That could have been my classroom.
I was numb and shocked at first, in that kind of distant way I have become when these things occur. I wasn’t sure what had happened when I turned on the news, and found myself madly clicking away at the computer, trying to get back to the start of the event, to find out the facts. You see, I’d been in my Kindergarten classroom all day, disconnected from the outside world, plotting and planning my next exciting art activity, determining the letter of the week, and the way in which I was going to guide these kids toward reading bigger words.
So, I have to imagine it was my room. To make it real, to get my brain around the incomprehensible horror of it. My room and the classroom next door, half the children gone. The principal, the psychologist, the various adults, shot in the front office. Chaos over the intercom. The teachers, grabbing kids in the hallway and dragging them into the nearest room, locking the doors. First graders in fifth grade rooms, sixth graders in the second. A few stragglers in the library.
We have a plan. Of course we have a plan. But I have two doors to lock, half my windows have broken blinds, and the others don’t have blinds at all. And what good are blinds when there are guns like that? I picture myself running around, drawing the children toward the safest corner of the room, rubbing their backs, calming their cries, hiding where we can’t hide. Pushing down my own fear.
And the helplessness. The sheer helplessness. Because there isn’t a whole lot I can do about it. Part of my job is to protect them. Protect them. How can I protect them from mentally ill people with guns?
I came home frustrated with my students yesterday. The holiday joy and madness is infecting them, and they are happily dancing up the walls. I wonder what Monday will be like. I will hug them, I will chide them, I will become frustrated with them. Because honestly, those things don’t change. But I couldn’t love them more. And I’ll find myself constantly looking out that window, wondering if I could keep them safe.