My, How School Safety Has Changed
Hearing my daughter talk casually about necessary lockdown drills is jarring.
My daughter Maggie officially started preschool this fall, and she’s loving every second of it. And by every second, I mean … every single solitary second. She barely says goodbye to me at the door when I drop her off because she can’t wait to get to her classroom. Maggie has always had an interest in learning new things, and this year she’s getting exposed to art, music, computers, library and gym. Unfortunately, she’s also getting exposed to things I wish she didn’t have to learn about.
Every day, when my wife and I sit down with Maggie to have dinner, we ask her to tell us her favorite and least favorite things about her day. The other day, she said her favorite thing was the lockdown drill. At first, I thought I had misheard her.
“The what?” I asked, looking sideways at my wife.
Maggie repeated herself. Lockdown drill. When I asked why she liked it, she said because the teacher gave them all suckers for being really, really quiet.
I never had to do lockdown drills growing up. The only drill we practiced was a fire drill, and I’d hardly call it a drill. I’d call it a momentary break in class where we all shuffled outside and stood shivering in the cool fall weather until someone told us to go back in again. We knew it was important to “practice” but none of us ever thought a fire would actually occur.
Lockdown drills though? The threat of someone in the building? An active shooter? We all know that these types of things certainly happen. These days, they probably happen more than fires.
Maggie is too young to really understand the concept of lockdown drills. All she knows is that it’s important to listen to the teacher and be very quiet, and if she stays super quiet, well, then she gets a sucker. For the preschool teacher, the sucker is a symbol of something much greater—it’s a gift of safety.
The sad truth is that we are living in different times these days. Lockdown drills are necessary. But hearing my daughter talk about them so casually is still jarring, nonetheless.
And here I thought my worst fear about Maggie going to school would be some kid teasing her for having two moms.