Sunday, March 3, 2013

Second Grade, Birthday Parties and Lock Downs...

She's got things figured out!
Her name is Lauren and she is in second grade, with reddish-brown hair, huge blue eyes and just enough freckles on her nose to make her as adorable as she sounds. And on a recent weekend visit to help celebrate her eight birthday, my niece (actually great niece…but I have trouble saying that), had this to say when I asked her how school was going. “It’s okay, but I don’t like my lock down hiding spot. My feet will show and I could get killed”.

What? I expected her to say something like “It’s okay, but I don’t like math”! I stood starring at her as she then went on to tell me how she devised an additional escape plan around some boxes and into another class! She has thought this out.

At eight years old, she has recognized that her feet would give her spot away should a mad man come into her class with guns blazing and that she needed a plan B. I was speechless. She then, just as nonchalantly, asked, “can we play another game tonight after dinner? Last night was fun!”

Seriously? Is this what our young ones have to think about at school? It's as if studies, peer pressure, who to sit with at lunch, who to play with at recess, has been replaced with thoughts of “how can I save my own life in a crises situation?”

When I closed my eyes to sleep that night, what she said kept running through my mind. When I was her age, all I had to worry about was an atomic bomb dropping on my school where it was believed that the desk I was crouching under would protect me from the blast. But that type of attacked never happened so the drills just became a respite from classwork.

My niece knows that her drill is real. That the nightmare of what happened in Newtown is real. That the possibility that it could happen again is real. And while this eight year old is plotting her escape, congress is crouching under their desks in Washington hoping that the second amendment will save them from a nations angry fallout.

But I'll not get into the debate on gun control. Quite frankly, I'm astonished that a controversy even exists. It breaks my heart that lock down drills are not only required but absolutely necessary. Both of Lauren's parents are educators so they know full on the threats that lurk just outside of school walls...and in malls, and movie theaters and shopping centers on a Saturday morning.

But in lieu of the concerns that Lauren expressed to me, in every other way, she seems happy, bright and ready to take on the world. She is a girly girl who would rather have new shoes than a toy for her birthday. (Although she can easily be persuaded by the offer of a new American Girl doll by her Nonnie). Her reading skills impressed me and she held her own in board games that were mostly geared towards adults. When I read a clue about a sprawling structure in an Asian country, Lauren answered, "it's that wall in China JoJo". And she was right.

It may just be the Lauren's of the world who figure a way out of the mess past generations have created by the inability to amend laws that will then address everyone's rights. Especially those of young children who are now forced to hide behind book shelves and devise alternative ways to save their own lives. My niece has already figured that one out.


  1. Wow... as a mother of a first grader... wow! She is adorable tho :)

  2. I know Jess, I was so surprised when she said what she said. Wasn't expecting it at all. Sad what out kids are going through.