Trigger warning: talk of school violence.
I share this story after yesterday’s piece because I’ve really had to work to process it, and one of the key points I didn’t fully understand until after leaving work early. The timing of events is the universe’s way of communicating about our focus and driving us toward what’s important. When we are on the right path, often things unfold for us that show us the way.
On Wednesday evening last week, we received a message from the superintendent of my son’s school that a threat had been made by a 22 year old local resident of our neighborhood. While the threat was vague enough and did not call out the school specifically, it was enough to get the guy arrested and charged with disorderly conduct—and to warrant notifying the parents because of proximity to the school and what the statement suggested. I spoke with one of the other mother’s because my initial reaction was this was like the other two incidents we had last year except those had come from kids and no one was arrested even though the police were involved. I didn’t get uneasy until she pointed out that this was an adult and his proximity to the school was very different than the last time. I still had to send my son to school on Thursday, and that was when the emotion hit.
I pulled up on Thursday morning slightly uneasy, a little nervous, but resolved that we were ok. Then the cops showed up. Now, I’m very grateful they were there (especially because the design of the school leaves safety to be desired in my mind) but that triggered me in a new way. The cops hadn’t shown up in the prior incidents—and why were they only outside the entrance for the little ones? Did this guy specifically call out the youngest kids? This was right after the anniversary of the Sandy Hook shootings—was the guy making comments about that? I don’t know—and I didn’t need to know because, while the caution was a good thing, it set me on edge. My son asked about the police presence and I told him they were there to make sure things went ok today—and to listen to anything they said. I told him to listen to anything his teacher said as well. I know he picked up on the fear as he asked what was wrong, but I told him everything will be ok.
That was the worst lie I have told as a parent. While I would never tell him the specifics about what was going on, I knew then and there that there is no control I had that would make this ok, that would guarantee my son’s safety. I fought tears driving away thinking that my son is only in kindergarten and this is the third incident at his school. I called my husband and he shared that he was glad the cops were there. I called my friend who was dropping her kid off as well and she let me know that she spoke with the police and, while they weren’t going to be there all day, they would be around. A little bit later she emailed the teacher asking to keep the kids inside during recess and the teacher replied that she would never let anything happen to the kids. That’s when I lost it. We’ve gotten to this place where educators are normalizing these threats and have to tell the parents they would protect these kids like that.
I immediately started spinning, not only thinking of what’s wrong with society, but about how to protect my kid, how to be closer to my kid, how to work near my kid so I can get to him faster—even if I had to homeschool him. I know it’s extreme and I know it’s not something I can do in this moment, but I couldn’t live with myself if I never saw him again. I couldn’t stand the idea that all parents are dropping their kids off at school and they don’t know if they will see them again. Did I hug him long enough? Did I give him enough kisses? Did I rush him out the door? Does he know what to do if there really is a situation that unfolds? I’ve been uneasy since he started school because of how far I am from him—honestly, even if he falls and bumps his head, it would take me almost an hour to get to him. I’m not comfortable with that any longer.
I started this piece talking about not understanding part of this event until after I got to leave work early. Here it is: our time and our family, (chosen, birthed, or otherwise) are our most valuable assets and the universe responds quickly when we get that level of clarity. I’ve been wanting to be home and work from home for a long time and the opportunity came on Friday—and it was glorious, further reaffirming that is the path I need to take. The incident was horrible and terrifying, but the universe will put us directly on the path we need in order to make us aware of our values in the most concreate way. For me, that is being more accessible for my family, being closer to my family, doing the things I love with my family. That means doing the work I love closer to my family. The universe knows what we vibrate at and it responds.
We will never be able to replicate the people we have in our lives and it is our responsibility to reasonably assure their safety. It is also our responsibility to get clear on what we can do to better align with what works for us. Mostly it is our responsibility to take care of each other. Reach out and check on people, reach out for help when you need it, communicate, find ways to do things you love and spend more time doing that, find ways to connect with others. While we have no control over the state of the world, we do have control how we respond to it and how we can prioritize what’s really important to us. Use the time we have wisely, love our people fiercely, get honest about what you need and follow that.