This post was originally published on April 27, 2016. We are sharing this again tonight in light of the mass shooting in Florida on February 14th.
Remember when we were in school and we had tornado drills? We’d crunch down in the hall and giggle with our friends. The enormity of a natural disaster whipping through our town, blowing out the school windows, or destroying our homes was above our comprehension. Is that the same with our children nowadays and their lockdown drills?
My kids just had an unplanned lockdown drill. The motivation behind these drills is that there is a protocol in place if some crazy person came through our elementary school with a gun. The reality that it is a distinct possibility makes me want to lock my children in our house and throw away the key.
There are many things in the world we currently live in that are hard to explain to our children. Biological babies that grow in someone else’s belly, copying animals’ DNA to breed the exact same animal, planes crashing purposefully into buildings—the world is ridiculously complicated. How do you explain things to children when you barely understand them yourself?
After the last drill, I asked my kids why they practiced hiding under their desks during a school day. They explained point blank, clear as day, that it was in case someone came into their school with a gun. That scenario is just as much a reality as a tornado coming through the Midwest. They will never know what it’s like to walk a traveler to their plane in the airport, or go through security with their shoes on. They will never know what the New York skyline looked like with the World Trade Center towers, or what it’s like to go to a public place without fear of a crazy person shooting it up. They will also always know what it’s like to crouch down under their desks to avoid bullets.
The really crazy part is that my kids didn’t even seem slightly spooked by all this. Normal life in the 21st century entails lockdown drills and nutty people potentially coming into buildings with guns! The fact that their life in school requires them to have a protocol for something like this is just general normal daily life.
How did that happen?!
With every generation, it seems like an innocence is lost. Certainly my ancestors who went through different wars walked away from those incidents with many scars, most of which never to be physically seen. They moved forward with the pain of what they went through in their memories, but with hope for a better life. I can’t say in true honesty that I can make that promise to my children. I don’t know if a world where there are lockdowns will lead to a better life. I don’t know that their children will have it any better. Our ancestors all had hope. I am without.
The more stories you hear about school shootings, public danger, and terrorism, the more you can’t help but hold your kids tighter. I look into their little, blank eyes, so full of life and intrigue about the world. Could it be that hugging our children, holding on a little tighter, could be enough to keep the world a better place? If everyone just loved each other more and hated each other less, would that be enough? It seems like it should be.
In a world where 5-year-olds practice hiding from bullets, I don’t know that it will get any better, and I shudder at the thought of it getting any worse. It’s quite possible that we will learn what it’s like to live in a military state with fear of our neighbors and never really feeling safe. In order to protect our families, are we left with no better choice than barricading ourselves in? Walking around suspecting everyone? Or just praying that something will change and the world will get better?
Either way, I’m heartbroken for the world my kids are growing up in.