Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Not exactly according to plan

Today I went on a field trip with Big Dog's class.  He's been complaining that I spend a lot of time with Little Dog's class and not much time with his class.  And if I was seeing things from his perspective, he'd be absolutely right, so I needed to fix that.  Today's field trip was a half day trip to the Seattle Tilth to learn about gardening.  Not far from work, not a full day and on a day where my schedule was pretty easily rearranged, it sounded just about perfect.  I dropped the boys off at school in the morning, went to work for a few hours, then headed over the the school to meet up with the class.

With several other parent chaperons and a teacher, who I believe is among the finest teachers I have ever had the pleasure of meeting (he's truly amazing!) we managed to herd 23 eight-year-olds from school, to the bus stop, on and off of the Seattle Metro bus and into the playground near the Good Shepherd Center where the Seattle Tilth is located.  Upon our arrival, the kids were told to find a seat at the picnic tables and eat their lunches after which they would have a little time to play before heading to our class.  They had barely cracked into their lunches when a man approached the group and asked us to please collect up our lunches and follow him.  To the adults he mentioned that he was the principal of the Meridian school, a private school in the same center as the Seattle Tilth, and that the school was currently under lockdown at the request of the Seattle police.  He asked us to come with him quickly to the gym where our group would be safe and would be able to observe the lockdown as guests of their school.

The children packed up with amazing speed despite having no idea (or anxiety because they had no details) about what was going on.  We ushered them into the gym in an orderly line and we locked the doors behind us.  We settled in to finish our lunches and as we waited the principal asked for a few of the adults to come into the hallway so he could explain the situation without upsetting the children.  If you were in Seattle today, you probably already know what happened.  A man entered a local cafe and opened fire, killing two people on the scene and injuring three more.  He then fled, still armed, into the neighborhood, which was not terribly far from where we were standing.  The public schools in the area were all on lockdown, the police were conducting a door to door search of the area, and we were here in the gym of a private school waiting for more information.

I don't know if you've even been through a lock down or even a lockdown drill, I sure hadn't.  In a lockdown, you just sit quietly and wait with the doors locked, windows closed and a furious anxiety raging through all of the adults.  You can't play, you can't make noise, you can't even talk.  You just wait.  Quietly.  Until they tell you that you can stop.  The kids managed it exceptionally well.  Someone brought in books for them to read and others played silent games of Rock, Scissors, Paper while the parents all sat, focused on their smartphones either texting our spouses about our safety or constantly hitting reload trying to get new details from the outside that would help us feel safer.  I don't know about the other parents, but whenever someone knocked on the door, I jumped.  I couldn't help but obsess over what would happen if someone did get into the school, how would I keep my child safe and how would Dave and Little Dog handle the situation if something did happen.  I looked for things that we could hide behind and considered the safety of our position relative to the windows should shots be fired from outside.  And I waited. Needless to say, the waiting was excruciating.

After a while, someone from the Seattle Tilth came to into the gym and started a very quiet introduction to the gardening program to help pass the waiting time.  The children were all exceptionally well focused  and gave polite but enthusiastic answers to his questions.  A few minutes into the presentation, we were given the all clear.  The police had lifted the lockdown in this area and we were able to resume our regular schedule.  The children, who had all behaved so well, were allowed to have 10 minutes on the playground and then we all learned a bit about gardening and worms.

The shooter was found much later in an entirely different neighborhood, the dead were identified and the life for the rest of Seattle went on.  I'm still shaking.

1 comment:

geekymummy said...

Wow, horrific. So glad you are all ok
I don't seem to get your blog feed in my Facebook newsfeed any more, weird.

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