“What do you do if a bad guy comes to your school with a gun?”
Welcome to the worst question I’ve ever had to ask Elijah and Luca. A sick and lost kid opened fire in Florida and killed 17 of his classmates and teachers. This, coming out of the deadliest year for mass shootings in America.
Oh, it could never happen in Evanston. We’re too liberal. We’ve got good parents. We’re an anti-gun community. Our kids are smart and healthy and have good support.
And yet, I had to ask.
I knew their school runs “Code Red” drills, which is so sad I can barely keep from barfing. But I wondered if the boys gave the subject any more thought than putting a book on their head during a tornado drill.
“I would run,” Luca said, “We have a door to the outside in our room.” I explained that running wasn’t always the best answer. He should listen to his teacher and do whatever he said. Sometimes hiding is better. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be debating active shooter strategies with my 8 year old.
Luca nodded with eyes that said, “I am going to run.”
Eli said they have a whole plan. Lock the door, hide, get in the closet if you can.
Luca said, “I am going to run.”
Eli looked genuinely hurt. “I’m on the third floor. You would just leave me and run?” And my heart broke again for the umpteenth time.
The night of the shooting, I sat in shock like most of America, unable to turn off the cable news. Eli came in and sat with me. We watched in silence as pundits tried to find blame, as the same clips of children racing on the sidewalk with their hands raised played over and over.
I wondered if this was bad parenting. Shouldn’t I be protecting my little boy from this kind of reality? Should I be building a Disney Star Wars utopia for him to live in? Shielded from the horror of, well, life?
Eli simply said, “This is sad.”
I said, “Yep. Let’s go read books.”
And then we read comics and talked about zits.