I knew I was having an emotional day when I randomly got tears in my eyes because the Sandy Hook tragedy randomly came to mind. It made me drive faster toward my daughter's school, where I was scheduled to volunteer. Of course I didn't think there was anything wrong there, I just wanted to be close to her.
By the time I got to the school I was already in high spirits again and had forgotten all about my earlier near-crying jag (and no, I'm not PMSing). We read the social studies newspaper, spent some time reading, practiced writing our 'how-to' books for a bit, and even had surprise readers for reading month (and it was my mom and dad - yay!!). All the kids were even reasonably well behaved, besides the fact that most of them have the listening skills of five- and six-year-olds ;)
My next break down of the day was scheduled for the teacher's recap of the rest of their day. She held up a little sign from the information board at the front of the room that said, 'Code Red.' She asked all the kids if they remembered what Code Red was. After some prompting, they were nodding and agreeing that Code Red is like a stop sign - you stop what you're doing and follow the teacher's directions while listening carefully. She talked about how the safe place they'd hide in if they were in their classroom was their bathroom. In reviewing the calendar, she said this afternoon's Code Red drill could be when they were in the art room. If that was the case, they should quietly follow the art teacher's instructions. A Code Red, she said, would probably mean something like an animal was loose in the building. These adorable kindergarten students pictured a wild tiger, or an alligator, or maybe a dinosaur. I knew the reason we had this drill was an entirely different sort of animal.
Most of the kids walked away from the schedule review and didn't give it another thought. One little girl kept asking me for my additional half hour or so there about the animal. She was very worried. I promised her that the drills you know about in advance aren't anything to worry about. She just needed to be very quiet and follow directions, and the alligator wouldn't find them.
I'm in tears again wondering about the last moments for those poor children who didn't have time to hide from the alligator. It's a scary, scary world we send our kids into. But our job is to make sure they don't know how scary it can be, and encourage them to see all the beautiful, wonderful things that are still there to enjoy.