I’m on the couch next to my 9-year-old daughter JoJo while she watches “Pair of Kings”. Five hours ago she was lying face down in a park in Santa Monica about 100 yards from where a lunatic opened fire. It was a field trip just a block from her school where the kids were supposed to be having relay races and eating watermelon to celebrate the end of the school year.
A lot of kids got hysterical as teachers yelled at them to stay down. My daughter stayed cool and actually comforted some of her friends. My wife was chaperoning the picnic, and when JoJo found her she couldn’t keep it in. She cried that she wanted to go home and a little while later threw up.
The teachers did what great teachers do: they took control and got the kids into the community center where they distracted them with games. Balancing the protocols of a high-alert situation with the sensitivity those children needed at that moment is a tall order. Towards the end of the four-hour lockdown, with choppers beating overhead, Mrs. Salmaggi taught the kids to do ‘The Hustle’.
I put a lot of trust in my kid’s teachers. They mold them and inspire them every day and on certain days they do more; they make them safe. We cannot do enough to develop and maintain great public school teachers, as we demand more and more from them. When I finally got to hug my daughter I was dizzy with gratitude, much of it towards these teachers who stepped up made things seem normal when they were not.
My kids asked if I’d make pancakes and smoothies for dinner and JoJo wants to stay in the house for the rest of the weekend. I asked her what we’d do all day and she said we could play Rummy Cube and watch “Dumb and Dumber”. She also asked if we have the music for “The Hustle”.