When I was in elementary school, we had fire drills and earthquake drills. When I was a teacher, we added in a “disaster drill” – something that required the school to be evacuated and emergency response teams to come in and so on.
Now, schools are preparing for direct attacks. Not accidents or an Act of God, but premeditated violence perpetrated on personnel and/or students. Here in my neighborhood, a young man with a firearm threatened a student (high school) and was stopped by a faculty member. And that was just across the street!
As I have thought about the horror inflicted upon Newtown and Sandy Hook Elementary, I cannot help but consider “What if?” What if my son were in such a situation? (My brain, sadly, takes a lot of trips down the Path of the Worst Thing Possible.)
My son, being who he is, is not the kind of child who does “drills” very well. In the event of an emergency, his likely response is to freak out, run away screaming, throw furniture. Getting him to hide quietly and safely? Not gonna happen. This is, frankly, frightening. His autism is characterized by incredibly high levels of anxiety just about the mundane – put him in a crisis and it’s a terrible thing to witness. He is also as contrary as the day is long and has been from infancy.
Needless to say, we haven’t discussed the tragedy of last week in our home. We don’t watch TV and we don’t get a newspaper, so it wasn’t even a topic that came up in front of him. I am prepared to discuss such events with him if the need arises, but right now? I confess to be avoiding it.
But I pray constantly for the families of those who cannot.