There have been plenty of school shootings in this country for me to have to process grief. Yet for a number of reasons Uvalde was the first one that really hit me close to home. Partly because I work in a school now and I imagined what would be going through my mind if I was in that scenario. I also know someone personally who lost a loved one in the massacre. Then there is the matter I actually live in Texas and well that’s a recipe for heartburn right there folks.
I still remember watching the news of Sandy Hook unfold. It gutted me. I couldn’t believe someone would do such an awful thing. Then there was the aftermath of the whole ordeal. By the time we, as a nation, began to heal from the process Parkland had taken place. It seems like these school shootings happen spread out just enough to let us start to heal before the next one. I doubt there is some pattern or conspiracy to it all I just think we never get enough time to get over these. Nor should we. We don’t need to be getting over school shootings. We shouldn’t be accepting them as a way of life. We dang sure shouldn’t be prepping teachers to fight a way they are not equipped to fight. Here we are once a gain mourning the lives of young people as our politicians debate the value of those lives against the value of a gun lobby.
When I set out to become a teacher I had my sights set on one of two paths. Eventually I wanted to either teach 3rd grade as a primary school teacher, or I wanted to become an English teacher at a high school. Now I work for a preschool I am a little more flexible, but for the most part that hasn’t waivered. The thought that there could come a day when I am faced with laying down my life to protect my children is a thought that wakes me up in the middle of the night. I have had nightmares over this recently and I don’t expect them to let up. I am just a preschool teacher at the moment. I can’t imagine what school teachers are going through right now. I have an idea but the terror they are facing as they prepare to head back to work must be unprecedented.
The other thing Uvalde taught us which concerns me is how you cannot predict where these things will happen. It keeps happening to the types of schools you would think would never face this nightmare. Yet here we are. I have lived most of my life in small towns. You choose to live in a small town because you believe it is safe. The myth of that safety is what gives many people comfort at night. It offers us peace of mind. Even if it’s just phony it still lets us sleep at night. Then things like this happen that shake us up. Now currently I live in one of the largest cities in the country, Dallas, Texas, so things are different for me at the moment. Still I work at a school in the suburbs and I expect that to be the direction I take my teaching career as I move forward. Thus I am here questioning yet again my own safety. Why would anyone shoot up a pre-K? I am sure we were asking similar questions after Sandy Hook. Who would shoot up a grade school? Why? What do you gain from it? Oh well you can’t think of it like that you have to accept it can happen and that is the scary part.
We learned another dark truth coming out of Uvalde that does have many in this nation frozen in fear. Police are useless in an active shooter situation. Uvalde isn’t the first school shooting we have reports of officers NOT going in to stop the carnage. Here again we go back to the gun discussion. Armed officers who are trained in active shooter situations are afraid to encounter a gunman with an assault riffle, how can we expect a teacher with next to no training confront that same gunman with little more than a handgun? The truth of the matter is we are likely to learn nothing of value from Uvalde other than to fear our own police which, frankly, many of us already do.
What I have learned from all of this is you can’t trust anyone to keep us safe. Lawmakers and gun manufacturers won’t step up, retailers won’t budge, teachers can’t, police won’t and here we sit afraid for our very lives with literally nothing we can do about it. That is the lesson we learned from this shooting at Robb Elementary school, we just have to face the reality we’re never going to be safe again.