Friday, December 21, 2012

Lock Down

He's buried in the fold of my arm, his head resting on my chest. I lean my cheek on the soft hair that sprouts in all directions off his head. He wants to go to surf camp next summer. He thinks all surfers have long hair so we haven't cut it since school started. It's longer than it's ever been and has an unruly mind of its own. He tells me about his day.

He's brought home a craft--an elf they made out of paper bags and art supplies. His, for some reason, bears the name Penguin. He's proud of it and can't wait to show his daddy. He didn't get a chance to read his book because the reading aid wasn't there. It was too cold for recess outside so they watched a short movie instead. In all my years of schooling in southern California, I don't know that it was ever too cold to skip recess. On rare occasions, it rained and we played Silent Ball or Head's Up 7-Up. I don't remember the rules. "Mommy," he says, "we did locker drill today!" It's almost an afterthought.

"What's locker drill?" I ask, honestly baffled for a few, brief moments.

"You know!" he almost giggles as if I'm being silly. "You did it when you were little." It starts to dawn on me, but I don't want to put words in his mouth or provide concepts he's not ready to understand.

"Well, tell me what it is," I ask as we snuggle there on my bed.

"It's where you practice hiding in case a bad guy comes in," he supplies as though this is the most normal thing in all the world.

I worry that he is going to piece everything together and be terrified of kindergarten. Because all we told him was that there was a bad guy in Connecticut who killed a lot of people and then shot himself. But Katherine came to school and told him that there was a bad guy in Connecticut who killed a bunch of kids and that's why the flag was halfway down. Now they're practicing hiding from bad guys so how long will it be before my six-year-old figures out that a mad man rampaged a school and massacred more than two dozen people?

I kiss his head and I think about how, when I was a kid, which really wasn't all that long ago, we had fire drills and we had earthquake drills and that was about it. I wasn't worried that a maniac would take out my entire class. That wasn't my reality.

But it is his.

"What was it like?"

"Well, we hid in the kitchen," he answers.

"Wait? What? You left your classroom and hid in the kitchen?" This doesn't seem like the most effective way to keep my kid safe.

"No, no. You're getting it all wrong. You're confused," he talks to me like I am the six-year-old. "The play kitchen in my classroom."

There is a section of their room that is divided off and has all kinds of imagination play toys--including a kitchen. You can't see this area from the front door. I guess it's as good a place as any to hide from a crazed gunman.

"Oh, I see," I reply.

"It was really squishy in there and we had to be very quiet. It was hard for us all to fit and Juan was sitting on top of me," he continues. Then, just as quickly as we began, he changes the subject.

And I go with it. Because I've had enough of this conversation for the time being.

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