As I was driving towards John Muir School to pick up my 5 year old at the end of the day yesterday, I noticed we were behind a news van. There was a helicopter circling overhead. In the two minutes it took me to park, I saw three police cars and a deserted school yard. The school buses were not there and the gates for their arrival were locked. My daughter’s bicycle, that she had ridden to school yesterday morning and we had forgotten to take home, sat quietly isolated on the dirt playground, her purple handlebar streamers flying in the wind. Something was very wrong. I frantically took my two younger girls out of the car and asked the nearest policeman what was going on.
|Suspect in custody
All I wanted to do was to run in and grab my girl, scoop her up in my arms and take her home with me where she'd be safe. But she was 100 yds away from me, in a room with its blinds drawn and doors shut tight. And I had my other two children with me. We went back to the car. For the next 30 minutes, I tried to explain to my 3 year old what a gun was, why it was dangerous and why we couldn't be with her big sister. All while trying to hold myself together. Talk about difficult conversations.
In the end, the lockdown was lifted at 4:15pm. The man was taken into custody. It appears that some students on the playground saw him pointing a rifle at them from a house that bordered the schoolyard. My daughter's teacher didn't tell her much and she was relatively fine upon pick-up but there were a lot of questions that night. The last thing she said to me before falling asleep was, "Why do guns exist if they can hurt people?" And the humorous part in all this, if there can be one, is that my 3 year old kept referring to the "goon shutter" (gun shooter) and my 5 year old kept referring to either the "drop down" or "duck lock" (lockdown).
I write this dramatic account in an attempt to share a very horrendous personal experience but also to remind us that the increase in school shootings and gun issues, as well as the myriad of related topics such as mental illness and drug abuse, affects us all. It feels like it becomes increasingly more personal each time, but this was closer than ever. I urge everyone to keep this in mind when those petitions come around, when it's time to vote or when a rally is held. Don't let opportunities to create change pass you by because it hasn't yet affected you personally or you feel like you have no power. It's enough already and I am going to re-vamp my own efforts to figure out ways to make my voice heard. If I don't, I am not doing my duty as a parent to try as hard as I can to make this world safe for my children.