Picking Up Your Child From Daycare On the Day of Yet Another School Shooting

I sit in the queue three cars back to pick up my son from daycare, and read the news story: Two dead, several injured, the shooter in critical condition after shooting himself, at a school in California, this morning.

The story has been developing all day, the main picture different every time I’ve checked this afternoon. Now, the photo is one of a father and daughter being reunited near the school sometime after, and I can picture the story that goes with that: The dad learning of the shooting, being terrified for his child’s safety, rushing through traffic to get to the school, and the incredible relief of seeing her, knowing she’s safe.

I’m now two cars back in the queue.

I think to the future, and imagine my own child and me in a scenario like this. I imagine getting the news there’s been a shooting at his school. I imagine the terrified calls and texts between Betsy and me as we rush to get to the school, not yet knowing if our child is okay. I imagine that eventually we learn he is, because I cannot let myself play out the alternative in my head.

I’m now one car back.

Before that day, though, a day I pray never comes, I imagine the day that all too likely will, the one where my child will have to go through his first “Active Shooter” drill at school. No doubt, his teacher will do everything they can to make the scenario as not scary as possible, but still, my son will have to imagine he is trying to hide or run from someone with a gun.

I wonder how I can have any sort relationship with some of my family after that day, family who is staunchly against any sort of reasonable gun control. Family who has resolutely told me they never want to discuss the issue with me again, because they have a right to “believe what they want.”

I’m now pulling into the one dedicated spot in front of my son’s daycare, and I am grateful it is an in-home one with no visible outdoor signage or indication of what it is, other than the street signs indicating the one spot is reserved during specific hours. Because, yes, I know, who would want to shoot up a daycare, but anymore, how can you know?

I think about the news of the day, and I find myself grateful that it’s only two kids dead, that the shooter had only a handgun, and not some sort of assault weapon.

I get out of the car, walk up the front steps, and I know I will hug my son extra hard when I see him in just a couple of moments. As I wait in the small foyer, I am confronted with this sign.

It’s always been there. I’ve noticed it before, but it looms a little larger today.

The door opens a little more quickly than usual, my son’s already bundled up and ready to go. I whisk him up in my arms. The daycare worker and I briefly chat about his day, and then we are out in the cold, and I am more than a little extra grateful for him today.

He is oblivious to anything different. He just wants his snack, which Daddy has forgotten.

He whines a little. I say I’m sorry for forgetting, but we’ll be home in a just a few minutes. I load him into his car seat, and we drive out back into the street.

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