Where the inside of my mind leaks onto the screen.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

In the Silence

They called this morning's scheduled activity a "lock down drill."  We've done them before, and this one was apparently scheduled in advance to happen today.  But even though the drill was routine, how could it really be the same?

This time we notified the students of the drill, explaining that the purpose was just to practice procedures.  We discusses the students' anxiety over potential threats.  Then we waited for the "LD mode" call to come over the intercom.

It really didn't seem much different to the students huddled quietly in the corner.  But as the adult to whom young lives have been entrusted, it didn't feel much like a drill to me.

It felt like a moment of silence.

Up to this point, I've been fairly successful at keeping the "what ifs" at bay.  While others posted on Facebook about hugging their children tighter, I remained carefully detached from anything that might stir genuine emotion.  I've avoided television news coverage and read only a few articles.  I've participated in this tragedy in only the barest of intellectual capacities, intentionally distancing myself from the despair.

I guess it's my coping mechanism.  Not to pretend that bad things don't happen -- they certainly do.  But to interpret them as though they happened in a fictional book to fictional characters.  To inspect and disect only in a sterile environment, free from connection.

But in a moment of silence with students in a corner, how could I remain detached?  How could I stave off the "what ifs"?  How could I not let my all-too-vivid imagination interpret the procedural jiggle of the classroom handle as the real deal?

I am a planner.  I have mentally planned for the eventual passing of both of my parents.  Funeral and financial plans have been mentally made and reviewed every so often in solitary moments in my car.  I've imagined the aftermath of Kirk's untimely death as well.  It's not that these events aren't painful to consider -- just that I feel more comfortable, more in control, knowing I at least have a plan.

I plan for other stuff, too.  If I ever was attacked in a dark alley, I have mentally formed a plan to scream.  The next time a large object attempts to fall on me, I have planned to get out of the way.  It turns out I have a shortage of self-preservation instincts, so I practice these things in my mind.  Based on life experience, I worry that if I haven't made these plans, I may think of these important steps a moment too late.

I know bad stuff exists in this world.  And the only way I can reconcile that is to plan for it.  I tried so hard to keep the realities of the school shooting from affecting me emotionally, because once that seed takes root, will I have to plan for that, too?

My friend Ben, a fellow University of Phoenix student, told me this past week that any bad guys would have to go through Mr. M first.  He says that in the event of an intruder, he would break the leg off a desk and wait by the door.  He's planning for it.

Is this a thing we plan for now?  I mean -- obviously it is -- we had a lock down drill.  But is it a thing so real that I plan for it?  Do I consider the scenarios?  Do I let my mind wander to the "what ifs"?  The "what if" someone came into my classroom?  The "what if" one of my own children was in there with me?  The "what if" I heard gunshots in the classroom across the hall -- the one labeled "Mrs. Casdorph"?

This is why I keep my thoughts and emotions so carefully separate.  Because this is not a world I can plan for.  This is not a world in which I can mentally live.

Please give me my emotional bubble back.  Because reality kind of sucks.