I've been the mom of a primary student for one month now. Obviously the biggest change, for me, has been entrusting virtual strangers to keep Miss M safe for me five days a week. We live in what is typically considered a very peaceful part of Canada, however this past month our region has been shaken up with multiple threats of mass violence. In the first week of school alone the local colleges were evacuated due to (hoax) bomb threats, suspicious packages closed down busy streets and a neighbouring province had to evacuate every child in school due to (another) hoax terror threat. Not to mention the continued false bomb threats that have been happening around the city, and, these past few days, bizarre reports of people dressed as evil clowns terrorizing drivers and school children. Your basic nightmare to pair with the first month of school.
So when my daughter came home from primary telling me about the lockdown drill she had in gym class, I admit I had mixed feelings about it.
I knew it was happening, the school had informed us ahead of time, yet the news took me back for a minute after all the other issues that have been going on. I understand why these drills have to be done and I appreciate them being prepared and having a plan. I know, like fire drills, it's better for everyone to know what to do in case of an emergency rather than have mass panic.
But fires are usually caused by an accident and something we also prepare for at home; a lockdown only happens when someone is trying to intentionally harm our children; and not something we worry about at home. It's a very new and different kind of threat my child is being exposed to and it makes me sad that it's a necessary part of her childhood.
To the school's credit my daughter, who often gets anxious in situations like these, seemed unfazed, but hearing her describe how they had to stay very quiet and cover all the windows in case there was something bad happening outside, well, it fazed me. Because while what that "something bad" may be is vague in her mind, in my mind it's all too real. Images of Columbine, Sandy Hook, Ecole Polytechnique and so many more are all still very vivid for me; not to mention the increasing regularity of threats around here.
While she told me about the drill I nodded and told her she did a great job following instructions and gauged her for any lingering worries or concerns she had about it. When I was satisfied it ranked no higher to her than something interesting that happened in school that day, I changed the subject to happier things and we moved on from it.
But it stuck in my mind and that night I spent some time remembering all those who have lost their lives due to unnecessary violence, and the loved ones they left behind. Perhaps a world without violence is an unrealistic hope, but that doesn't stop me from praying that some day my children will be part of the generation that says enough is enough and are actually able to create that utopia, or something close to it. At the very least we, as the adults influencing these children, can do our part to guide them towards being peaceful people, and the more there are of those in this world, the better.
Stay safe, be kind and be extra thankful this Thanksgiving weekend for your loved ones, and for those who are responsible for protecting our loved ones when we can't be there.