At 8:55 yesterday morning, my wife came into my home office and said that there was an active shooter report at my son’s high school, with multiple shots fired. The school was on lockdown, and both roads leading to the school were blocked off.
A parent’s emotions at a time like this are difficult to describe. Imagine fear, anxiety, love, anger, despair, grief, and hope, all turned up as high as they can go and mixed while a voice repeats itself repeatedly in your head — “This can’t be happening. This can’t be happening.”
We texted our son, but he didn’t answer
We both texted our son — Are you okay? There was no answer. The high school is less than two miles from our home, so my wife and I drove to the end of a short walking trail that led to the school. At the edge of campus, we found several other parents looking as confused and frightened as we were.
There were flashing lights everywhere. Dozens of city police, FBI, and state police roamed the area with automatic weapons. Several ambulances from our city and surrounding towns were there. It was like a movie scene.
How could this happen in our little city in Maine?
After what seemed like forever but was probably only half an hour, a police officer approached our group to tell us that they would shortly begin bussing the children to an off-campus building. We were instructed to pick our children up there.
The relief we felt was potent
Right after that, we received a text from the school district saying they didn’t believe the information was credible. It was a hoax. We later found out that several Maine high schools had received the same information and gone into lockdown. Then we got a text from our son saying he was okay. Relief came like a waterfall, overpowering everything else.
The temperature as we waited for our children outside the building across town was in the thirties. There was a lot of shivering, but it wasn’t from the cold. Nobody complained about the weather.
All you want is to hug your child in a situation like that. As a friend said, “This shows you what matters.” I couldn’t agree more. I had never experienced anything like what I felt when I heard there was a shooter inside the high school. I think every parent outside that building would say the same thing.
They call it a hoax, but it wasn’t a hoax to the kids, teachers, or parents
It’s being called a hoax. I suppose that, technically, the incident fits that definition. But to those kids and adults inside the high school, it was real and frightening. They barricaded classroom doors and hid in corners and under desks from what was a real threat to them. Hoax is not a strong enough word.
Our son is okay, at least physically. He had trouble sleeping last night because he kept hearing sirens. He told me about the tears from several of his classmates as they hid silently in the corner of their classroom.
My son tried to be brave and comfort them, even though he was shaking and fearing for his life like everyone else. He told me about his trigonometry teacher, who said, “I’m not going down without a fight,” as she started barricading the doors. In my mind, that woman is “Teacher of the Year.”
Hug your kids every day.
It sounds clichéd. Maybe it is. Who cares? Hug them anyway, and make it count. Tell them you love them. Be thankful for every time they make you laugh, cry, be proud, or be angry.
Be thankful for the teachers and police officers who keep them safe. Most of all, be thankful to have your children in your life. Be thankful even when they come home late or break the rules.
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