Modern parenting: high school threat edition

In February, Josh and I got to go to Barcelona.  My sister came to watch the kids, and we went off on our well-deserved holiday.  My sister was fabulous, sending updates and pictures and texts about harassing the teens, and I could relax knowing all was well.

Until I got an email from our 16 year old son’s high school, stating there’d been a “threat” and the school was on lockdown.

It was evening in Barcelona, but morning in Seattle.  The threat was detected during first period, and everyone was locked into their first period classrooms.  As time ticked away and the police searched the school for the threat, we waited half a world away for an update.  My sister had plans on going for a hike – instead, she waited at the house in case she had to go get the poor boy released from the school.  Time ticked, and I was getting annoyed that there was no update.  Josh texted the boy, who texted back he was fine.  The teacher ended up turning on “Star Trek: Into the Darkness”.  Eventually we got word that the school would be closed, students released one classroom at a time, escorted by officers off campus safely.

And just when I could breathe again, I got an email from Maura’s school, which is close to the high school, stating that they went on a form of lock down as well.  They have a policy that if the high school goes on lock down, so do they.


But all was well, it was a hoax, we were able to chat with our son through it all.   He wasn’t phased at all, and I tried to remember accounts of my high school days, where people would set fire to bathroom trash cans just to get out of class on a nice afternoon.

It was all behind us.

Then yesterday evening, I get an automated call from the school, telling us that there was a threat of a school shooting the next day scrawled in a bathroom.  My first thought was something like “Oh you have GOT to be f***ing kidding me!”.   The principal went on about how they were working with the police, would have extra security on campus, but school would go on the next day. If students didn’t want to come in that day, they would get an excused absence.

Dinner conversation was a bit like “So Sean…yeah…hear anything about the shooting threat?”

Sean “Yeah, a few friends texted me about it.  Some aren’t going to school tomorrow.”

“What about you?  What do you think?”

Shrugs as only a teenage boy can do.  “Eh, I’m going.”

Meanwhile, Miriam was all “No one’s going to mess with Sean – he’s tough.  Well…tough looking.  He’s actually a big teddy bear.”

Sean grinned and said “Yeah.”

I polled friends on Facebook – because that’s what a modern mom with anxiety issues does.  All my mom friends were all “Aw hell no he’s not going to school!”  My childless friend said “What does the boy want to do?”  Dammit voice of reason!  Which is what I actually needed to hear.  The mom in me was screaming “Keep him home!  Keep him safe!”, but the rational part of my brain was thinking “These are high school kids being stupid.  They have no clue what a scribble like that does to us parents.  The world is an inherently dangerous place, and there is no way to protect them from everything.  Bad things happen. And they have cops there right now.  Really, if anyone was planning anything, it wouldn’t be for today, not with all the extra security wandering about.  Besides, do you really need to pass along your anxiety of all things down to the boy who’s feeling okay about this?  Not really.”

So my son’s at school, and I’m at home, not fretting.  Much.  I’m slightly cursing modern parenting and the special anxieties it causes, definitely cursing flippant teens who think it’s hilarious to scrawl threats in bathrooms, and saying a prayer that today and the rest of the school year goes smoothly.

I’m also considering sending a case of wine to the staff room, because they could probably use it by now.