It might have been the gray drizzle falling coupled with the cool morning air, that was surprising given the weather forecast I had watched the night before, that made things feel off. Whatever it was, as I drove my son to preschool, my mind drifted back to the horrific events that unfolded in Boston yesterday.
Then my mind wandered to the horror that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut a few months ago and how after dropping off one son at preschool, I was headed to volunteer at my other son’s kindergarten class. I started to think back to something my son’s teacher mentioned during a talk we had the other day about the teachers all locking their classrooms doors now, so they couldn’t be opened from the outside. The more I thought about all these things together, it made me really uneasy, but I knew I could not let evil win.
You see, I live in a town that is similar to Mayberry, but we all saw last December that even the Mayberrys are not immune from the violence and terror we have seen or have even come to accept in bigger cities.
Our school is quite secure and has its exterior doors locked and visitors must be buzzed in and checked in with their driver’s license etc. Well, as I pulled into the parking lot it was very lucky I saw a custodian exiting because when I walked up to the main doors and pressed the buzzer I noticed there was no one at the reception area. After a minute, I buzzed again and that was when had I not seen the custodian, I would have been very alarmed. I have never been to the school where the reception area was unattended. That was when I had a bad feeling that something was wrong. Finally, the woman who was in charge of guest reception emerged from the bathroom and apologized profusely. I felt better and signed in and walked to my child’s classroom.
When I went in the classroom the children were all seated on the brightly colored alphabet rug going over some things with their teacher. It’s so funny to hear the things these uninhibited children say. One little girl was all excited because she was going to get up and show her fellow classmates how she counts to 20 in French. She went through the numbers 1-20 in French and the other children repeated after her. When she was done, one of the little boys raised his hand and said that his sister takes French and he thinks she said the right words. The teacher agreed telling them that the little girl’s mom speaks fluent French. After she said this the classroom aide, turned to me and whispered, “Yes, but her pronunciation was off.” I could not help but chuckle to myself.
I was going to be helping in the Science center as the kids rotated through the various centers and helping with an Earth Day Poster. As the teacher was explaining what they would be putting on their poster, one of the sections was to draw a picture of something they could do in their neighborhood to make a difference. Many hands went up and one little girl said she could help her dad rake outside and clean up his mess. To which the teacher replied, “That’s good you can help you dad clean up his mess.”
As the kids got up and went to the different centers, the reading center was being attended by the teacher who was doing reading groups. I heard one of the boys tell her that the classroom aide says that when you fart it’s called passing gas. To which the teacher with the straightest face declared that was correct, and it was called passing gas. This and about a dozen similar funny comments from the mouths of babes made me just shake my head and chuckle to myself. Then as I was helping all these individual and beautiful children with their posters, teaching some how to easily draw a butterfly and knowing how it takes a village to raise a child and privileged to be able to help nurture these little minds, it came back. That terrible thought came back.
I thought about the unspeakable evil that was unleashed on children just a little older than the ones surrounding me. How they were probably doing very similar things as these children when evil entered. Children who should be thinking about Earth Day and making posters with their class, children whose greatest problem would be waiting for their turn to use a certain color crayon. Children who were no longer in school, no longer with their families, no longer in this life due to the deranged actions of a very disturbed young man. I was snapped quickly back to the present by the children asking me to look at their work or where they were to glue what and was thankful for that.
Thankful because when we live in a world where evil does not discriminate between the big cities and the Mayberrys of our world, we need to cherish our every moment and live life to the fullest. I was extremely blessed to be helping in my son’s class with his friends and classmates, listening to their laughter and helping them draw butterflies.
Looking down at the broken crayons that were once whole and new in September and are now broken and very used, I mentioned to one of the little girls that it looked like they needed some fresh new crayons. She agreed and then told me that the next table needs new pencils because people have been eating the erasers. A smile and a small laugh could not help but escape my lips and a silent prayer that broken crayons and eraserless pencils are the only problems these kids will need to deal with.