Parenting: Kindergarten Lock-down

September, 2013

On the way home from school yesterday, my five-year-old told me that the next day would include a “Lock Down Drill.”

“They are going to wock the doors and we have to hide and then Mr. A— is going to come and pretend he is a bad person and try to open all the doors. Wike someone who wants to steal our toys and games.”

I include his substitution of “W’s” for initial “L’s” because I want you to hear his sweet little voice. His sweet little voice saying, “We have to practice hiding while our principal pretends to be a crazed maniac with semi-automatic weapons, hell-bent on slaughtering children in their neighborhood elementary school.”

Yesterday as we worked on FJ’s homework with him at the dinner table, we remarked that we don’t remember having homework in Kindergarten. Pete said, “And I don’t think it inhibited our ability to become geniuses.” I’m not sure. Not about the genius part (we neither of us are, and that’s OK), but about the existence of Kindergarten homework in my past. My dim, foggy past. I don’t remember bringing home three-page, two-sided worksheets once a week when I was five, but I don’t remember a lot from when I was five.

I am pretty damn sure, however, that I didn’t have to submit to anything like a “Lock Down Drill.” I remember fire drills, where we all proceeded in lines out the door and into the playground across the street, divided by boys and girls. I vividly remember one girl in my line telling me I was in the wrong line. “I’m a girl,” I said. Yeah, that really sticks with me, but it wasn’t Kindergarten. More like third grade, perhaps. We worried about fire. Fire or tornadoes or other natural disasters. Not heavily-armed, demented vigilantes entering our schools and firing at will.

As Finn told me about the logistics of the drill, I felt a combination of anger and sadness threatening to manifest itself in tears as we walked the few short blocks home, but I didn’t want him to see that. I just told him that he needed to listen to what his teachers said and be sure that he did exactly what they told him to do.

After dinner, I related this to Pete, and FJ repeated his explanation of the drill. When he got to the part about his principal pretending to be someone else, I welled up. I managed to keep it from becoming a full-on weep, but I said to Pete, “I know it’s not necessarily the most rational response, but this makes me want to rail and rampage against the NRA.”

“You should,” Pete said.

“Yeah, mama. You should,” said FJ.


  1. naturalcynic says

    If you have a five year old, you must not be old enough to remember the atomic bomb drills we had most of my elementary school years. When the siren went off all of us were supposed to get under our desks in a fetal position until the all-clear signal. Then when we discovered our smarty pants skills it was get under the desk and kiss your ass goodbye.

    • says

      I was born in 1970, and even during the rather tense times of the early ’80’s, when I was in junior high, we never had those drills in school. It was definitely a fear of my early teen years, helped along by TV movies like “The Day After.”

    • Deacon Phreaque says

      Yeah, I turned 10 in 1976 and remember the atomic bomb drills. When I saw the film “Hiroshima” 5 years later, I remember thinking “how in the hell is hiding under my desk going to save me?”

  2. sonofrojblake says

    In the UK it was something called “Threads”.

    I find it amazing in retrospect that popular culture in the 80s seemed focused on preparing people for the inevitability of global thermonuclear war. Films, TV shows, comics, even pop songs – one of the most popular songs of my youth in the UK was “Two Tribes”. It wasn’t a question of if the Bomb was going to drop, only when (and why). We never had “duck and cover” drills in school though – the likes of the clip above had ensured we knew there was no point doing anything, because the lucky ones would be the ones who didn’t survive the initial attack.

  3. anat says

    I grew up in Israel. We practiced going downstairs to the bomb shelter in the school basement. There were actual wars in my lifetime when such shelters were used. It was worse in the far north, where rocket attacks were a common event. More recently such attacks are more common in the south. And in between we had sealed rooms, in case of attacks with chemical weapons (fortunately never actualized). Current construction standards require that every apartment have access to a room of reinforced concrete and which is designed to be hermetically sealed – protection from both explosives and chemical weapons.

    Oddly, we never practiced for things like fire or earthquakes. I’m guessing fire is less of a risk when buildings are made of concrete rather than wood. I had experienced several earthquakes in Israel, but TMK there has been very little damage from them since modern construction codes were put in place.

    And I have to remind myself that the Palestinians have it a lot worse, because of my people.