California, Best of California Bull

Los Angeles Schools have their first Snow Day! Sorry, I mean Terror Day.

Los Angeles Schools have their first Snow Day! Sorry, I mean Terror Day.

My friends who grew up in Wisconsin wax nostalgic about days when they lifted the blinds and saw so much snow they knew they’d soon hear on the radio that school was cancelled for the day. They’d play Monopoly in their pajamas until their parents barked at them to read a book.

In California, we have our own version of snow days now — I call them Terror Days. 

We started small, with lock-down days. My daughter Lily is in fifth grade, and in the last six years she has had three lock-down days when nearby criminals were enough of a threat that her school stopped classes and locked the doors against possible invasion.

In Kindergarten, a wanted murderer was captured by police in the apartment complex next to the school, and Lily and her school mates spotted him as he tried to elude police. In second grade, bank robbers were cornered in the neighborhood and the doors got shut. This past summer, someone “committed suicide by cop” on Ventura Blvd, and Lily was caught for hours in her summer camp class. She takes these lock-downs in stride, however. They are part of her childhood now. 

“Were you scared?” I ask. 

“No, we closed the blinds and watched Frozen and Wreck it Ralph. It was fun.”

Growing up in California, I did earthquake drills where we’d dive under our desks. Now they also have terror drills where the kids and teacher prep for armed intruders. 

This week she got her first full Terror Day, where Lily missed the whole day of school — just like the kids in Wisconsin who skip school for Snow Days.

This is the e-mail that was sent to a member of the school board that prompted shutting down all of LAUSD schools and most private schools in Los Angeles.

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:

I am emailing you to inform you of the happenings on Tuesday, 12/15/15.

Something big is going down. Something very big. It will make national headlines. Perhaps, even international ones. You see, my last 4 years here at one of the district high schools has been absolute hell. Pure, unmitigated, agony. The bullying, the loneliness, the rejection... it is never-ending. And for what? Just because I'm 'different'?

No. No more. I am a devout Muslim, and was once against violence, but I have teamed up with a local jihadist cell as it is the only way I'll be able to accomplish my massacre the correct way. I would not be able to do it alone. Me, and my 32 comrades, will die tomorrow in the name of Allah. Every school in the L.A. Unified district is being targeted. We have bombs hidden in lockers already at several schools. They are strategically placed and are meant to crumble the foundations of the very buildings that monger so much hate and discrimination. They are pressure cooker bombs, hidden in backpacks around the schools. They are loaded with 20 lbs. of gunpowder, for maximum damage. They will be detonated via Cell Phone. Not only are there bombs, but there are nerve gas agents set to go off at a specific time: during lunch hour. To top it off, my brothers in Allah and I have Kalashnikov rifles, Glock 18 Machine pistols, and multiple handheld grenades. The students at every school in the L.A. Unified district will be massacred, mercilessly. And there is nothing you can do to stop it.

If you do end up trying to, by perhaps, beefing up security, or canceling classes for the day, it won't matter. Your security will not be able to stop us. We are an army of Allah. If you cancel classes, the bombings will take place regardless, and we will bring our guns to the streets and offices of Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Bakersfield, and San Diego.

I wish you the best luck. It is time to pray to allah, as this may be your last day.

The e-mail was a hoax, but with the San Bernardino mass slaying being so close in time and space, I don’t blame LAUSD and the private schools for taking a cautious approach.

Lily thought Terror Day was great. She enjoyed a playdate with her friend Ruby most of the day until I phoned home and told her she should read for an hour.

This is my daughter’s baseline. This is her “normal.” I understand -- growing up I had a baseline of "normal"  that included some scary stuff too.

I didn’t fear earthquakes; in fact, I looked forward to them. Nor did I fear California’s famous serial killers and kidnappers who popped up twice a decade. They became Bogeymen in our scary stories that we’d use to torture our younger brothers and sisters — The Zodiac Killer is coming to get you…Treefrog Johnson is coming to get you…the Night Stalker is Coming to Get You…The Hillside Strangler is coming to get you.

Lily’s generation already has serial killers like Richard Ramirez to worry about, along with the kidnapper who chains you in a shack and rapes you for ten year before you can escape, and the men with guns who shoot it out with the cops on the main street of Studio City. But now she must also worry about the jihadist who was bullied as a kid who wants to kill dozens of students -- that's a reality I never had to face.

I hear her talking with friends, making up stories about all of them. I encourage the stories; they will help her and her friends make sense of her world, and help them to remain vigilant and observant in case something horrible does happen.

This is her childhood, and these are her Bogeymen. I just hope they stay in her stories and never become real. I know however, that this week's Terror Day won't be the last.

Here is a link to an article from the Los Angeles Times:

http://eedition2.latimes.com/Olive/ODE/LATimes2/LandingPage/LandingPage.aspx?href=TEFULzIwMTUvMTIvMTY.&pageno=MQ..&entity=QXIwMDEwMQ..&view=ZW50aXR5