At least 14 children went to school this morning and now they are dead. Many others are injured or unaccounted for. It's a week before Christmas. How did a perfectly normal day suddenly turn upside-down? Just a few hours ago, I dropped my two kids off at elementary school with hugs and a smile, just like it was any other day of the week, happy in the comfort of knowing I'd be seeing them again in another six hours. I'm sure parents at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, just an hour's drive away, thought the same thing when they put their kids on the buses this morning, too. And now many of those parents are no longer wondering what movie they should rent for family pizza night but whether or not it's their child who was among those killed.
This is not just another news story to me that only shakes me up a little and makes me grateful "we don't live there." Because my family could very well live there. I grew up in the next town over. I worked in Newtown for many years, and have been to Sandy Hook School, one of the town's several elementary schools, many times. The school entrance and front hallway are clear as a bell to me still. This story hits incredibly, frightfully close to home for me -- literally. It could have been my kids' school.
My kids' current school could have been that school. My kids' school could be that school today ... tomorrow ... or the next day. Because in case you're wondering, Newtown, Connecticut is Anywhere, USA. It's a small, charming, mostly affluent and white New England suburb with a main street lined in historic houses that have graced the cover of many magazines and artists' tapestries. It's got a big flagpole in the center of town that people ram their cars into all the time.
The details are flying fast and furious, almost too fast to keep up. I know the police are trying not to alarm anybody, but this sounds bad, very, very bad.
As we all wait for more details, I go through all the scenarios in my head of how I'd find out about something like this if I'd been living in Newtown today. Perhaps I'd get a text message sent to the phone, like they do for snow days, or one of the other parents would call me. I'm sure the schools have a procedure for something like this, but heck if I ever bothered to find out what it was because "we don't live there."
So I would get the text or the call and stand speechless as the blood drains from my face and I struggle for air, trying to comprehend the meaning. Only to be told the school is on lock-down and police are still trying to "assess" the situation, so don't even bother to come down to the school to see if you kids are still alive. We'll let you know when we know.
Which would be followed by me driving to the school at 90 miles an hour to get the eff into that school and make sure my kids were okay.
I imagine this is what every single parent of a child who attends Sandy Hook School on Dickinson Drive is doing right now too -- storming the school demanding information and answers. I don't know what parent would be able to think calmly and rationally enough to stay home and sit by the phone in a time like this.
I'm having a hard time doing that right now and I don't even have any children in that school. Right now, my kids are in a different school, their school. They are probably finishing up lunch and getting ready to go to recess or music or art or math. They are talking with their friends and laughing, playing, and are perfectly happy and safe, because they are at school, isn't that right?
How are you handling the details of this story?
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