I’m not sure about your school, but ours sends what amounts to robocalls whenever they need to reach parents and guardians quickly. Texts, emails, phone calls- they all go out in a blast in an attempt to make sure everyone knows exactly what is going on, be it a rainy day dismissal process or, like what happened recently, a possible evacuation due to a nearby brush fire.
It was the same week the nation watched in horror as a tornado tore through Moore, Oklahoma and our hearts ached an unbearable ache as we saw the destruction of the schools wrought by mother nature.
So when not 48 hours later your school gives you the option to evacuate your child, you hop in your car and drive like a bat out of hell to evacuate your child.
It’s about 7-9 miles from our door to school. I’m not sure how long it took me to get there but I can tell you I was glad to see the fire trucks and sheriff’s sirens flying past me on the freeway…all headed in the same direction. It meant they were there to help (look for the helpers says Mr. Roger’s Mom!) and it meant I could follow them just as fast as I wanted.
By the time my children were in my arms firefighters had already done an amazing job, containing the blaze with skill and asskicking. But needless to say, hours later sitting in the living room, the three of us sat closer, held on tighter, didn’t move from the other’s sight.
Imagine yesterday sitting in treatment with an IV in my arm when the phone rings again. I see the call is coming from a mother I know works at the school. There is another fire. This one further away and is not threatening the school in any way, but my 2nd grader saw the smoke on her way to lunch. Cue fear. Cue nerves. Cue wanting Mom.
With a gratefulness I can’t even begin to repay I got to talk to my daughter and reassure her that she was safe, that the fire was far away, and the smoke she could see was just smoke and wasn’t hurting anyone. The firefighters were doing their jobs, the parents didn’t need to come, school could go on as usual…but if she wanted, Dad or I would find a way to come get her.
With the love of our Mom friend and hearing my voice, she mustered the courage to stay calm and remained at school for the last three hours of the day. This meant Dad didn’t have to take time off work. This meant I didn’t have to miss a much-needed treatment that had to FINALLY be finished so I can begin my next round when school is OUT for the year.
Her brother, who is usually much more sensitive than she, didn’t even know there was a fire.
I talked about what happened with both kids when they got home. Reminded them just how hard everyone at school works to make sure they are always safe, and how Dad and I would never let them be anywhere near a fire if it wasn’t safe, and we’d be there as fast as we could if we needed to be.
I found myself answering simple questions like ‘you mean if there is another fire, or a tornado, or a shooter…’
And I had to agree even though I couldn’t believe the words were coming from me… ‘yes, we will be there, and they will keep you safe until we can get to you, no matter if there is a fire or a tornado or an earthquake or a shooter…’
…and my voice trailed off and I fought back tears because the last thing they needed to see was that I too, was scared.