Today my first-grader climbed into the car and, before the van door slid shut, proudly announced: "Mom, today we had a lockdown."
She dug in her backpack for her snack without missing a beat. "Mom, do you know what lockdowns are for?" she asked in-between bites.
"Tell me," I say, remembering the kindergarten explanation she'd given me last year. Lockdowns are in case a big dog gets loose inside the school.
"Well, lockdowns are to keep us safe from humans who kill people."
I nearly drove off the road as she continued telling me where in her school they go and what they will do.
"Some humans kill people so we lock down and we have to be silent. Our teacher will just hold her finger in front of her lips so no one hears her telling us to be quiet. It's hard to be silent but we have to do it."
I let her talk and then her first-grade carpool buddy piped in: His class didn't have a lockdown today, but he's had them, too.
Of course, I say.
Neither 6-year-old is alarmed or afraid as they talk. They're just matter of fact. It's a sign of the world we live in, I suppose.
It's not the lockdown drills themselves that bother me. It's the "humans who kill people" part. Her own words and understanding I'm sure. Making sense of what's going on the best she can with what she knows, what she's heard, what her peers have to say.
Note that she didn't say, "to keep us safe from guns" or "to keep us safe from those with mental health problems."
She said "to keep us safe from humans who kill people."
It's as simple as that. We live in a world where we are teaching our 6-year-olds how to be safe from humans who kill people in schools. What does that say about our society?
Nearly every day I send my kids out into this world of schools, four different schools between five kids, places that should feel safe and where the biggest worries should be what's for lunch or did they get their homework down. But every day we pray they'll be kept safe from humans who kill people.