The Grey Zone


Today  was one of those days that give parents grey hairs.

prevent hairs from turning grey

Mid-morning I got a call from the school to notify parents that the school was on lock down. Gun shots had been fired, the police called to the school.  It’s good to be informed, however it’s a rather helpless feeling.  I know that they are on lock down.  I can’t do a thing about it.

If I wanted to go pick her up from school they wouldn’t allow me access in – hence the lock down.  I turn on the tv – no report  on the incidence.  I pace, I try to stay calm, neither of which accomplishes anything  except raise my  stress level.

There are few things in this world that can set my day in a tailspin – but the potential danger to one of my children will do it.  After my concern for my daughter, then I think of the other kids, their parents, the faculty and staff and wonder if any of them are injured.  The world we live in today is  a dangerous place.  When I was a teen school was a safe place and the only concern a parent  would have would be a sports injury or if their child was skipping school.

With  tragic headlines comes an additional level of concern. I tend to be an overprotective parent anyway, this sort of thing really doesn’t help.   I’m not a helicopter mom, but I admit overprotective.  I’ve had other incidences  with  the younger daughter that have given me  grey hair.

When she was 3 months old she had a double ear infection, was critically dehydrated and they tested her for spinal meningitis.  I  was a nursing mom with sleep deprivation and postpartum blues – they had to physically remove me from the  room by force.  Two officers escorting me to an outside waiting room.  It’s not that I  was trying to create a scene – she was only 3 months old.  My baby and they were going to shove a needle in her spine.  I was already terrified for her life at the sudden  decline of her health which is why I had her in the pediatrician’s office in the first place.  It turned out no meningitis, but it netted our first stay in the hospital.   I stayed with her – except for the short time they removed me to do the spinal tap – because I was nursing at the time.

A second trip to the ER happened about 6 weeks later, this time a UTI.  Then a 3rd and a counseling of how to wipe a female child’s bottom.  Then a 4th and an ultrasound to detect a defect  that was causing the UTI’s. (urinary tract infection) I humbly sat through the  lecture of how to wipe my child even though I was pretty sure I had at least that much figured out.  When your child is sick, you’ll do anything for them, humbling myself was  nothing. Although now I think it was just ridiculous the way the nurse talked to me like I was a complete moron but  we’ll move on.

AT  10 months old she was sick again, this time  my husband and I swapped  who would take time off to stay home with her while she was sick as I’d used up all my leave on maternity.   Any day off for me was leave without pay, but my baby was sick and needed attention.  It turned out she had developed  RSV ( Respiratory syncytial virus)  something that she was exposed to at the daycare I had placed them in.  RSV is usually something that premature babies develop.  Both my kids were full term whoppers that were nearly 9 pounds each.   So there we are at the hospital again, this time she was under an  oxygen tent with an iv in her  temple.   It was at this point that I resigned my government job to care for my children.

Things went smoothly for a while then when she was in  5th grade, there was an incident with the bus.  It was time for the bus to arrive in the afternoon, I  am on the front porch heading to the bus stop when I hear screeching and a crash.  I look up to see my daughter in front of the bus getting ready to cross the road looking at the bus like it did tricks.  As I walked closer to the bus I see that there is a car  wedged under the back of the bus.   I motion her across and tell her to go inside and get my cell phone.  The 3 college students that were in the car didn’t fare well at all.  It was a  tragic day, yet Jim the bus driver held his foot on the brakes, the bus didn’t move at all and my daughter who was standing in front of the bus was safe and sound.  Don’t even tell me there are no miracles –   because THAT was a complete miracle to me and Jim is the biggest hero  that ever was!

Another time  one of those huge dump trucks came whizzing by the bus after topping the hill, and instead of  ramming the back of the bus decided to fly past.  My kids were both in front of the bus and felt the blow back as the dump truck raced by – close enough  to reach out and touch the truck. Two seconds later and they would have been flattened.  I lost it that day.  I couldn’t stop crying over  what almost happened.  I drove my kids to a different bus stop after that and half the time I drive them to the school.

In the past  4 years, I’ve had  these lock down calls.  Two of them were form  drug busts, but htis past year there have been two incidents with guns and ammo.   The phone call today  was this:  ” The school district has placed  the high school building under lock down. Gun shots were fired and the police department have been called  to assess the situation. You will be notified when the lock down has been lifted.”

Guns fired? OH, no no no no.  NO!  This  is a sick joke right?    I sit anxiously waiting to hear, preparing  for the worst.  I text my daughter. She doesn’t respond.  Never mind he fact that they are suppose to have cell phones off during class times. I need to know she’s ok.  I panic, I pace, I  scroll through Facebook.  Try to talk to online friends only to  be called stupid.  I down my coffee, get another cup.   Finally, nearly two hours later the school calls and says the lock down has been lifted that it was determined that 3 individuals were target practicing on the wooded  property adjacent to the school.  ( Yes, we live in a rural area.)

The shots weren’t actually at the school.  I can breathe again.    I break down and cry.  Relief floods over me.  These are the parenting moments that no one warns you about when you  want the cute cuddly sweet baby.  These are the heart wrenching moments that age you 10 years in 2 hours.  These are the times when you feel how truly helpless  you are.

These are the moments when you realize they are only yours for a short time anyway.  My greatest achievements have been my two wonderful girls.  Regardless of the angst, the drama, the lack of doing their chores I am so  proud of the young women they have become.

I go in the bathroom to wash my face before she arrives home. Trying to hide the puffiness of  crying in concern for her.  When she gets home  she says nothing and just goes to her room.  I want to hug her and never let her go, but I can’t.

Moms get emotional, they worry for their children, they want the best for them but at the same time understand that  they need to learn to stand on their own two feet.  I also understand that it’s probably not as big deal from her perspective as it was for mine.  GOOD!  I hope her and her friends  had a good day despite the lock down.

Life goes on as usual – THANK GOD!

She won’t know that  more grey hairs popped out in that 2 hour span.  She won’t know that 10 years of my life vanished instantly.  She doesn’t know the instant terror that something like this causes a mother.

When she came out of her room, I hug her and smile. ” Hey, wanna go for ice cream?”

I think I’ve earned it.

Write on my friends, write on! Remember there’s a remedy for the grey zone – it’s called L’Oreal.

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3 comments on “The Grey Zone

  1. Ellie, actually you did better then I would have. melt down would have happened and hugging would have commenced as soon as my daughter walked in that door. You are stronger than you realize and you are NOT stupid! All the shootings we see going on in the United States in recent times you had a right to be scared, worried and age 10 yrs in 2 hours. I’m very glad everything turned out alright and no one was hurt. You are awesome and I respect that. Glad everything turned out alright. have a wonderful weekend!

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