I was horrified by the idea that the school felt this kind of preparedness was necessary. It was different from the air-raid drills we practiced in elementary school during the Cold War. We hid under our desks on the theory that Russian bombs couldn't penetrate a rickety wooden table with an inkwell-hole in the corner. But in those years, the enemy was outside, some Soviet apparatchik in an ill-fitting suit. Today, the shooter is just as likely to be someone my kid knows, someone from the lunchroom or math class. Someone crouching next to him as he learns the code words for danger.
This week in Santee, California, the someone was a 15-year-old boy, a kid with friends and a smile on his face who sprayed bullets into his schoolmates, fatally wounding two of them. The boy's mother, who lives eight states away, who last spoke to him "earlier this year," says she never detected any real moodiness in her son. His friends heard his threats but thought he was kidding. But there is no such thing as a harmless teenage fantasy anymore.
It's a relief that today is a snow day, and school is out. A day off from worry, a day of innocence, of sipping hot chocolate and shoveling the walk. But inevitably, the kids will go back to school. Every morning when my son leaves for school, I squeeze his shoulder and wish him a great day. He's too big to hug and hates when I muss his hair. But I've just got to touch him, as if that touch could place some protective shield around his 6'3" frame.
He doesn't know it, but that squeeze is secretly a prayer. That he drive safely. That he not get hurt on the basketball court. And that some angry, outcast kid not gain access to a gun and take out his hurt and rage on his school. Every parent I know will be saying the same prayer of protection. Let the enemy pass by.