Sunday, December 16, 2012

This is a drill

Door locked, windows covered, lights off, students behind heavy desks.  This is only a drill, but it is hard not to think about the what-ifs at a time like this.  What if I couldn't get to the door in time?  What if the room next door was breached, leaving only the unlockable interior door?  What if the shooter took aim at the flimsy walls of our portable classroom?  What it...?

Many of the students are giggling, their seventh-grade hormones reacting to the forced proximity of other students.  They whisper, boredom growing as the drill drags on.  But afterwards, it's clear that some of them were thinking about the implications of a lockdown drill.  Do you think this will ever happen for real?  How would we know to go into lockdown?  How would we know when it's safe to come out again?

The image from the Newtown, CT, shootings that most sticks in my mind is of a line of students being shepherded through the parking lot by their teachers.  Fear and anguish are manifest on the children's faces; this is something no child should have to experience ever, let alone in a place dedicated to their nurturing.  But what I look at more is their teachers' expressions: set, determined, unwavering.  They are focused on the students and their safety.

I recognize this, although my experience did not end with the sudden absence of colleagues and children.  But I remember September 11th and the drive to make sure the students in my charge were ok and taken care of and kept safe.  I try to imagine maintaining the same presence with the sound of gunfire and the more immediate fear of mortality.  I can only hope that this will remain a drill and only a drill.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Mom by any other name

It’s been ages since I posted here, but I can’t pass up a Blogging for LGBT Families Day.

“Can I ask you a question?” started the secretary at my school one day.  We’re on friendly terms and have a shared interest in languages, so I expected it to be in that realm.  “It’s personal,” she continued, “and I’ll understand if you don’t want to.”

Huh, I thought, but I tend to be open with people, so she proceeded.

“What do your kids call you and A.?”

I relaxed and smiled.  For me, that’s neither prying nor too personal.  People who have the opportunity to spend time around my kids with me will hear the answer plainly enough.

A. and I worried about this initially and decided to go with Mama and Mommy, figuring that E. would pick up on this and follow our lead.  The problem was that we had trouble remembering which name we’d assigned each other.  In fact, I have no memory of whether I was Mama or Mommy.

That didn’t seem to faze E., who came up with his own solution.  Initially, I was mamamamamama.  Or, more accurately, that was how he requested a nursing session.  As he added words, this evolved and we soon noticed a consistent pattern in how he referred to each of us.  A. was Mama, I Mimi.  We say that he took the name Mommy, divided it into its two syllables and doubled them.  Those names have stuck and become part of the family vocabulary.

When J. came along, the assumption was that he would simply follow the pattern E. established.  And to some extent that’s true.  “Do you want Mama or Mimi?” we’ll ask and he tells us who should bathe him or put him down for a nap.  But, as is his way, he has added his own personal touch and shortened our names.  A. is MAWM and I am MEEM (after a period of mum-mum, when I was synonymous with my breasts).  Yes, the caps are necessary, as he tends to yell for us while running full tilt through the house.

I remember going through an evolution in what I called my own parents.  Mommy-->Mom, Daddy-->Dad.  My youngest sister would pull out the classic Mu-u-ther.  The exact term didn't matter (though the tone of that last one did); the meaning was always clear.  And so it goes in our house.