Code Red Lock Down Drill (or when Hide and Seek becomes a survival strategy)


Yesterday, in the same San Bernardino Mountains where I spent many a begrudging youthful weekend with my family (we didn’t have high-speed interwebs back in the day), law enforcement officials had a cabin surrounded for a final standoff with an ex-LAPD officer – who had killed four people and wounded more.

Local schools were closed. On lockdown out of concern for safety.

(Interesting to note: ski resorts were still wide-open. Because nothing stops people determined to venture out into the frozen north, strap awkward slippery wood posts to their feet, and hurl themselves down an icy slope. Gravity! It’s a sport!)

Meanwhile, here in the Silicon Valley, Search and Destroy (in an unironic twist on their names) participated in a school wide lockdown drill. Parents were notified in advance:

On Tuesday morning we are holding a school wide lock down drill. We held a training with a SWAT team member from the Police Department in January as an update to the tragedy that happened in Connecticut.

Utilizing the new training information from our police department tour, we have made some changes to the facility to help safeguard the children here in the event some sort of lock down needed to occur. We will be holding a lock down drill this Tuesday, February 12 in the morning with all of the students, including early childhood classes.

The youngest children will be told that we are going to go hide and lock ourselves in, almost like a classroom hide and go seek. Younger students will also be given lollypops. These have been used in schools to quiet the younger students during lock down drills and it makes it a less stressful situation for them.

I read and re-read the email.

When I was a kid we had earthquake drills. I experienced a couple school lockdowns due to close-range fires in the hills surrounding my middle-school campus. Unpredictable acts of Mother Nature.

I even remember early elementary bomb drills as the Cold War came to a close. Because hiding under your 4-by-4 wooden desk with connected tiny person chair was going to protect us all from the ceiling tile that might be dislodged by the nuclear holocaust.

But now we live in a world where we need to play “hide in the classroom” with toddlers. Bribing them with lollipops in a bid to keep them quiet and hidden from a deranged madman.

The lollipops brought me back to our NICU days. Where sugared pluggie/pacifiers were proffered to the tiny inmates to help them cope with unpleasant procedures. I couldn’t help correlate sucky sweets to keep kids quiet with an environment of life and death.

(Sure does shine a new light upon the Lollipop Guild of Oz – met by Dorothy after the untimely death of the Wicked Witch of the East.)

How do you convey to a 2 year old, “We need to practice for something very bad that may happen. Something that should never happen to someone as innocent, tiny and perfect as you. And all we have to help is a little sweet sucker. I’m sorry child. I’m sorry for the world I’ve brought you into.”

This evening I asked the boys how their day was.

“We had gummies!” Search announced proudly.

“In Miss Cyan’s potty,” explained Destroy.

“Do you know why you were hiding behind the door?” I continued, attempting to prompt them to talk about the events. (And secretly being pleased I wouldn’t need to fund therapy sessions for my children regarding their terror of pressed flavored sugar.)

“Yeah,” replied Destroy nonchalantly. Then he noticed his reflection in the bedroom mirror. And licked it.

This reminded Search he’d come to find me in his quest for a big graham cracker.

I don’t think they quite get it yet. Here’s hoping they never do.


Filed under Current Events, School

5 Responses to Code Red Lock Down Drill (or when Hide and Seek becomes a survival strategy)

  1. Dee

    It’s a shame that we have to do these things.

  2. Joanne Hamann

    No kidding – they now want us to lock ourselves in the classroom each day – Hello? Elementary kids need to use the bathroom, etc. Any idea how many knocks on the door we’ll have in a given day? Craziness – and if someone wants to get us, they’ll find a way. But I will keep a separate stash of 4th grade suckers – like that would stop them from talking!

  3. We used to have those drills too and I thought the same thing about the desk/chair combos.
    One day in High School we had an actual earthquake. Decent size one too.
    A couple thoughts…
    1) There’s no warning about the quake so all kids sat there in the chair thinking (use your Spicoli voice) Woooah.
    2) The particular classroom I was in was actually a extra large room divided into 4 regular size classrooms by a super thick, heavy, plasticlikesubstance retractable wall. So they cold open the room up or shut-er-down. Well my seat happened to be against said wall and when the room starts a shakin, let’s just say said wall swings wildly and knocked my desk into the one in front of me and so on domino style.
    I miss high school.

  4. When I was teaching we had a couple of lock downs because an armed fugitive was in the area. This was at two separate schools in two different states.
    Sometimes I wonder if it’s really different or we are just better informed. I think both maybe.

  5. We were recently just re-trained/informed that getting OUT (active response) of the building is much more likely to save lives than hiding (passive response). Either way, it’s scary to think our preschoolers live in a world where this kind of drill is necessary!

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