Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Phone Call You Don't Want

Me: Hello?
Dan: Are you watching the news?
Me: No. Why?
Dan: Turn on the news. But I'm safe. There are bombs...I have to go.
Me: What? Bombs? What?
Dan: I'm safe. But I have to go. (Hangs up abruptly.)

So I turned on the news, where the lead story was this:

Bottle Bombs Go Off at Maryland High School

I'm not allowed to talk about this, as it affects my husband's job. But let me just say that any phone call from your significant other that includes the words "There are bombs" will stop you dead in your tracks. Take my word. Don't find out for yourself.

This news clip, however, fails to truly communicate exactly how uncertain and frightening this scenario was for the better part of three hours today for the students, the faculty, and the parents. I cannot tell the story that my husband told me in any kind of a forum as public as a blog, even one as little-read as this one is.

But let me just say this: parents, teachers are smart and well-trained and even more than that, they love and care deeply for your child and they will do anything that it takes to protect them. My husband teaches 9th grade English. He is a hero to me and has been since the day I met him. Today he became a hero to a classroom full of frightened kids, and I'm sure that he would be embarassed to hear me say this, but parents, you can send your kids to school and know that they are as safe there as they can possibly be anywhere. I learned something I didn't know about teachers, or even about my husband, today.

I would love to tell you what happened in his classroom today, but out of respect for him and his career, I won't do it here. But I am so proud of him, proud that he is all heart and guts and brains, proud that he chose teaching and that he loves it, proud that he did his job today and did it so well, and additionally I am relieved that nobody was hurt, and I am so sorry for Dan that he knew the kids involved and liked and respected them, and that he is feeling disappointed and let down by them, and angry about the media coverage that this incident incurred. I'd love to tell you this story, but it's not mine to tell.

Edited: Okay, I have to say this one other thing. If you follow the news link in this story, you will see photos of parents attempting to break through a fence to get to their children. Look, I get it. I am a mother. I would stand between my child and a freight train if I needed to. But what every teacher I've talked to who was there yesterday has said this: everything was fine, everything was under control, every child knew what they were expected to do and they did exactly what they were supposed to do, every person was accounted for and safe, until parents showed up on the scene and violated security. And then there was chaos. Then nobody knew what was happening. I am appalled by the irresponsible, disrespectful, and attention-seeking behavior of these adults. There were proceedures set in place for parents to sign for their children. The proceedures worked well, until certain people decided that they shouldn't have to follow them.

My experience has been that this is far too often the case. I don't ever want to be that parent, the parent that takes an unfortunate but under-control situation and turns it upside down for everyone. The most frightening thing about yesterday, as it turned out, wasn't that bombs went off. It was that the mob mentality of supposedly responsible adults made a bad situation infinitely worse. I could not be more proud of my husband and his students. I could not be more disappointed in their parents.

And one more note: I want to make it clear that these are my opinions, not Dan's. If he has feelings on the subject or feels compelled to talk about what happened yesterday, I'm sure he will do so. But I don't work for Friendly High School or the Prince George's County Public Schools, and my opinions are not necessarily shared by anyone who does.


Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah said...

I'm glad he is okay.

Treen said...

Oh my God I can't even imagine. Adrenaline went shooting through my entire body when I started reading and I was shaking. I'm glad that he (and everybody else) is ok.

merseydotes said...

WOW. I am glad Dan is okay.

My mom is a teacher, and she would do anything for her students.

Candy said...

My husband teaches high school as well, and I have to say, he and Dan would be working shoulder to shoulder for those kids.

More parents need to know that. Thanks for getting the word out.