Just a Wednesday

To be a parent in the year 2023 in the US is to get a text from your husband in the middle of your workday saying, “We just got word that there are two schools in town on lockdown and there are conflicting messages, but there could be an active shooter.”  It is to watch social media, and texts, and emails from the school all day for any word of updates about whether or not it was really a shooter.  It’s to hear they think that it’s just a hoax, but the buildings are still in lockdown.  It’s to realize that your kid is NOT at one of the buildings in question, but is in the district and not knowing if they are in lockdown or not, but knowing that she has such high anxiety that lockdown drills–which they have had to do since kindergarten–cause her full blown panic attacks.  It’s texting her the words, “Are you ok.  I love you.  Please text me as soon as you see this.”  It’s realizing that if they were at one of the other school buildings you could be sending the same words but under very different circumstances.  

It is sending a text to one of your dearest friends who has a child at the high school in lock down just to say I love you and I am here while you wait.  It is knowing she is a pediatrician and has treated half of the kids who are hiding under tables and in back rooms trying to stay quiet.

It’s to come home at the end of the day and feel so grateful that your kids came home alive and you get to hug them.  It looks like knowing that other parents haven’t been so lucky on other days at other schools.  

That’s what being a parent in the US in 2023 looks like.  It looks like terror.  It looks like not feeling safe to send your babies to the place that they should be the safest.  And it looks like your country, your fellow citizens, your politicians… not being able to give a damn enough or to figure out how to work together enough to even begin to find a solution.  

This is what it is to be a parent in 2023.  It’s also terrifying to be a child, or a teacher, a paraeducator, or an administrator.

It shouldn’t be this way in the country that we say is the greatest in the world, the freest in the world.  This doesn’t feel like freedom.  It feels like terror.

This is “just a Wednesday,” in a small town in the United States these days.  There were lockdowns other places today.  There was a mass shooting at University of Michigan this past weekend.  I attended an Active Shooting Training at my church last year and have been urged to attend another for the organization I volunteer with.  I spoke at a work meeting yesterday about how I learned to Run or Hide or Fight because we were thinking about how to be prepared for a potential shooting there too.

It’s all so commonplace.  Just a Wednesday.  

Just a Wednesday in the United States in 2023.


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