It’s Back to School time in the LaRochelle household. The first day was an uneventful one, sending my youngest off to first grade. We held it together. I came home and my oldest made jokes about how quiet the house was without the youngest. I laughed. “Imagine how quiet it is without either of you.” We played some Overwatch and just enjoyed the day together. He would be starting his sophomore the next day. It was a fun last day.
The next morning, I heard him woke up just before 6. He wanted to take a shower to get rid of the smell of “teen boy”, just in case. He wanted to make an impression on his first day. When I went into the living room, he stood dutifully in front of the door for the obligatory first day photo that I was inevitably going to force. I wasn’t ready but he was, so I did it anyways. I wanted to start my coffee so I could pretend to function in the morning. I left the room to get my youngest son’s clothes out for the day. While in his room, I heard the door open. I screamed “What are you doing?! Wait!” I heard his laugh and his exasperated “Oh Mom.” He did wait. I looked at this not-so little young man with pride. “You have a good day. I love you so much.” He muttered “Ok Mom”, at least that’s what I heard. I yelled at him. “Really? That’s it.” I said. “What? I said I love you too.” He laughed. I told him to make me proud. He always did anyways, but I always want to make sure that he knew. Teenage years can be rough, after all.
After he left, the day went pretty uneventful after this. I got some work done, worked out lightly as my mouth still hurts a little from my last dental procedure. I played a little WoW. I looked at the clock when I went back to work to check the time. It was almost time to get my youngest from school. My oldest took the bus, so I didn’t have anything to worry about. I got out of my “work” sweatpants and put on some jeans and shoes. I then went on Facebook as I normally would to waste time before getting my youngest. I noticed the local police department had a post about an active crime scene. I thought about how many times I’ve seen that recently. I almost didn’t even pay attention to it until I noticed that it was at my oldest son’s school. A news alert came to my phone shortly after. My chest felt like an elephant just sat down on it. The pictures of cops everywhere and SWAT teams with full tactical gear on terrified me. All I knew was my kid should have been on a bus home and there was a “suspicious person”. I knew that this looked terrifying for me and I wasn’t even there.
I immediately texted my son. Nothing. I kept texting, hoping for something. I have never been this scared in my entire life. While waiting for my younger son at his school, I listened to everyone talk about what they knew. I didn’t know anything. They were talking about a shooter, injuries. I was getting more scared, clutching my phone hoping for something. Facebook messenger popped up. It wasn’t him, but I was happy to have a distraction even for a moment. Every second that passed without any news made me more anxious. I kept checking on Facebook, hoping for an update. For something. Finally an hour later, they were evacuating the school. I texted again. Still nothing. I decided to try my nephew, who also attends the school. “Oh yeah, I have him right here with me. We’re okay.” Those words have never sounded sweeter to me. The teacher made him leave his bag and phone in the classroom. At least I know why I couldn’t talk to him. My nephew told me not to worry about picking him up. He would bring him home for me. “Family first”, he said to me. He’s right. A short time after that, around 4pm and 2 hours after the incident first began, I finally got a call from the school. Pickup would be at the elementary school next door. Their stuff would remain in the school. It was still an active crime scene after all. They would let us know when the kids could get their stuff. I didn’t care about the stuff. I wanted my son home.
I waited, standing in the doorway in between pacing around the house. He is going to be 16 soon, my oldest son. I wanted to hold him like he was my little baby again. This time though, it would be more for my comfort than his. I saw him and his cousin pull up. I ran out and hugged him so hard. I wanted to cry. But, this was his traumatic day not mine. My tears could wait until he wasn’t around. That’s the thing though, right? If something is traumatic for our children, it ends up being almost as traumatic to us.
After all of this, it turns out the whole thing was a hoax. Some terrible, pathetic excuse of a human being just wanted to get their kicks and cause a scene. That may be true. Or it may just be a troubled kid who needs help. I don’t care. I want to punch this person so hard in the face. Because I’m angry, not stupid. That kid (let’s face it, it probably is some dumb teenager) for whatever reason, made me imagine such awful situations. I’m a writer. I have a very creative imagination. And I watch a lot of Criminal Minds and ID. Those aren’t things that mix well in times like these. I hope the book gets thrown so hard at this kid. I hope they go to jail for a very long time. The State police showed up. Full SWAT, a substantial amount of police, and EMTs were there. The wasted resources that could have been life or death if there was another problem in the city, for what? It doesn’t make any sense to me.
I’m fortunate though; it was a hoax. My kid wasn’t getting slaughtered as people have been far too often lately. My kid came home safe without a physical mark. I’m not sure if there is anything emotionally wrong with him right now, but I will keep a very close eye on him. My kid came home. That is everything. This hoax wasn’t funny. Hours later, I write this and I’m still anxious. I’m still terrified and shaking. By the time this posts on Tuesday, I will still be wondering if I should send my kid back to school. I have enough of an education to home school; I nearly was a teacher after all. I can do this right? I can’t though. I can’t protect him forever, and that kills me.
As a final note, the local and state police responded quickly. Had there been a real threat, they would have made the incident less tragic. I’d love to thank them for the amazing job. Our kids are that much safer because of your amazing strength and courage.