Today I’ve been very thoughtful. Sitting in a makeshift tornado shelter with more than fifteen children under the age of six will do that to you. I won’t pretend that I have a worse or different story than anyone – Lord knows the weather in the Midwest has done enough without my making light of it. I was fine. The children were fine. But, for a while there, we didn’t really know what was going on today, other than there were tornado sirens and talk of several touch downs in our area. We do tornado drills several times a year, but nothing quite prepares you for the real deal.
Aside from having no cell service or internet access, and therefore no way of knowing what was going on outside those walls, I think the most scary thing was that I tell my students daily that it’s my job to keep them safe. What if, on the second to last day of school, I could not come through on a promise that I’d been making all year long? I mean, really? I ask my little ones all the time, “what’s Miss Kate’s job?” and inevitably, they will say, “to keep me safe.” Not, “to read to me,” or “to wipe my nose,” or even, “to build giant Lego towers with me.” All of which I do on a daily basis. These kids know that above all, it’s my job to keep them safe.
At noon today, I wondered several things. Fresh off the media frenzy surrounding the Joplin, Missouri tornadoes, I wondered if we’d all be blown away. I wondered if my husband would actually heed warning and go to the underground parking garage like his employer insisted or keep sitting at his desk avoiding the “Stromboli” that was headed his way (his damn autocorrect made for the funniest part of the day). I wondered why little Zoe thought what we were doing was hilarious, and I wondered if my Lucy was safe (though, that was a thought I kept pushing back. I honestly couldn’t even bear to think about it while we sat there). I wondered mostly, though, if I was going to be able to keep my word to eight children who have trusted me all year long.
I got to Lucy’s school today for her Grand Spectacle (her fabulous kindergarten show!) and when I saw her teacher I thanked her repeatedly. She gave me a weird look, but after what I’d been through, I just wanted her to know that I appreciated her help in keeping Lucy safe, even if it was just second nature to her. We place our kids in someone else’s care every single day without ever thinking that something catastrophic could really happen. I’m so glad it didn’t happen today, and I hope to never have that experience again. I’m way better at keeping snails from crawling out of their jars, or getting playdough out of the couch, or just wiping noses.