You happen to be walking towards your child’s school with lunch boxes in tow for the lunch date you promised them, when you notice a group of parents frantically chatting right outside the front door unable to get into the school. Just then, you get a text message on your phone.
It’s a message from your child’s school saying they are currently in LockOut procedures due to criminal activity in the area. All the kids are safe but check your email for further details…
My heart immediately dropped into my stomach and internally I began to crumble.
I felt that very real panic that I’m sure every parent in our school district felt the second that text/email came through. Obviously, for those of us already standing outside the school, we weren’t in any mindset to simply walk away without gathering all the information we could about that criminal situation and any potential threat it had on our precious, innocent kids inside that school building.
Moments later, the school officer came out and explained there had been an armed robbery in the area and a gunman was on the run just miles from our neighborhood and our schools. As details emerged, we learned there were actually two gunmen on the run. He expressed his concern for those of us with younger kids and asked us to leave the school and get indoors. So, with my little Emmy’s hand in mine, I walked away from the school momentarily dazed and frantic.
The ending of my story is much happier than most. Usually, you hear the words “school and gunman” followed by endless articles of mass chaos and so many innocent lives taken. It’s become a common tragedy and every parent’s worst nightmare as they send their beautiful children off to school.
For us, it was only a 30-minute LockOut until the helicopter spotted the suspects far enough away for them to officially lift the LockOut procedures; and our kids were thankfully never in any real danger. But, for those 30 minutes, I couldn’t help but worry as all those mind-numbing, horrific thoughts of school shootings ran rampant in my mind. All those thoughts of, “what if” came rushing to the forefront of my brain. What if a gunman walked into their school to hide? What if they are in our neighborhood? What if they panic and accidentally or purposefully shoot someone?
I cannot even begin to fathom how difficult life must be for someone who feels their only option is to grab a gun and take it out into the world with intent to steal, scare, or bring harm to others. I also cannot fathom the real tragedies so many children and families have had to go through due to gun violence. It absolutely shatters my heart. I wish I could hug them all and tell them life isn’t supposed to be this hard. I wish I could tell them how sorry I am that for them, it has been.
Thankfully, our reality was much less scary and entirely precautionary for the safety of our children. But, there are no words to describe how grateful I am to have my kids safely tucked in their beds tonight and hear that both suspects were caught and taken in.
My heart is filled with so much gratitude for our school district for implementing these safety guidelines and ensuring our kids stay as safe as possible, even when there is no direct threat to them. Gratitude for the amazing staff, teachers, and school officers who always go above and beyond to look after and protect our children everyday. And, for our city’s police force who worked tirelessly today to catch the suspects and safely handle that situation.
I hope you all hold your kids and loved ones just a little bit tighter tonight and cherish every second you get with them.