My daughter stood there, less than 3 feet tall, with tears pouring out of her ice-blue eyes as she clutched her dinosaur lunchbox.
She was emotionally crumpled: I was late to pick her up.
Actually I was early that morning, but I had stopped outside her classroom to talk with a teacher; by the time the conversation ended it was 11:32.
But story time had been over for two minutes, and my daughter knows that I get her after story time every day. She is certain of this. If my daughter misses me during the morning, her teachers will often remind her that she doesn’t have to worry: Mommy always comes to get her right after story time.
It is a fact.
But that day she didn't see me right away. And as the seconds went by — all 120 of them — it become clear in my daughter's mind that:
• I was lost.
• She was suddenly all alone in this world.
When my daughter finally saw me open the door she let out a wail that was so full of relief that it nearly broke me.
I began to console her: I told her over and over that I was there; I was just outside the door.
I repeated myself again and again until my daughter believed me; until she understood that I would always come back for her. Of course, I would come back. Mommies and daddies always come back.
But during the past few days hundreds of children stood with their eyes on the doors of classrooms that never opened.
In Mississippi, for example, children were robbed of the most basic and foundational core of trust between parents and their children: mommy and daddy did not come back.
For these children, the seconds turned to minutes that turned to hours; the day turned to night. And still they were alone. Some of them were too young for comforting explanations — all they knew was that no one came to make their growing and consuming fears go away.
“Families are torn apart; men, women and children are separated. Children come home from school to find that their parents have disappeared.”
This is not a quote from a current news outlet, though it could be; it is a quote from Anne Frank’s diary. If you ever wondered what kind of person you would be during a moment in history like Anne Frank’s, now is your chance to find out.
My daughter thought she lost me for 120 seconds. For other children the clock is still ticking.
Do you care about them?
Darianne Schramm resides in St. Augustine.