I don’t know which of us is more nervous.

OK, that’s crap. Yes I do. My baby girl. By far.

The fire drill is this morning.

We’ve done it all right this time.

We waited until the day before – just enough time, not too much time – the constant balancing and gauging and then rebalancing – and well, I hope it’s just enough time and not too much time. And isn’t this the game we play?

We have the Social Story from last year. From the time that we didn’t have any warning and my girl nearly crawled out of her skin.

We have the story about the nice firefighters and how they aren’t usually at school, but once they were because they were testing the fire alarm. About how they keep us safe. How the fire alarm tells us that we need to leave the building so that the firefighters can turn it off. How when the fire alarm is too loud, I can cover my ears and stay with my teacher. How we’ll walk together and wait for the fire alarm to stop and the firefighters to tell us it’s OK to go back in the building. How if I hear the fire alarm, I can pretend it’s saying, “Get out of the building!” in a funny voice.

The story that we had to write with the BCBA after my girl nearly crawled out of her skin.

The story that didn’t stop her from saying EVERY SINGLE DAY since that fire drill- EVERY SINGLE DAY without fail – “No noises at school today. There will NOT be firefighters at school today.” Every single God damned day.

We have the checklist. She knows what to do. Together we read through the procedure. We practiced how her aide will help her check each item off the list.

When I hear the fire alarm I will cover my hands with my ears.

“What will you cover?”

“My ears.”

I will have a quiet, calm voice and body.

“Will we scream and run?”

“No, we will stay calm.”

Then I will line up with my class and my teachers with my ears covered.

“What will you do next?

“Stay with Miss K.”

My teacher will lead me out of the building and away from the alarm.

“Where will you go?”


I will wait outside with my teacher until the nice firemen turn off the alarm.

“Who will turn off the alarm?”

“The nice firemen.”

When the nice firemen turn off the alarm, the fire drill is done and I will walk back to my classroom with my class and my teacher.

I’ve told her that she’s different this year. She’s more grown-up. She can handle this. It won’t be the same.

As I walked out of her room last night, my girl’s last words for the day were, “Tomorrow is my fire day.”

I left her at school this morning covering her ears. She didn’t believe me when I told her not to worry, that it wouldn’t happen without her knowing.

She was shaking as I kissed her goodbye. I made the funny voice. “What does the alarm REALLY say?” She laughed as we said, “Get out of the building, get out of the building!”

We’re as ready as we can be. All hands are on deck. She’s going to be OK.

She’s going to be OK.

Tell me she’s going to be OK.

31 thoughts on “fire

  1. I don’t make promises to anyone these days, but I’ll tell you this. From all I’ve been reading she seems to be in a much better place than last year, and you’ve done all you can to prepare her. It sounds like she’s got a good teacher who will do her job too. Fingers are crossed, PLEASE let us know what happens!

  2. She IS going to be ok. She will get better at this and it will get easier. We did have to take some personal days off for fire drills one year (third grade I think) because it was just too much, but now we get through these fire drills with very little help. It’s still not fun, but the routine makes it bearable.

  3. She WILL be ok, and tonight, she will tell you with pride how well she did. Because only she and you will truly understand what she has to face today. And the pride of that will help tomorrow, and the next day.

  4. I know I spoke to you already after seeing a bit of the story on facebook but I have to say how thrilled I am with our little super star. She made it through with flying colors. She rocks.

    Love you,

  5. thank-you for putting in “nice firemen”, cause as the wife of one, they sure are nice, especially to kids, and special babes in our neck of the woods get the royal treatment. Rock on Brooke and DOAM!!! Praying for a great, safe day:)

  6. I so relate to what you are going through. My son also used to flip out, but he has improved so much. It can take a while though. My son will still be unsettled for a while after the fire drill. I hope it went well. Know that you did a great job preparing her as much as possible.

  7. she DID it!

    not only did she do it, she ROCKED it.

    thanks to all the people who helped make this happen – the teacher who put the fire drill on the class’s written schedule this morning so brooke could see it, miss k who worked days ahead to prepare, atlas who pinched hit today and looked out for our girl, the inclusion specialist and principal who coordinated with the town fire dept to make sure that we all knew the drill was coming, the BCBA who wrote the social story, miss n who wrote the procedural checklist, the firemen for keeping our kids safe and YOU for supporting my girl.

    but in the end, it’s brooke (as always) who does the heavy lifting. and she did it. she did it. she did it. she did it!

  8. i can’t wait until brooke gets to read this some day and finds out just what an amazing network she had of support out here in the world when she was getting through this stuff. we are so blessed to have all of you rooting for her – for all of us. what a beautiful thing. thank you.

  9. Tears in my eyes, Yay Brooke! Yay Mom! Prayers of rejoicing to God for the success of today, Prayers of thanks for all who worked to help Brooke! Prayers for rejoicing for Brooke for continued growth and success. Prayers of thanks for you Jess, and your blog. We are a few years behind you and you give me insight of progress and hope.

  10. Seriously, fire drills are terrible. They do ours on the first or second day of school here, which seems like a ridiculously bad idea. Evidently it doesn’t bother my kids, as is it only now that my third is in kindergarten that I have heard about them. But I imagine that there are many kids who have a hard time hacking it, especially so early in the year.

  11. There is hope!
    My son is now 16 and until the last couple of years we went thru exactly the same thing – but all of a sudden all the reminders and reassurance must have registered because now these drills are no longer stressors. He still covers his ears – but no episodes or melt downs. He is starting to make modifications in his world himself – so have hope – all your preperation and reassurance and love – it will all click someday!

  12. OMG!!! I am crying right now as I read this. I just got a call from my son’s teacher the other day asking me how I thought Matthew (my son) would react to the fire alarm going off. I was at a lost for a moment. I had never thought about “the fire alarm” What was I too say? I made a suggestion to the teacher…my suggestion was for them to use the heavy duty ear muffs that construction workers would wear. My thought was that with the ear muffs he would still be able to hear the fire alarm and go through the drill with the rest of the children. The fire drill has not happened yet. I will take your advice, give him notice in advance, but not too much in advance and explain to him the proceedure that will take place. I will also draw a picture diagrame numbered in sequence for the steps that he will need to follow. Matthew does very well with pictures.
    I want to thank you for this article, it ment so much to me.
    Sarah and Matthew

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