It was 10:36 when the announcement came over the intercom speaker on the phone on my desk. I knew it was coming. It is just a drill. I know it is just a drill.
For about 6 minutes, my daughter's preschool (whose phone system is tied in with ours) was practicing what they would do if someone came into their school to do them harm.
And for about 6 minutes, and for a full 15 after the "all clear" signal came through, I've been sitting at my desk crying.
I had the same reaction to the email I got from my son's kindergarten teachers back in January. They did a similar drill, though in their infinite creativity, they called it a "giant bunny drill", you know, in case the class was put upon by a herd of giant bunnies. Each kid was given a special hiding place int he classroom, safe from the giant bunnies. They were just letting parents know that if our kids came home talking about attacking rabbits, this was why.
They were also letting us know that they were thinking about my child's safety, and even in thinking of that, they were also protecting his 6-year-old psyche, one that--so-far-- believes that bad guys only exist on Lego Ninjago and Star Wars.
I am grateful that my kids go to schools where the teachers are trained in "lockdown". I trust those teachers every day with little beings more precious to me than my own life.
But I am so sad for the world they live in. I am deeply grieved that my three-year-old is learning how to hide from bad guys during her school day and something inside me permanently broke when my kindergartener laughingly told me about his giant bunny hiding place.
This is the part of parenting that no one can quite articulate: this feeling of total helplessness in the face of obvious evil. And that evil might be anything or anywhere: drunk driver, cancer, man with a gun in an elementary school. There is absolutely nothing practical we can do to escape either the evil or the helplessness, so we do nothing practical.
Instead, I do the impractical, the lavish, the ridiculous, the first stop and last resort: I pray. I have to. For non-believers, this sounds pointless, I get that. But at least feels like more than sobbing with my head down on my desk. And I believe that it is more than sobbing. It is admitting that, while I'm doing my best at taking care of what I've been given, there is a point after which control is no longer mine. There is terror and comfort in that. It's the best I've got in times like this.