I dropped my son off at school this morning and as he was getting his stuff together to get out of the car, he started telling me how they were going to be practicing how they would do a lockdown. He said he was afraid because what if there really was an intruder? What if the intruder got him? What if?
I explained the best I could in the moment that the lockdowns were good to practice because that way he and his friends would know exactly what to do if there really was an intruder. It would help them be safer than if they had never done a lockdown before and then had to in a real situation. I told him that the school had safety measures put in place to hopefully keep an intruder from ever getting very far into the building even if one did show up, but just in case the next step was to do a lockdown to protect themselves. I honestly don’t know that I was much comfort to him, but he seemed to accept my answer and got his things and went on into school.
And I cried all the way home.
I cried because I wanted to be able to tell him that everything would be fine. That he wouldn’t ever have to worry about an intruder coming into his school. That he was safe from harm there. That we lived in a place where things like that just don’t happen. But I knew I couldn’t say those things truthfully.
Because we live in a town where a man goes into the Walmart parking lot and shoots random people. We live in a town where a husband kills his wife and himself in their own home while their child is at school. We live in a country where evil men gain access to guns and mow people down at an outdoor concert. We live in a world where a woman drowns her own children because they were getting in the way of her relationship with her boyfriend.
Our world is overwrought with sin. And with sin comes pain and loss and death. And being a parent in the midst of all that is hard. You want to shield your children from it all, protect them from the ones that would set out to do them harm. To tell them that everything will be okay and they don’t have to worry. But sometimes there’s just not a comforting answer. Sometimes the truth is just scary and the best way to deal with it is to be prepared in the event that something bad happens.
Last week there was a news reporter in the park lot of the school asking parents in the pickup line if they talked to their children about active shooter situations. When she got to me, she asked if I’d like to go on camera and share my thoughts, to which I of course replied “no, thank you” on account of my hair looking completely inappropriate for TV. But even beyond that, I don’t know that I would have had a response at the moment. How do you talk to you children about such horrible things? You want them to be aware, but you also don’t want to scare the living daylights out of them at the same time.
So I called my husband this morning in tears…my level-headed, military-minded, always prepared husband. (God knew I needed somebody who could take a fearful situation and make a logical plan. Stuff like this tears my nerves slam up.) He and I going to sit down together tonight and have a conversation with our boys about it all. I think that’s really all you can do sometimes. Keep the lines of communication open, talk through the fears, prepare them for the world as best you can, and pray.
I am curious though…if you have children, do you talk to them about what to do if there’s a shooter at their school? And if you’ve had that conversation, how did it go?