It was the dinner hour one day last week in the Wilson home, and our 8 year old daughter seemed particularly bouncy. As we attempted to settle in, it became apparent why she had a little extra energy running through her body. She passionately began to share that during school that day, her class had participated in a “code red drill”. My mind flashed back to early elementary school days when my school had fire drills and a couple of real live “bomb scare” evacuations of the school. Unsettling. Something about our precious 8 year old describing how all of the children in her class had to take cover in a place that would put them out of the line of sight (code word for fire) of anyone peering through the glass window of their classroom door made my heart sink. Corners, under tables, all bunched together. I could not fully let my mind’s eye go to a scene where this drill could become reality, though it doesn’t take a lot of imagination as I interact with the daily news.
As if their hearts needed to redirect after such sober matters, they moved onto lighter topics. Suddenly we were discussing what would each of our daughters do if a boy wanted to marry them. Their dad puffed out his chest a bit and said something to the effect of “bring them to me”. This led into discussion of the different girl friends and boy friends dad and mom had in the past – lots of kissing questions ensued. And then our talk jumped back to what to do if someone wanted to marry one of them and they did not want to do so. I suggested that if this happened, they should dial up a “code red” and 4 men over 6 feet tall would come running – one of the many gifts and advantages of having 3 grown, tall brothers and a daddy.
On Monday, I was responding to a summons to appear at our county courthouse for jury duty. My name had been called and I was sitting in a courtroom with 36 of my peers waiting to see who would be called to serve. In this setting, I lived my own “code red” moments. A text came in to a mom seated next to me reporting that several area schools had been placed on lock down, my children’s school among them. The far-fetched code red drill of dinner conversation seemed to be happening and I was truly grateful that they had practiced. To add to the stress of the moment, the babysitter that I had arranged to pick up my girls after school texted to say that her high school was on lock down and she wasn’t sure she could pick up our girls. You can’t just get up and walk out of jury duty – a contempt of court charge will likely follow. My husband was not reachable. Several deep breaths and a 15 minute break later, contingency plans had been made, friends filled in gaps, a vice principal explained that the girls’ school was taking precautions but the students were not on full code red procedures. The lock down situation did resolve, our girls came home and reported at dinner they had another code red “drill”- thank you awesome school staff for protecting young hearts and minds- and all was ok in our little world. On that day, I was not forced to explain that an ex-husband had shot his ex-wife in a nearby parking lot and been hunted for four hours until he was found dead, of suicide. But I do pray for God’s grace and care on the three newly orphaned children and their family members who are left behind to deal with a big code red situation. God have mercy.