked my 5-year-old, who is in pre-kindergarten, what she did during the drill.
We went to block center. But we weren’t allowed to play with the blocks. Because if you knock a block over, the bad guy might hear you.
She then told me that her teacher sat with them in block center, put her fingers to her lips and taught the kids to “hold a bubble” in their mouths to help them keep quiet.
Welcome to elementary school education in America, circa 2018.
The teacher’s aide, she said, was the only one who didn’t go to block center.
“She had to go to the windows really fast and put up paper so that the bad guy couldn’t see in and see where we we were.”