The mother hugged her daughter tight to try and reassure her that she was safe in her arms, but the experience made the parents realize they can't always protect their kids from every single threat out in the real world.
The day a young mother, Shelly Harrison Reed sent her two children, Sean, 10, and daughter Vanessa, 7 to school, it was a morning like any other. But what nobody expected was the barrage of notifications for parents on the New Castle County school's Facebook page. It was regarding a bomb threat that had caused the school to go on a complete lockdown. And what started as a normal day had turned into one that no parent wants to relive.
For Shelley and her husband, the news of the threat their two kids were in was the day they realized they couldn't protect their children at all times. But what was all the more heartbreaking is the mother's realization that her little 7-year-old daughter thought she might not survive the day.
Knowing that her children's school was on lockdown because of a bomb threat was probably one of the last things she would have expected that day. But thankfully, the school had the situation under control and the police had the buildings safe and secure. Shelley said, "I felt that the school handled it very well," according to Today. Although her children had previous experience with drills, she knew that actually going through a real lockdown for the first time can be frightening for her little ones.
Later in the afternoon, she picked up her children from the school bus stop and asked them how they were. They both told her about the experience and a while later, the mother noticed something written on Vanessa's arm.
"In case the bad guy got to us and I got killed, you and Daddy would know that I love you," Vanessa told her mom. And Shelley cried with her daughter as she saw the words "Love Mom and Dad" written across Vanessa's arm.
"I didn't have words. I hugged her and squeezed her probably harder than I ever have and I tried to reassure her that she's safe," said Shelley.
During the lockdown, both the siblings, 10-year-old Sean and 7-year-old Vanessa were in different buildings. And what worried Sean was the thought of his sister and how he could get to her to make sure she was safe. That night, when Shelley's husband Jeff saw Vanessa's hand, he first thought it was just his daughter and her friends playing around with markers. But when he asked her about it, Vanessa broke into tears and hugged her daddy.
That's when Jeff realized that no matter how much he would want to wrap his children in his arms and keep them away from danger, there are some things he can't protect them from. "I teared up, because I'm 'Daddy," said Jeff. "I am the one who keeps her safe. She's Daddy's girl. That was a moment where I realized I had no control over her safety outside of my home.
Jeff adds, "I make sure she doesn't get out of the car and run through a parking lot, that she always walks on the side of the sidewalk farthest from the road, that she always holds my hand. I do all those strong Daddy things, and that day, she literally thought she was going to die and she wrote on herself to tell her she loved us."
As Jeff explained about how Sean worried about his sister during the lockdown, the father said, "This is bittersweet for me, because I've got great kids. They love us and each other."
Shelley can see that Vanessa is being normal, but she worries that maybe she's holding back feelings from the entire experience. The very next day, as they were waiting for the bus, Vanessa asked Shelley something that still worries her. "She suddenly asked, 'Mommy, what if the bad guy comes back today?' so she is obviously harboring some sense of fear, subconsciously or not," said Shelley.
The parents know that even though they want the best for their children, it is impossible to keep them away from every single danger out there in the real world. "I'm not one who can homeschool, and I don't want to shelter my kid from the world, so to speak," she said. "I am a believer in public schools, and I think this is a new day and age that we're experiencing, and all we can do is pray."