Last week my six year old gets in the car after picking him up from the car pool pick-up, and he mentions how they did a fire drill that day, but “it was a lot different than a fire drill, mommy.” Then he kept going on and on about “bad guys” and “guns.”
By the time we got home, he was acting out the entire drill . . . telling me how they had to hide in the bathroom on the floor, with the doors locked and the lights off, and no making noise or else the bad guys with guns will come and find them, and boom-boom-boom (actual gunshot noises from the mouth of a bebe!) He said they had to hide their faces, too.
The administration and his teacher are really good with communication, but unfortunately his teacher had forgotten to put his weekly folder in his backpack that gives parents important information like this. I was highly concerned with the way my son was so animated about this lockdown drill that I emailed his teacher for more information. She forwarded me the letter and it all made sense, but let me tell you – they are going to extremes for an elementary school (ages 5-8)*.
Don’t get me wrong. I grew up in the Columbine and 9/11 era . . . I’m not unfamiliar with school shootings and terrorist attacks. I had just never heard of actual schools doing it! And such young children, too. I really like the idea that they’re teaching them of these possible scenarios. After talking to a friend about it, I had to sit back and think about what my real issue with this was.
Was I upset that they didn’t let us know before they planned on doing the drill? Was I upset with the way my son perceived the entire thing? Was I upset with the terminology that they were teaching these young children?
What’s the phrase – grown up words for grown up problems?
I know there’s only so many gentle ways of telling children about this type of thing, and maybe the way my son was so animated about it wasn’t because of the terminology the teacher/school used . . . maybe it was just his mind interpreting the situation. He’s good about that. To me, however, it just felt wrong.
My son walking up the stairs and saying “don’t worry, I won’t die” that first night absolutely broke my heart. My having to explain to him that if something like that ever happens, not just in school, that he needs to do exactly what he was told in the lockdown drill – hide, be quiet, and don’t look or come out. I shouldn’t have to tell my six year old that.
It’s been a few days and I still can’t bring myself to find this to be okay. I’m okay with my son knowing what to do in such a situation, but there’s something niggling at me.
*Not only did they teach the kids what to do, they also made the phone lines inaccessible and brought in police and emergency personnel.