Thursday, January 21, 2010

sign of the times

When I was little and living in Ohio, we had two kinds of drills in school: fire drill and tornado drill. I assumed that every schoolkid was familiar with tornado drill, until we moved to Tennessee when I was in the second grade and kids looked at me funny when I asked how often they did tornado drills.

No tornado drills when we moved to New Jersey, either, but by then I was a slightly wiser fifth-grader.

Today, when I was kindergarten helper mom, I was introduced to a whole new type of drill: the intruder drill. The little ones were spared the full details of the circumstances under which such a drill might come in handy, but were instead told it was in case a dog got loose in the building and the police had to come in and catch it. When the start of the drill was announced, the kids knew to quietly put down what they were doing and quietly go to their "movie-style seats" (what you and I used to call indian-style) on the reading rug and quietly scooch towards the wall, so they couldn't be seen from the doorway, and then quietly sit as still as possible for the duration of the drill. Their teacher turned off the lights, locked the door and pulled down the shades.

We sat in the dark room for what seemed like an eternity. The kids were merely bored, but I must admit that my heart skipped a beat when one of the administrators rattled the doorknob to check that it was properly locked. I guess my mind was dwelling on the terrible situations that led to this drill in the first place.

I suppose these drills aren't really any different that the bomb drills my parents practiced growing up; it's just a different threat, albeit more of a domestic one. And I do remember tornado drills as being a fun change of pace from the humdrum school routine, as if anything Mother Nature can cook up is somehow less threatening. Haiti is yet another not-so-gentle reminder of the fallacy of that particular line of thinking.


  1. I well remember the bomb drills. Exactly what good they thought being hunched over in the hallway was in the event of a nuclear attack, I will never know.
    It did leave a mental scar.
    Hope none of this ever comes to pass.

  2. Unfortunate that we need drills like these. The kids in my schools seem to be taking it in stride, but it can give me plenty of nightmares if I dwell on it too much!

  3. At my kids school they told them it was a wild raccoon. When Alex was in kindergarten she told me that her male gym teacher made them all go hide in the equipment closet, turned out the lights, locked the door and then stood over them (he's 6'6") - at first I freaked out - then fortunately found out from our 7th grade neighbor that it was an intruder drill!