Did you know that the homicide rate in Seattle has something, like, frintupled this year? As in last year there were three homicides and this year you read about a new shooting every morning?
I don't think much about this. I don't think I live in a particularly dangerous part of town. But I do live in a big house in a secluded-ish (for the city, anyway) area, dead end street and all, and when Phillip goes on his business trips I admit to a small amount of paranoia.
Until today I thought the worst that had happened in my neighborhood, in the time I've lived here, are a couple of car burglaries. However! When I went to pick up Jack at school today a certain preschool dad was already there and ready to update me on the police blotter. Apparently a shooting had just happened in [Part Of Town Not Particularly Close To Us] and I responded with the appropriate, "ARE YOU KIDDING?" because SERIOUSLY, SEATTLE, WHAT IS UP?
But then! Then he tells me about a home invasion that 1) happened 500 feet away from his house where 2) the owner was fatally shot by the intruder 3) TWO DAYS AGO and how did I not know about this? Apparently there was a marijuana operation happening at this house? So it was not a random thing? BUT STILL OMG. Then he tells me that he and his neighbor have started keeping an eye out (on their PRIVATE ROAD) and calling police and the next sunny day they plan to open their garage doors and clean their rifles in plain view.
Perhaps he just told me that last part for dramatic effect. SHUDDER.
ANYWAY. He had time to tell me all this because the kids were not in the classroom. The Pre-K classroom is in a separate building from the main school, but it has giant windows and a glass door and you can see the whole room. The lights were off and the backpacks were still on hooks so we assumed that the preschoolers were doing stuff with the big kids in the main building. It's happened before. We just waited.
And I left Molly and Emma in the van, because I always leave them in the van when I run over to get Jack out of his class, and it's no biggie, and it's in a church parking lot with a fence and only one way in and out and while I USED to feel bad about leaving them in the car I don't anymore. Anyone who has to get a kid in and out of a car seat understands my dilemma, right? But really, it's NEVER been a problem and I've never taken more than a minute to get Jack.
But we were waiting quite a while and I needed to go get the girls. I marched off to the car, unloaded them, and right as I was walking back to the classroom to wait some more, one of the other parents yelled at me, "The school is in lockdown, we have to go to the front of the building."
I had no idea what he was talking about.
We all trooped to the front of the building where a very serious-looking principal carefully opened the front door and let us all in. And then we stood there while she made sure we weren't waiting for any other parents. I hissed at another school employee standing nearby - "what's going on?"
It was because of the shooting about 80 blocks away. All the local schools were in lockdown. AND NOBODY TOLD THE PRE-K PARENTS WAITING OUTSIDE TO PICK UP THEIR CHILDREN AT NOON. It wasn't until one of the waiting parents got annoyed and called the school office that we found out what was going on and what we were supposed to do.
Then the principal told us that she would call the pre-K teacher to let her know all the parents were here, and then she would lead us to the kids. I was thinking the kids were in the main building somewhere. BUT NO. The principal led us through the school and out the back way to... the Pre-K building! Where we'd already been standing for 10-15 minutes! Where my little girls had been hanging out in the car! Where my son had been hiding in a windowless bathroom singing the Hokey Pokey because a shooter on the loose might show up! GAAAHHH!!!
So you already know that I am not the type to go all indignant on people and even in the moment I was only momentarily frustrated by the lack of communication. The shooting felt pretty far away, this seemed to be an overly cautious reaction, and now we we ready to go home and eat lunch, no harm done.
But now that I am thinking about it a little more, the indignance is rising. I'm not sure what the plan is for the regular students, but clearly no one had thought about what to do when the pre-K parents picked up their kids. It surely wasn't a SURPRISE that we all showed up at noon. They do have all our contact information. I don't get it. I still don't feel like Molly and Emma and I were in any real danger, but would the process have been any different if there WAS real danger? I left my kids exposed, the parents were standing around like idiots, and then to herd us into the main school building and then back outside where we'd already been standing just makes no sense.
That said, Jack appears to be completely unaffected. Even uncurious, to a degree that sort of bugs me. Doesn't he have any questions about WHY all the kids were hanging out in the bathroom? But the teacher sang songs with them and they read books and apparently it was no biggie, Mom, chill out.
We had to do terrorist drills when I lived in Sicily. I vaguely remember hiding with my classmates in a central area of the school. And I remember one time when the sirens went off and I was late for band practice and running to school with my instrument... but that was during the first Gulf War and there were lots of weapons stored behind barbed wire (and a MOAT!) not too far away from my house and HELLO, AMERICAN MILITARY BASE. I am decidedly not a fan of lockdowns in small unremarkable Catholic schools.
Anyway. Writing this all out has made me twitchy AND I've wasted my lunch hour. Thirty seconds until EJ wakes up and starts barking for her lady's maid.