December 15, 2015

I missed taking our son Theo in to school this morning. I did start walking in with him but as we walked down the street, two neighbors yelled out to us that all Los Angeles Unified School District schools were on lockdown today.

I hadn’t received a phone message from the school district so I was a bit skeptical. Theo was ecstatic and was turning to make his way home, but I made him continue with me to the end of the street, at which point it became clear that no one else was making their way to school. I looked up the street towards the schoolyard. It was deserted. “See!” said Theo victoriously and we both turned and trudged back up the street to the house, me far more heavily than Theo.

When we got back home, I turned on the news and learned that there was a “credible threat” of a bomb or gun violence at a school somewhere in Los Angeles, so all the schools had been closed down for the day – an unprecedented action in a district of something like 700,000 students. My feelings were complex as I sat down on the couch with Theo to figure out what to do with our day. I had a full day of work planned so I was panicking inside about how I was going to make two imminent article deadlines and write a blog with Theo at home with me. I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it unless I stuck him in front of the tv all day, which I am not prepared to do. That was what I will call my “micro panic.” It was easier to let this panic take over me than to give in to my greater fears – my “macro panic” – ie. if people are threatening to bomb schools now, how I will ever feel all right dropping my son off at school again? This is almost too horrific a thought to hold in one’s mind. The world seems particularly off kilter at the moment with millions of refugees fleeing across continents, terrorism and racist rhetoric appearing front and center in our news, and gun violence out of the control in the United States. All of this makes me worry a little less about climate change, though, as that may not be an issue for the human race if we continue to find other ways to destroy each other. Some days it’s all just too much to contemplate.

So I persuaded myself instead to focus on gratitude towards the LAUSD for exercising an abundance of caution, closing the schools and keeping kids safe today, even if it meant that I had to give in to my micro panic. Right now Theo was safe at home, and if I allowed him to watch a little tv and encouraged him to read and do a little homework, maybe I could get some writing done and then we could try to enjoy the rest of our day together. This plan mostly worked, though I have still have to submit those two articles.

As for my Giveaway, I missed taking Theo to school today so this evening, I took some of his old school textbooks and math practice books to the Little Free Library beside Theo’s school gate. The children had attached orange paper tags to the chain gate inscribed with all the things they are grateful for in their school – their friends, their teachers, learning to read and being able to play. I stood for a moment in front of the gate gazing beyond the paper tags into the dark, empty school yard, and my heart tightened with the sad knowledge that I will feel a little less happy to drop my son off at school tomorrow.


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