I don’t know if this story will have an end. No story does, really, you just have to decide when to stop telling it.
There is no reason for a car to be in the lot before I pull in this morning. The way it’s parked haphazardly in the far corner of the lot has me suspicious and worried. The building manager assures me, there is no reason for anyone else to be here. And I sit, fuming and frightened, in the car. What are the intentions of the SUV driver. Is he still in the car? (The dangerous unknown is always a guy, it seems) Is he armed? Because, now, it seems any snowflake with a sense of entitlement can go buy a gun and take out his tiny, tiny rage on innocents.
After I call the police, I pocket my phone and get on with my Tuesday morning. I wipe down classroom surfaces because it’s flu season; I sweep and take out the trash and the recycling and glance at the parking lot. I can still see the White SUV in the early morning light. It was there when I pulled into the parking lot; the only other car in the lot parked crookedly in the far corner. It made me nervous and I can’t keep from looking to see if it’s still there. Is anyone getting out? Am I in danger?
I concentrate on my work and make the bottle of bleach solution, update the classroom calendar. A Police car has parked near the SUV, I see the officer approach it with caution. I hate that the unimaginable has become the new normal. Normal enough that I lead my 3 and 4 year olds in monthly Shelter-In-Place Drills because it’s vitally important for disgruntled and unbalanced people to have unrestricted access to weapons of mass destruction. And, as a result, teaching preschoolers to sit, in silence, has also become vitally important.
I organize the learning centers and tidy the classroom library. The Police Officer stands by the driver’s side window. I focus on organizing my lesson plans for the day. A second Police Car pulls up to join the first and I head down the hall to make a cup of tea. It’s only then I notice my hands are shaking.
It’s a Tuesday and I teach preschool.
I teach for a future when we can disagree and still work together. I teach for the future when we help one another get up when we fall, when we applaud cooperation and hard work. When we can both hear each other and listen–which are different. The future could be here now, it should be here now. We’ve had plenty of time and plenty of teachers.
The white SUV was no threat, it seems. But, it might have been. And too many other times and places, the threat was real. There is no place in my classroom for the rage and the injustice I feel at those who’ve purchased and designed this present where the unthinkable is commonplace.
All I can do is take a breath and another, force the fury and the fear to drain away and make room for strength and courage. These are my tools, today.
The Parking Lot is empty except for my own car; a co-worker’s car pulls into the lot.
It’s another school day.