Saturday, December 15, 2012

yesterday's tragedy

Yesterday, when Billy called me to alert me about what had happened at an elementary sickened me.  I immediately felt hurt for all those who lost a child or witnessed such a terrible thing. Following those feelings, I just wanted to hug my kids...tight and for a long time. 

Billy told me to call the school and make sure they were on heightened alert to exercise any and ALL safety first I told him that I already knew our school was safe and was always locked down.  I have to be buzzed in, each time I visit.  But, I couldn't get the thought of losing a child out of my head, and since Blake was at school, I couldn't help but call.  When I called, our principal, Dr. Yerkes, answered, I told her who I was, she responded by thanking me for calling, she was already "sick" over the news and promised that they were doing everything possible to keep our children safe. She genuinely thanked me for being concerned and for calling and said to call ANYTIME, as they appreciate reminders, tips, etc. 

Billy wanted me to go pick Blake up, but I refused, I wanted this day to be normal for him...I knew how awful I felt and I didn't want that for him.  (this is unusual b/c it's normally the other way around, I am emotional and ready to go "save" my kid, yanking him out of school to bringing him home to feel safe, Billy is usually the calm, practical, level-headed one)

We asked Blake, when he got home, if they had ever talked about what to do if something like this happens and he said they had done drills and they all hid behind the teachers desk, between bookshelves and that is exactly what I wanted to hear. I was thinking that would be the safest place.

We got an email from the school just now that was full of very helpful information, here is a copy"


Dear Parents,
Yesterday’s events at Sandy Hook Elementary were horrific. We worked to insulate children from that shocking news, leaving you, their parents, to talk with your child/children as appropriate. There is no simple way to discuss such tragedy, but I felt this morning’s Post-Dispatch offered good advice.

  How to talk to children about tragedy Violent events in public places, particularly schools, can shake a child's sense of security. The National Association of School Psychologists offers these tips for talking to your children:
* Explain that their fears are understandable, but reassure them that schools are safe places.
* Keep kids away from television reports on the tragedy.
* Let children guide the conversation with their questions. Provide as much information as they seem to be seeking. Watch for hints that a child might want to talk, such as following a parent around. Some children will prefer to express their feelings through art projects, writing or playing music.
* Go over safety procedures at school and home. Talk about who kids should seek out if they feel scared or threatened.
* Watch for changes in behavior and eating and sleeping habits that might indicate a problem with a child's emotional health.
* Don't change the child's normal routine, helping them maintain their sense of structure and safety.
* Tell children it's OK to ask for help if they feel angry or depressed.

Know that the emotional responses you are experiencing to this tragedy are the same responses every PSE staff member feels. Daily we do everything in our power to protect our students. We diligently maintain and monitor our security measures at school, keeping all exterior doors locked, requiring visitors be admitted to the office by our front office staff, and maintaining an awareness of all visitors to the building at all times. Staff and volunteers in our classrooms have undergone background checks. Our building crisis plan includes a “lock down drill” where students and adults practice what to do if there is an intruder in the school. We want to ensure you that we are doing everything possible to keep your children safe at school.

We will be there for them on Monday and every day. Our counselors will be available and our caring community will support the individual needs of children and the safety of all. Please alert us if you have any questions or concerns and keep those Connecticut families in your hearts.
Deb Yerkes

We did tell Blake what had happened and why we were so sad.  He was sad too, we said a prayer together asking God to help them through this terrible tragedy and to also help them not lose faith at a time of such devastation.  Blake feels very comfortable using prayer to calm and comfort and that I am ever so thankful for.

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