Thursday, March 27, 2008

What a Day

I know I've already blogged today, but too much that has happened not to write anything.

To start off, yesterday my son Eric had a track meet down at Riverton High. Hubby Charlie went down there and watched the boy run his 400 meter, etc. Meanwhile, I was stuck in traffic, running our baby girl over to her work, and then to The Aquarium in Sandy so she could get extra credit for Physics. On the way there we saw an accident. On the way back we saw the car being towed, with air bags blown up. . who knows what happened to the people in it. . . As we got closer to our neighborhood, in front of K-mart, there was another car being towed. It had obviously been burned. It looked like the gas tank had caught on fire. The only thing left un-charred was some clothing that was still in the trunk. The street was blocked off by 2 fire trucks, and some police cars. They were scraping up ash off of the street as they loaded the car up onto some sort of tow truck. It didn't look good. Seemed sort of ominous.

Later on, we dropped off our Laenabug at the school. She's heading off to California on her Choir Tour field trip. Field trip?! When I was in high school, we didn't go on field trips . . . unless you were on the basketball team or something. . . Maybe occasionally to a museum? Nah. Not in small town, mid-western America. Anyway, we dropped her off, me and her Dad, and her buddy Jordan, and her little brother Jeffy. She actually took homework with her. Such silliness. As if there would be one spare minute for that. Unless she wants to work on it at midnight in the hotel room. Ha. Name me one teen-age girl you know that would opt to do HOMEWORK when they could be chatting about boys or painting their toenails. It will not happen. They're taking buses this year, instead of flying. Less expensive. It's weird though, just dropping her off, to go down to LA, without me going along as a chaperon. . . Who knows what kind of shenanigans those kids are gonna pull. Sigh. Thankfully, the instructor/director is very specific and doesn't put up with a lot.

This morning started out normal. The kids went off to school. Eric's been going over early to get in some 'tech hours' for his Stage Tech class before the end of the quarter. Clint was scheduled to probably work his first day at Pizza Hut after school. . . I took Jeffy to preschool, in a driving blizzard, which of course subsided into a beautiful spring day around lunchtime when I had to pick him up. . He had made a vest out of paper for his art project, and actually wrote his name 'correctly' on the back of it, without any help. I thought sadly of the birthday party he went to on Tuesday. I had taken him over there, expecting him to cling to my leg, and ask me to stay, but he didn't. He was having so much fun, I'm not even sure if he noticed that I left. This, combined with Eric starting his first job last Friday. . . it's almost more than I can take. They're growing up fast. I stayed up last night and watched 'Sense and Sensibility' while I snuggled the baby. I cried my eyes out pretty much the whole time. And now Clint's working also. I don't know about all this. I'm not sure that I am ready for my kids to leave the nest. Sigh. Anyway, round about 2 this afternoon, there was a knock on the front door. I was headed out anyway to get the mail, and was pleasantly surprised to see our across-the-street neighbor, Julie, running down our sidewalk. Down, not up. I thought that was a little bit weird. But then she saw me, as I walked out toward the mailbox, and she came back. She was on her hot pink cell phone, finishing up a call.

"Have you heard about what's happening at the middle school?" she asked. "There's a lock-down situation."

This is not something you want to hear. We both have kids going to school over there, in seventh and 8th grade. I felt my throat tighten as I turned to face the mountains. Only one street separates our homes from the field behind the middle school. I whipped my head around to the right, but it felt like slow motion. We could see hundreds of kids, close to the houses, with their backpacks on, as if for some sort of bizarre fire drill. The last time this had happened, a few years ago, when Laena was in seventh grade, a 15 year old boy, in ninth, had taken his own life. It was very sad, and very hard to understand. I braced myself for whatever it was that Julie was going to tell me. She had a friend with an inside track, and was expecting a call. We walked closer to the street, so that we could see better. The phone rang, and after a few minutes of her talking, and me rifling through the mail, she was able to tell me. According to her friend, there had been a bomb scare. A couple of kids had threatened to detonate something from a remote location. A teacher had overheard. The adjacent elementary school was locked down too. No one could get in or out. There were police cars blocking all the entrances and exits. This was disconcerting, as we both have kids there as well.

At times like this everything comes into clear and present focus. You think of 2 things. Your family and getting them home. Nothing else matters. Priorities right themselves. Everything else shrinks into the background, into insignificance. If there has been a disagreement, you want to fix it immediately. You forget to breathe. Julie's friend had said that the big kids would be allowed to go to the church parking lot, across the street at some point, to be picked up there, or to walk home. A minute after hearing this, as we stood frozen in the street, we noticed the sea of adolescents begin to move southward, en masse, toward the church. Julie was back on the phone, going to pick up her kids, and her friends'. We breathed sighs of relief, but still on edge, we hurried off to call the elementary school, etc, and figure things out. I barely noticed my sister's wedding announcement, and a birthday card for Aleia as I walked back to the house. I'd been flipping through the mail for several minutes, but hadn't really noticed what was there. There was a prerecorded message when I called Aleia's school. We'd have to wait until 3:30, but then we could come pick up our kids if we drove around front of the school. We had to check in with police officers, and then wait in line. Perris, the girl whose kids I watch after school, was pretty shaken, poor thing. Sigh.

Well, after that things calmed down a little bit, aside from the swarm of cop cars still in our neighborhood, police dogs, helicopters circling, (apparently they still hadn't found the stupid kids who'd started the rumor, or tried to set this up), and news wagons over at the church.

Charlie felt like things were pretty well under control, so he kept in touch from the office.

I think, personally, that the authorities handled this pretty well. I do, however, believe that some things need to change in the public school system. If I was in charge, all the teachers would be required to take gun safely courses, and I'd want them to be packing heat, every minute, every day. Then, if some punk kid got out of line, there they would be to handle it. Charlie said he's not sure that'd be a good idea in a middle school. Some of the teachers might just snap. "I'm an effing what?!" "Is that a cell phone?!" He likes to joke around to try to lighten the mood. Yeah. Hilarious. Deep sigh. Anyway, I'm glad everything worked out okay. I haven't even wanted to watch the news to figure out what happened. I imagine we'll hear about it tomorrow. Right now I just wanna be home. With my babies.

I'm thinking private school. Or maybe one of those charter schools they've started up recently. . .

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