Photo: Minor came home with this beautiful work of art today. It’s remarkable enough to put on the blog because it’s the first work of art I’ve seen from him that didn’t have a speck of yellow on it. This child has always found a way to put in yellow (or simply not do the work). I’m not a big hearts sort of girl. I prefer other shapes. But these two hearts are gonna get hung somewhere before the end of the week!
Two stories from my kindergartener today. One good, one bad. The world is always in balance. Even this world, which is full of bad news of late. Something is coming. Good will return.
I’ll start with the dark and then end with the light.
Ursa Major got off the bus today and said the following sentence:
“Today, we had a drill at school for if there is an active shooter at my school.”
What the hell do you say to your child in response to that?
They’d sent a letter about this. I didn’t object to the idea that children should learn how to seek safety in the case of emergency. However, I object to the language. I really have a problem with the fact that Major knows what an “active shooter” is. I’m not convinced that it’s age appropriate. I also don’t feel very well equipped to explain any of this to him.
The fact that my child said the term “active shooter” to me without a question or without reaction tells me that he probably doesn’t fully understand what the term means. I’m not sure if this is a mercy or if this is a problem. Here we are, with this language, this big concept, just floating in his head, with nothing concrete to anchor it, nothing for him to grasp onto. I don’t understand. Why introduce the idea at all then?
They then followed up with a bus drill in case of fire. “We got to go out the back of the bus!”
“I want you to know that it’s very unlikely that any of those bad things will happen to you. You are safe at school and you are safe on the bus. You know that, right?” I felt obligated to say this before we walked in the house. It seemed really important to reiterate. I said it for myself, too–who the hell needs this right now? I can’t really think about this, too.
My child nodded. I couldn’t really read him. He was simply quiet and nodded, gave a little “uh huh.” I can’t tell if he was dismissing me, like “yes, I know.” Or if he was contemplative, like “why would you say that?”
He seems far less upset about it than I am. What a sad, sad state of affairs. My kindergartener knows what an active shooter is.
I was a freshman at high school with Columbine happened. I remember watching those students go out of the building with their hands up on our classroom television. I can remember it so clearly: I was sitting in a science lab at the very end of the school day, backpack ready to go, twitchy as I waited for the bell to ring so I could bolt out to catch my bus home. The idea of it–a peer walking into school with a gun and the intention of mass murder–was as foreign of a concept to me then as it is to my son right now. I don’t remember fear. I remember distance, so many reasons why such a thing could never happen in my school. I went home, did my homework, went to bed and got up the next morning. I had many worries about school: being safe while in the building wasn’t one of them.
So many lifetimes ago. I have a kindergartener now. He has used the term “active shooter” in a complete sentence. This is the world we live in.
My son surprised me again during dinner (welcome to the lighter story).
We were all enjoying too many tacos and were wrapping things up (the boys were starting to get silly). I was just about to excuse the two from the table, when Major had a moment. His eyes opened wide and he sat up full and straight. “Oh! I have to tell you something! Something about school!”
I was worried (because of the earlier story. I didn’t want him to tell Minor about it), but I told him to tell us.
“We are going to write our own storybooks!” Major announced. “They are going to be real books that we really get to write!”
We were all impressed.
“And I am writing about you, Mommy!”
“I’m writing about when you got the big cut on your skin,” Major said.
The Husband and I exchanged looks. Really? “Uh oh.”
“I told [my teacher] about how you got this big long cut on your tummy,” he said, as he pointed to his chest. He pointed to the part of his chest where I have my (still ugly, very visible) scar. “And I told her how you had all sorts of things taken out of your tummy and they are all bad.”
I smacked my head. The Husband chuckled.
Major looked at us and chuckled too, trying to be in on the joke.
“Baby, this is my chest,” I said, pointing to my scar.
“Ohh, right! Your chest!”
Uh huh. “And I didn’t have a lot of stuff taken out. I had a small piece of fat called a lipoma removed. It was not a big deal.”
He chewed on that lipoma word. We’ve used it before. Matter of fact, the boys have gone around and around this surgery thing. They’ve checked up on the scar, have asked a few questions over and over… I didn’t realize how much impact it would have on them.
“I think I’m going to have to make some changes at school tomorrow.”
I wonder what the teachers think happened to me!?
So… I’m writing a quick email after I write this post.
It is Monday. The world is still turning, the sun is still rising. The moon is, in fact, super. Surely there is meaning in this life. We’re going to find our way.
I’m grateful for your presence, Dear Reader. Let’s have a productive week.
Until Wednesday, take care.