I live and write on Lingít Aaní, and gratefully acknowledge the past, present and future caretakers of this beautiful place, the Jilkaat Kwaan and Jilkoot Kwaan.

It is my grand daughter’s first day of school. I will be volunteering in her kindergarten room once a week and I’m looking forward to it. Yesterday, I had my weekly book talk on the Zaandam, a Holland America Lines ship docked in Haines. The assistant harbor master checked passenger IDs and security cleared visitors like me. Gabe laughed and said I don’t look like a terrorist as he double checked the list for my name. We both wondered how this security on the town dock is the new norm. The world has changed so much since he grew up here, he says. I tell Gabe about the training my daughters, elementary school teachers in Juneau, had this week, before school begins there. They were taught how to protect themselves and children against an armed attacker.

They saw and heard clips from fatal school shootings. It was so horrific one of them had to leave the presentation. I recognized the name Columbine, but there were more– I can even list them all anymore, can you? The gentle teachers were taught to instruct the little children in their care that anything in the classroom can and should be used as a weapon to deter a gunman. 

Holy Mary Mother of God.  I can’t sleep thinking about this.

 When I was in kindergarten I was taught to use words, not fists. We were not allowed to hit anyone. Now, all over the country apparently– this is the new norm–  students will practice throwing books, blocks, tins of markers and more at bad guys?

 Books as weapons?

Does anyone else besides me think that responding to crazy with crazy is crazy?

The  leaders of school districts and municipalities must fight hard with all the words they have in their considerable educational arsenals for sane gun laws. That’s who should be on the front line in this battle, not children and teachers. 

The thing is, when I go to school next week, and sit on those little chairs, and read stories to those little children, I will be watching the door. I will be thinking, what if? And what will I do to keep these children and their teacher safe? Everything. That’s what they are worth to me.