“Don’t worry, Mom, my school has a great lockdown plan. We have practiced.”
I wish these conversations didn’t happen but they do.
My twelve-year-old son was telling me that there had been a threat reported at his school. As a teacher myself, I know that this occurrence is common place. Yet, that familiar feeling swirled in the pit of my stomach.
“I usually get the space behind the door to block me or the very back of the room.”
He is rehearsing how not to die. Perhaps this is the opposite of rehearsing how to live.
My son wants to hear validation. He wants to hear praise for a job well done. Maybe I can be the best at not dying on any given day. A plan gives him security.
This sensitive child who made me a mom also unleashed a tidal wave of horrors and anxieties that this world has to offer. How do I protect him from the seeming threat of danger at every turn? Statistics would show there are not countless disasters looming in our future, but yet it feels like truth. It feels so very real.
Lockdowns and survival plans bounce around the walls of his malleable mind. The anxiety and fears that torment me are already buried deep in his porous head. I want to cover his heart and soul in an impermeable liner. Can I keep fears from contaminating and echoing like a megaphone through the alleyways of his brain? That brain I clearly recognize as my own.
How can I teach this curious human to stay soft in a world that constantly demands us to harden? Can he learn to lean into his fears without being consumed? Don’t deny the terror, my child, just soften your stance and absorb the blows.
We struggle to stay kind and compassionate while bobbing in a sea of destructive signals and paranoid screams through every media outlet. Can I teach him to silence that deafening call to fight and survive? Can I teach him, in the midst of it all, to choose love?
And harder still, how do I teach him that we must come to grips with uncertainty? His only hope for peace is to realize he must let go. There is no magic plan. He cannot control it all. We cannot live in a bubble. I have tried, sweet boy, trust me, I have tried.
I squeezed him extra tight this morning. I showered his forehead with kisses. I sent a text as soon as he boarded the bus. Maybe, just maybe, his mom’s voice will be the one he chooses to hear. Make it count. Fill someone’s bucket today. I’m so proud to be your mom. Hear these words and feel this truth. You are incredibly loved. Now, go out there and practice living rather than locking down.