Note: In October of 2014, there was an attack on our Nation’s capital. A few days later, there were reports of a gunman in Halifax and schools and businesses in the city’s core were put on lockdown. The following is the conversation I had with my daughter about lockdown drills at school…
Last week, on our weekly drive to riding where I get to chit-chat with my daughter about a great number of things, Bones told me they’d had a “lockdown drill” at school that day.
For the last number of years, schools have been practicing “just in case”…the same as they would with a fire drill. Sometimes, they bring about nightmares and when my children were younger…they brought about a whole whack of questions I didn’t want to answer.
“I hate lockdown drills,” I said out loud…to which she immediately defended their merits.
Our conversation continued as I asked where the students hid, were they allowed to talk, what if they were in the bathroom, etc… All sorts of questions I’d not asked when she was younger in fear of scaring her more…questions that, for some reason, seemed ok now.
“Every classroom is different,” she matter-of-factly explained. “Depending on where the door is, the window alongside the door and the windows to the outside…sometimes you have more room to hide but other times, an entire class of students…and sometimes two classes of students…are squished together in a small corner of the classroom.”
And yes, they have to be quiet…but sometimes, something happens and giggles erupt uncontrollably.
It is, after all, just a drill.
She went on to tell me that in grade 7, her class had failed the drill three times. Once when students could be seen by looking in through the side window…twice when the police officer was able to open the door they’d neglected to lock.
Yup…apparently the drills are done when the police are visiting…they usually check the doors and it’s scary when they manage to get in…and you fail.
“What if you’re in the bathroom,” I asked.
“If you have time, you can run to the closest classroom. But if there isn’t time, you hide in the stall. Teachers can’t open their doors to let just one student in…it jeopardizes the entire class.”
I may have shuddered.
“There’s three kinds of lockdowns,” she continued to tell me. I don’t remember what she said they were…something to do with an internal incident…something if serious stuff is going on in the neighbourhood…and another for the not so serious stuff where they aren’t allowed to leave the classroom and doors are locked, but they can continue to work.
Until yesterday, I continued to think that lockdowns were kind of dumb. Until an attack on our Nation’s capital left us reeling. Where drills that children had practiced, were put in place for real.
And then again, this morning, as I followed on twitter of reports that a gunman was on the loose in Halifax. Where schools were locked down in precaution. Where hours later, an arrest was made…a gun was found…and we’re still waiting to hear the details of the investigation.
But our children knew what to do.
I picked up Bones at lunch and she immediately started talking about what had happened that morning. Though her school wasn’t in the city core and wasn’t on lockdown…she was well aware, through social media, exactly what was going on with friends at other schools.
“This is why we have lockdown drills,” she said. “Because there’s crazy people out there and even though we live in Canada…where people are polite and say thank you and I’m sorry…sometimes there’s a bug in our system.”
Sometime’s there’s a bug in our system.
She told me all about her morning, what she’d heard…how there’s a police car parked outside her school at that very moment…just in case.
I checked in with her. Chatted with her. Consoled and listened. Then, I texted Spiderman to see how he was…”stressful morning in Halifax…glad things are under control…I love you” I said.
He responded with, “I agree. I love you too.”
Then, he went on to tell me how he’d spent the morning texting with a friend who was in a school that was on lockdown. How scared she was. How her mother worked downtown where the gunman was seen and how she was in lockdown too.
How terrifying it was. How real it is.
Last week, I thought this lockdown crap was a farce. I hated that my kids were put in a position where they were preparing them for something that, in my mind, only caused further panic…further fear. This is Canada.
Today, I’m thankful. Thankful that while I bury my head in the sand and continue to hope for the best…continue to believe that things that happen in other countries could never happen in ours…that someone else is being pro-active.
I don’t know how to raise my kids through these times any more than anyone else does, but I do know…they’re smarter than we think. NOT telling them things you hear or things that are scary isn’t the answer…because they’ve already heard it.
“I don’t think it’s over,” Bones announced.
“Why not?” I asked.
“Because they said he was wearing a headset,” she said. “So, who was he talking to?”
My mind raced a little. My heart skipped a little.
“I’m sorry Mom,” she continued. “I shouldn’t have said that…I didn’t mean to scare you.”
Her scare me? I spend so much time afraid that I’ll scare her and here…she thinks she’s scaring me while the only thing that scares me is the thought of something awful ever happening to her! To one of my children!
“I hadn’t thought of that,” I’d responded. Then continued to tell her that we don’t know anything yet. We actually don’t know if the phone call regarding the gunman this morning is entirely related to the person arrested and the gun that was found. We don’t know if the descriptions match…if there are coincidences…if it’s related to what went on in Ottawa the day before or Quebec two days before that. I reminded her that the police were vigilant…that we all needed to be more aware of what was going on around us. That we’re not to listen to everything we hear in social media as folks can get carried away with what they’re reporting…many things are unconfirmed at the moment and we’ll know more as the investigation continues. For now…I believe we’re safe.
But we’re not safe.
There are bugs in our system and I have to find the way to parent around them. Thankfully there are others, who are finding ways to work around them too. Who are being proactive…reactive…whose job it is…to keep my loved ones safe.
For that, I’m truly grateful.