Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties Puts it in Perspective

So many women in their thirties (and twenties, and forties, and teens, and fifties, and on and on), are under quite a bit of stress. I am no exception, of course. Job. House. Money. Family. Future. I've spent a lot of the last few days fretting and distracting and fretting again, and I know I'm not the only one. To quote one my favorite books of all time, a lot of us are wearing some heavy, heavy boots.

Yesterday, in the middle of one of my classes, an announcement came over the intercom no teacher wants to hear. Ever.

'We are in a Code Red Lockdown. This is not a drill.'

Code Red was implemented after the shootings at Columbine, and involves locking doors, barricading them, and hiding under desks and tables until the armed intruder at the school is brought down by police. We have done drills for this before, as public schools always do, but this was no drill. Our lives were in danger.

I felt the blood fall to my feet as all twenty of my students and I went into action. We stacked desks against the doors. We covered the windows as best we could. We ducked under desks. We waited silently, listening for gunshots and the sound of our own heartbeats.

I think Stanley Kubrick must direct the films that go through our heads in times of crisis. Mine was not the film of the hero teacher who saves the lives of her students. I thought about L. I thought about the state of my personal files. I thought about how unfair life is.

One student sitting near me began to panic. She was breathing loudly and kept whispering, 'Oh God, oh God.'

'It's going to be okay,' I whispered back to her. 'We're safe. No one is getting in here.'

'I want my Dad,' she said, and all I could do was nod. I did, too.

About ten minutes into the lockdown, another announcement came. 'Teachers, check your email. Read the contents to your class.'

Like a soldier avoiding landmines, I tiptoed to my computer and read. There had been a shooting at a shopping center less than a block away. The suspect escaped, and he was armed. The police didn't believe he was on our campus, but they wanted us to remain in lockdown for the time being.

We breathed a collective sigh of relieve and remained on the ground. We whispered to each other about our families. One of my students taught me how to make a friendship bracelet. I called my kids my little angels and told them I would protect them. They laughed, which was the response I was hoping for.

All of this while crouched under desks; all of this in the dark. So many of us are sitting in such darkness.

An hour later, we were released. Everything was okay. The suspect had not been caught, but the school was safe. Time to go home and tell our families how much we love them.

And with that, a woman in her thirties gets a new perspective on life.

'It's going to be okay.'

It's going to be okay.


  1. Oh my goodness, I cannot imagine! A lesson in perspective, indeed! Glad you are safe and sound.

  2. Oh. This made me cry.

    I am glad you are OK, and that your students are OK.

    Heavy boots, indeed.


  3. Wow, this experience sure brings life into perspective! What a day.

  4. Fear felt, pounding heart, tears. So glad you are all ok and better for it.