Yesterday was a strange day in my house. I was working from home when I got a text from my wife saying my youngest daughters school was in lock down and she was texting my wife. I scurried all the social medias to see if I could find anything out. But, it was a long time before I found anything, and you don’t know what you can trust. And then I got a text from my daughter. Asking if I heard anything, to which you have to do a couple things. You have to run the information thru your own filter. Do I know this to be true? Does she need to know? Those types of questions. So, I told her I knew police were already there, and that the teachers and police are trained to handle whatever is happening. I told her to stop worrying and just pay attention to what the teachers were doing and saying. She was locked in her class room for 3 hours. It ended up being a threat, which the police determined to be unsubstantiated, and the building was cleared. But, there is different damage done. Of course, all are happy with the way it is handled. But, that’s my little girl. I wondered how she would be, even though I already knew it. She wanted to come home. Part of me wanted her to tough it out, but part of me also wanted to hug her and make sure she was safe. She was begging me on text to come as soon as the lockdown was lifted. I ultimately decided to get her. Was it the best parenting decision, I don’t know, but all I knew is she was scared. And also, she’s 13 years old.
When I got to the school there were other parents there, all doing the same thing I was. All a little bit shaken by the whole thing. I know this is a new normal for schools, but this was the first time for my little girl, and also the first time for me. I asked her if she was ok, she said yes. I then tried to think of the best “Dad” thing I could say, but I just had never been thru something like that. I told her I wish she stayed at school, but also, that I never had to deal with anything like that at all, so, I don’t really know how I would have felt or what exactly is the right answer.
For lots of stuff I have learned there really is no right answer. She sensitive and a little scared, but it makes her a kind, very considerate soul. She’s extremely loyal to her tribe and so maybe being a little sensitive is a great thing. The point is, I don’t know, and I think that is important as a parent. Your kids need to know you aren’t God. They need to know that while you do have lots of experience and advice, that sometimes we are just guessing.
Then later in the day my youngest was invited to her cheer gym because they had done so well the weekend before at a competition in Atlantic City the team had a chance to get a bid to the Summit in Florida. For any new readers, the Summit is like the Olympics. You need to qualify for it, and it is sort of like the end of the season championship. They gathered around a tv and watched as a team as the names were put on the screen. When they saw their name they jumped up and down and screamed with excitement. They got Mickey ears from the gym and took a few photos. I was out picking up my oldest daughter from dance so I could not attend so my wife took videos and pictures and was sending them to me as I waited in the dance parking lot.
I could not smiling and thinking about the day she just had. I was so excited to give her a big hug and teach her something about the day and talk about how proud I was of her, but she was passed out in her bed by the time I got home. And I smiled again, because she was able to handle the highs and lows from a very strange day and she was sleeping soundly under my roof. As we all learned this week, nothing about life is promised and I was glad to just have one more night with all of us together. As parents we want to keep our kids in a bubble until they are old enough to on the own, but we know if we do that they will never be able to be on their own. They won’t know the highs and lows in life. They won’t grow. Seeing what she saw she might appreciate what she has just a little more. At least that is what I was telling myself when I dropped her off at school this morning. I wonder if she could sense my panic. I wonder if she felt I was talking too much, which my wife will tell you is a tell tale sign I am completely nervous about something.
Parenting is so easy for lots of the times. You just sort of guide them, help them avoid slamming into a wall or a table or falling down a set of stairs. And then, in an instant it is the hardest job in the world. Your instincts tell you “keep them close”, but you have to fight that and let them be out in this world. This world that is the same, most of the time, most of the people are just like you and me. Trying to make it another day where they can rest their heads under their own roof with their tribe.
Raising girls is the best job I have ever had. Yesterday was a bad day until it wasn’t. Times are scarier now than ever to us, but that’s because we are the ones responsible. We are the answer for them, which is horrifying. Do you think they know we are frauds at this whole parenting thing? I won’t tell if you won’t.
Life is fragile. Don’t forget to smile at your kids whenever you get the chance…Smiles don’t solve everything, but they are like grape Dimetapp medicine. It sort of works on lots and lots of pains our kids face. Start with a smile and figure the rest out later.