Stop. Drop. Roll.

When I was young…

I am sure there were songs in school that had learning purposes.

Hurricane Carla, 1961, Channelview
Hurricane Carla, 1961, Channelview

I do not remember learning songs to deal with fires, tornadoes, hurricanes or earthquakes. Thinking about it I do remember crawling under the desk in case of some emergency, but this was in the early 60’s so it could have been a result of cold war training. Perhaps my siblings remember something.

The most I remember is from 5th grade as we learned a Thanksgiving song about visiting grandma’s house in the woods.

Over the river, and through the wood,
To Grandfather’s house we go;
the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh
through the white and drifted snow.

Of course, there were all the Sunday School songs. Heads. Shoulders. Knees and Toes. Father Abraham. Little Birdie. Jesus Loves Me.

My kids learned different songs and poems to match their time. In Alaska there were routines learned to react to earthquakes. I remember someone learning, “Stranger Danger.” Somewhere they learned how to react to fire. Stop. Drop. Roll.

Each culture and geography location probably has different important things for kids to learn.

While following an expat living in Israel, I begin to learn how they teach their kids to respond to terrorist bombings. She is from L.A. and has two children.  “Code Red. Code Red” is what the teacher calls out. The students respond with a song about preparing to hide from dangerous events. They learn it’s okay to be scared, and then at some point they laugh about the calamity as they return to normal.

Feel free to click here to see the video and read her blog.

Can you imagine what our kids are having to learn to live in a dangerous world. There is no true protection because danger happens at some of the most innocuous locations and times. Teachers, clergy, neighbors, even parents. Just about everyone is suspect, and every event a tragedy.

The laundry list is long of tragedies happening around the world. Just the past few days have shown us tragedy and consequences of action.

Can we change this? Can we stop teaching children how to react to danger? Can we stop warning them about danger from strangers?

No. At least not in my lifetime. Nor can I become a hermit to protect the next generation.

Ghandi says, “If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children.”

Could we not say the same thing about dangers from other people? Perhaps. Yet this world keeps growing in number, and it seems like violence continues to grow.

We cannot say it about natural disasters. The best we can do is develop a contingency plan. In my neck of the woods we are dealing with the largest wildfire we’ve seen in the state. Tsunami’s. Volcano’s. Earthquakes. Mudslides. The best we can do is be prepared. I remember Hurricane Carla in 1961. It was a major storm and we went to Kentucky during this time and returned to huge devastation. Water came within a few feet of our house and we lived a half a mile from the lake.

How do we prepare? It will have to begin with the children. You must teach them how to respond to dangers. A young girl in early summer was nearly abducted in a crowded shopping center. Teaching her it was right to yell, scream, and pitch a fit was probably her salvation. Teaching children how to handle aggression in others, as well as in themselves, is necessary. Showing them how to react and respond must be paramount. Keeping them in the dark does not help.

Just as we teach them to grow in knowledge and ability to make their way in this world, we must teach them how to live.

John Adams, the second president of the US, stated, “I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.”

Scripture even has similar concepts. One generation is responsible for teaching the next generation, so that they will be able to teach even the next generation. (Deut. 4:10, Psalms 132:12)

Along the way we probably have felt we have not done a proper job. It is not too late to start. We cannot hide from our responsibilities!

Written before it was published, Graham Nash (Crosby, Stills and Nash) released a song in 1970 that speaks to children from parents, and from children to parents.

“Teach Your Children”
You, who are on the road must have a code that you can live by.
And so become yourself because the past is just a good bye.
Teach your children well, their father’s hell did slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams, the one they fix, the one you’ll know by.
Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you, you would cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.
And you, of the tender years can’t know the fears that your elders grew by,
And so please help them with your youth, they seek the truth before they can die.
Teach your parents well, their children’s hell will slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams, the one they fix,the one you’ll know by.
Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you, you would cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.



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