Friday, April 22, 2022

when things don't go according to plan

Gates and Eden Take a Selfie in the Lobby of the UC Berkeley School of Optometry Eyecare Clinic

Every parent dreads receiving the news their kid’s school is going on lockdown. (More than 4.1 million students endured at least one lockdown in the 2017-2018 school year alone (source)).

I got that text and email yesterday. Out of an abundance of caution, our child’s school along with seven others in the district went into soft lockdown due to a developing situation at the nearby university.

Girl with short brown hair sits at a table with a mirror and a tray of eyeglass frames in front of her

It happened during what was supposed to be a fun, uneventful morning picking out Gates' first pair of glasses--a morning that didn't quite go according to plan. Continue reading to learn what happened and see which four pairs of frames she's considering.

Girl with short brown hair stands in front of a case with eye glass frames displayed


Yesterday was meant to be one of those mommy-and-me moments she’d look back fondly on when she was grown. The plan: finally get her eyes examined, and then, if there was a cancellation, pick (and order) a pair of glasses. The reality? Memorable day, but not one anyone would want to relive.

About an hour into Gates' appointment, I received a text from her school that they were going into a soft lockdown. What made the situation slightly more surreal was that I received the notice while I was AT said university WITH MY CHILD where we had already been sheltering in place for almost half an hour.

Gates reaches her hands into a tray of eyeglass frames



“A typical 2018 day in the US included at least 16 school campuses in lockdown (source).”

Yesterday my worst nightmare came true: my ten year old child was in the middle of a campus-wide lockdown.

How did she get there you ask? Not by being in school. Yes, she was on a campus when the shelter-in-place order went into effect, but it wasn’t her school.

Let’s backtrack for a minute.


Four eyeglass frames sitting on a table


It took us over three years to get in to see a pediatrics eye doctor. In 2019, we lived in San Francisco where there were more kids needing services than doctors, so high need cases were prioritized. Then, 2020 happened, and pediatrics eye doctors were only seeing emergencies. 2020 ended and come late 2021, pediatrics eye doctors in San Francisco were still only accepting emergencies. After moving to Berkeley in December, we were finally able to secure an appointment in February for the end of April, which we snapped up, and then counted the days.

Girl with short brown hair and green eyes tries on a pair of teal, metal rimmed Calvin Klein Jeans eyeglass frames


Gates has wanted glasses forever, well, at least since she was three years old. So, she was in awe at the selection of frames at the Meredith W. Morgan Eye Center at the UC Berkeley School of Optometry.

Slowly, she went from case to case, carefully considering each shape and each color. Our clinician knew the offerings like the back of her hand and expertly guided us to smaller frames that would work with our daughter's face. At no point were we rushed.

Girl with short brown hair and green eyes tries on a pair of pink tortoise shell colored Jones New York Petite eyeglass frames


And, that’s where we were: at the Eye Clinic at the Optometry School of UC Berkeley trying on and picking out glasses.

We were having what seemed like would be the perfect Mommy-Daughter memory when we looked back on it years from now.


The lockdown wasn't experienced at her school. Yes, her school would go into soft lockdown less than an hour later, but we were locked down at the local university in the Eye Care Center. (As parents with all the images we see on social media and the news, we think it's just a matter of time until our kids' school is locked down because of an active threat.

"There is less than 1% chance that a person in a school will ever face an active shooter situation (source)." And "[s]tatistically speaking, the odds of being killed in a school shooting are extremely low -- about 1 in 2 million (source)".

Not all school districts in the US share lockdown notices district-wide, which don't get me wrong I appreciate. And not all districts, when a threat is nearby, put schools into lockdown to protect the kids attending school there. When we lived in San Francisco, we heard of knifings and gun shots near schools, but never saw whether the schools less than a block away were alerted. Since enrolling in Berkeley Unified School District, there have been two instances including today where schools have been in soft lockdown (once in March when a former student came onto a middle school campus which went into full lockdown while two others near by went into a soft lockdown and then today when seven nearby schools went into a soft lockdown).

When we went into lockdown there wasn't a lot of information. A campus-wide alert simply told everyone to shelter in place and move away from the windows. Some time later facilities came through and locked all the buildings. The staff noticed our daughter and took care not to share misinformation that might scare her.

The scariest part of lockdowns is the lack of information about what's going on. As a parent, I didn't want alarm my daughter or tell her anything that wasn't true. I simply shared someone was having a lot of feelings and had made threats. The school was taking the precaution of having us stay safe where we were while they located him (source). I switched my phone into low battery mode and monitored Twitter for updates.

Girl with short brown hair and green eyes tries on a pair of purple, metal rimmed Nine West eyeglass frames


"While we are fortunate that no one was injured in this incident, we recognize the alarm and the anxiety this caused. Our sense of safety and security was threatened; our academic and research pursuits were interrupted; and, for some, past experiences with violence may have resurfaced (source)."

I don't know the people the individual threatened. But I do know similar situations. I was an individual to whom threats had been made when I was going to college--not once, but twice, and at two separate universities. While locking down an entire campus may seem extreme, no one was injured or killed and the individual was located (source). In my situation, precautions were only taken the second time. I was notified and told to get off campus to a place that the individual wouldn't know about. The staff, as well as fellow students, were alerted and extra security was deployed. I'm grateful for everyone who helped me that day, and I'm incredibly appreciative to all who assisted us while UC Berkeley was locked down.

Girl with short brown hair and green eyes tries on a pair of brown tortoise shell colored Jones New York Petite eyeglass frames



"Rebecca Peterson to Jack Peterson: 'See? That's what today will be. Not the day he got lost, but the day that his dad made sundaes in the kitchen and put pillows on the ground. That is how he'll remember it. That's how we're gonna remember it. Never too late to turn a day around.' (This Is Us, Season 6 Episode 3, "Four Fathers.")"

While our Mommy-Daughter day didn't go as planned, we'll remember the helpers. The optician who brought everyone water. The other optician who gave her strawberry Pocki and an entire slice of coffee cake and who later guided us through Minor Hall to reduce the distance we'd have to travel outside to get back to our car. And the facilities staff who helped map out the shortest path back to the parking garage near the stadium.

The lockdown won't change our behavior. We'll still go to the University Eye Care Center. I'm not going to doublcheck that my purse is filled with snacks. But I will remember how much the staff and students cared and showed two strangers kindness without hesitation.
Which is your favorite pair of glasses Gates is modeling?


Credits: All layouts designed by and images taken by Eden Hensley Silverstein for The Road to the Good Life.