Mary Beth Writes

 This was a small but telling moment in America this morning.

I volunteer at an elementary school a half hour walk from my house. I go twice each week to listen to individual 3rd graders who could use a nice grown-up listening, slowing them down, asking them what they just read, smiling at them for all the things they do right and words they pronounce correctly. We go to the school’s library, they pick where we will sit (red chairs, or blue, or yellow...) and I sit next to them on a very small chair. I ask questions, they tell me what they think they just read. I have been in fascinating conversations about George Washington, tigers, and what it’s like to eat oysters.  It’s a challenge to tell a kid what oysters look like if you prefer to not say snot.  (Older volunteers have high linguistic standards…) I said tan jelly.

This is more fun than kittens in hats.

Today, while sitting with a skinny little kid who LOVES basketball but was, I could sense, getting a little bored with the talking tree (so was I) – the fire alarm went off.

It was on the wall right over our heads and BOY was it loud.

My kid jumped up and headed straight for a back door in the library I had never noticed. Another volunteer stood up and followed his two little girls. The kids knew exactly where to go and what to do – back of the playground, stand in a line with the rest of your class. All the teachers had red “Emergency” knapsacks on their backs (are they hanging by the doors? I had never noticed them before) and were beginning to count the kids from their classes. When they had the correct amount, they held a sign that signified that. The principal was watching; this drill was accomplished in under 4 minutes.

We skedaddled back inside.

Here’s the thing. Because it had been raining this morning, I drove instead of walked. Because I had my entire purse with me, I plopped it in the back of the car and walked into the school without ID or phone.  While we were hurrying out of the building I didn’t know if this was a fire alarm or something else – would they sound the alarm if there was a shooter?  And then I freaked a little, quietly, inside myself, as I realized I didn’t even have my damn phone. 

Whatever would happen, I wouldn’t be able to document anything. If I needed to call someone, I couldn’t. 

And that was my “small but telling moment in America this morning.” 

If you are going into a school, you should take your phone.

This is nuts.

Comments

Oh wow. Gave me the shivers a little. Oh man ——- our children are living with these times. Sure wasn’t like when we grew up. Bless them all
Mary Beth's picture

Back then the NRA was an organization that promoted marksmanship and hunting skills.

Sadly, this IS the new reality that children in schools and others elsewhere face and it doesn't need to be this way. We need to wean legislatures off the NRA and repeal citizen's united so The Mighty Dollar doesn't cloud the judgement of those that should be making laws that protect us and not the gun lobby. Sensible gun legislation does not mean taking away guns from law abiding citizens - it means eliminating military style weapons that should only be in the hands of the military or law enforcement; increasing background checks on ALL gun and ammunition purchases and universal gun registration. More guns means more opportunity for guns to get into the hands of those that should not have them. There are real solutions to the "gun problem" in America if only those with the power to make real change have the courage to do so.

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Quarantine Diary #15 3/28/2020

The Long-Awaited Groceries (The hymn “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus” is in my brain right now) came last night at 9PM – when it was raining. A woman named Sarah, late 30’s, brown ponytail, not-posh sweatpants and hoodie – carried ALL our groceries across the street from her car to our porch. This included 8-packs of Gatorade plus boxes of seltzer water, plus lots of other heavy stuff. Did I mention it was raining?

Quarantine #14 3/27/2020

Last night we did another wild and crazy thing. We got in our car and went for a drive! The first thing we remarked to each other was that we had not been in the car together in weeks.  It felt a little odd to be in there, next to each other, about to GO SOMEPLACE! Maybe this is the way it feels to be the family dog when they let you sit in the front seat and EVERYTHING IS SO AMAZING!

We drove west into the rosy sunset, filled with excitement to, um, see the sky.  Quarantines are easiest on people who have a low bar for excitement.

Quarantine Diary #13 3/26/2020

What do you miss?  What, in our new pandemical world do you miss most from our pre-pandemical world?You know, the one we lived in till two weeks ago?

I don’t mean the heartbreaking realities such as safe medical care providers and enough places to go should one become ill and the loved ones that we are losing.

I just mean, what are we getting used to? Or trying to get used to. What might we never go back to?

Quarantine Diary #12 3/25/2020

Right now it is 11:00AM.  Got up this morning at the regular time. Did regular things. Came to the office to write. Worked (hardly at all) on a project, wrapped an item for eBay. Announced to Len at 10:30 that I was sleepy and going to take a nap.

You know what he said?  He said, “Me, too.”

The following half hour he took the sofa and I took our bed and both of us slept like toddlers on cots.

Quarantine Diary #11 3/24/2020

Most mornings we wake up, get coffee, then sit in bed to read news websites and Twitter on our phones. This isn’t the most spiritually centering way to begin a day but IMHO any morning one can actually rouse oneself at all is good enough.

Except this. Remember when Len and I went to Kearny, Nebraska last spring to see the migrating Sandhill Cranes? (Right here.) 

When I have freaked out enough about the news, I go to this crane cam. 

Quarantine Diary #10 3/23/2020

This was a really good part of today. When my daughter was putting the baby down for his nap, Len and I read storybooks to our 3-year old granddaughter before her nap. Literally, she was sitting on her little bed in Chicagoland while holding mommy’s phone.  I read; Len moved the phone around carefully to show the illustrations. 

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