After Newtown Tragedy, My First-Grader Believes a Lie (and I'm Grateful)

Mom Moment 5

Like many parents, I had a nearly overwhelming desire to go pick my child up from school last Friday. As the news of the horrific events in Newtown kept unfolding and the incomprehensible scope of the massacre became more clear, I kept thinking about how my son was -- right at that very moment -- sitting in a first-grade classroom much like the one in Sandy Hook.

The reason I didn't jump in my car and go grab my child from his school is because I thought ahead to the discussion we would have about the shootings. What sort of message would it send, I wondered, if I tried to reassure him his school was safe -- after I had arrived in a teary panic to take him home?

As it turns out, he hasn't shown any signs of worry that what happened in Newtown could happen where we live. It's partially because he's a young boy who can't fully comprehend this terrible tragedy, but it's also because he believes a lie … one that I'm happy to support.

We chose to talk to our 7-year-old about Newtown over the weekend. We presented facts, we talked about looking for the helpers, we talked about his school's safety measures. He absorbed the information and seemed to understand. He didn't ask many questions.

I wondered, though, if there were any undercurrents of anxiety we weren't seeing. Eventually I gently asked him if he was worried about anything bad happening in his own school, and he said he wasn't. "I'm not scared, because we do lockdown drills," he said. "I don't think other schools do those. We close the doors and cover the windows and we all sit in a special circle on the carpet and no one can make any noise, and that keeps the bad guys away."

Well. To be honest, my first inclination was to correct him. Not to frighten him, but … I don't know, I can't really explain it. I guess it felt almost disrespectful to not acknowledge that the children and teachers of Sandy Hook had surely done plenty of lockdown drills, and yet that didn't magically stop a deranged killer from doing what he did last Friday morning.

When I picture my child's classroom, I see a wooden door with a large glass window that opens to a hallway. I see the other side of the classroom, which faces the street -- it's all windows, including a glass door that leads outside. If a door were kicked or shot open, there is no place to hide inside the classroom itself. No cubbies or cupboards a child (much less all 20+ children) could fit into. No bathroom. Nothing.

But he believes that the lockdown drill the school does every so often -- the lights that go out, the windows that get covered with paper, the children that huddle together in one group as they wait for the all clear -- means that they'll be safe no matter what. He believes that his school is special in this way. And who am I to tell my sweet, trusting boy anything different?

How does your child feel about lockdown drills? Do they take comfort from doing them?

Image via tedeytan/Flickr

safety, crime, kindergarten, elementary school


To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

MomLi... MomLily67

Tragedies like this makes us wonder what our children are going to have to endure to survive elementary education.


Casey Dalbey

glad to know I am not the only one that lied to a 1st grader- I told mine that they "caught" the bad guy and now safe her school is since they have all the exterior doors locked during the day and visitors have to wear "vistor" badges. AND I DON"T FEEL BAD ABOUT TELLING HER ALL THAT!

Nancy... NancyJ422

We can only prepare them for a possible event and hope the lockdown routine never has to be used.  I hope there are also lockdown instructions in the event they are at gym or music or lunch.  Never thought about that until this moment - I worked in the cafeteria and we never had a drill there (you all might want to bring that up with your schools!!).

roger... rogersmommy0306

My son's school has lockdown drills as well. The teacher locks the classroom door and all the students go into the bathroom (that's inside the classroom) and the teacher grabs her cell phone and joins the children in the bathroom (and locks the door once they are all in there). His school has all doors locked once school is in session and you have to enter through the office to gain access to the school where they have a lobby guard system. They also have a liason police officer who is at the schools daily. It's not a perfect system and craziness can happen anywhere, but I feel pretty safe with the measures they have taken and they have promised to look into upping their security even farther.

nonmember avatar J

My daughters school Does Not do lockdown drills. I have spoken to the principal and superintendent about implementing it. I was told they have those drill procedures, however, I asked my daughter if they've ever had a drill like that and she said no. I will bring it up at the next PTO meeting. In the meantime, I talked to my daughter about what to do if a bad person comes into the school. I feel I as her mother has a responsibility to arm her with as much knowledge as possible so she can protect herself as best as she can. What a sad world this is....

1-5 of 5 comments