Lil’T's school’s response to the school shooting was increased security. I wasn’t aware of how much had changed until it was my turn to volunteer.
Due to a hospitalization, I had no babysitting for the day. Since the activity I was needed for was tying skates, I figured it would be best to go anyways. I remember skating lessons and toddlers running around while parents came and tied skates. I and other parents have brought their littler ones while volunteering for certain events and thought this might be one that wouldn’t matter.
After being buzzed into the school, I was told C-minor couldn’t stay because of security reasons. The secretary gave the example that there was no insurance if one of the skating kids bumped into my toddler. I pointed out that she would hardly be in the same space as the skating grade ones but understood that since we had signed waivers for Lil’T before the skating instructors would come I would make sure she wasn’t in the skating area at all. I was told to inform the teacher.
The teacher said she wanted the help and we decided that Lil’T would wait out in the hall with C-minor until most of the kids were ready. Then, since untying skates was quicker than tying them, I left. As I left a different secretary approached me very angrily. She was red-faced and shaking as she indignantly described how I had transgressed.
Apparently, it wasn’t taking a toddler into the skating area that was forbidden- it was taking a toddler into the school in the first place. How the teachers and myself had failed to intuit this new rule was beyond her.
Because that is the best way to keep the students safe?
I didn’t know before but now the entrance that has benches where the kindergarten parents wait with their babies is always empty. The parents and children wait outside. With windchill, its often -20, -30, -40 Celsius. People can’t build community alone in their running vehicles.
I thought the way to promote safety was to create a strong community. Creating a climate of fear and isolation does not.
They have every right to change their volunteer policies. However, deciding not to let toddlers in the school as part of their safety policies is counter-productive.
Since we were in the area, we went for a walk and then waited in the school playground until school was out. There is a wing of the playground that wraps around the parking lot with baby swings. Since none of the kindergartners is under 3, I assumed it was there for parents to use so we waited there.
Just before the bell, a class was having their gym class outside. Some kids decided to play in the trees on the far end of the field (the place where I would have been playing) and were called back by their teacher. Then the group of girls came to our wing of the playground. They got called back.
I tried to avoid eye contact or even looking in the direction of the kids and wondered if this was how dark-skinned males feel when a lone woman crosses the street to not walk past him. Chances are he won’t hurt her, but chances are she’s been hurt before by someone else. I hoped I was showing I was a safe person by not making eye contact. It does feel crappy to be assumed dangerous to small children. This is something that cis-women really take for granted. If we smile at an adorable child, its caregiver usually smiles at us. If anyone else does, they are sometimes met with a glare.
But then the other parents arrived, and suddenly the climate changed. It was ok to smile at people again, including the dads there to get their kids.