Dear Terrorist



Dear Terrorist,

I imagine you’re delighted with this week’s warning from the U.S. embassy that has made its way across the Middle East. Your anonymous posting on an extremist website calling for the execution of American teachers certainly cast a wide net. As the mother of children at an American school, I have to say I did take it a little personally, and being both a Capricorn and a stickler for details, I wondered if you could perhaps give me a little more information.

When you say American teachers, I wonder, how will you tell you’ve got the right ones? I put myself in your shoes last night when I went to the parent/teacher night (because that’s what you do when there’s a terrorist threat against American teachers; you go and spend three and a half hours in an American school filled with American teachers). I wondered how it might look to you as you approached our school. What would go through your mind. Would you care about the African security guards placed around the gate, would you see their smiles, think about their families and understand that they play no role in your war?

Would you wonder about our facilities? Would you notice the playground, funded by volunteer hours of hotdog lunches, bake sales and donations. Would you see the peace signs that the children have painted – each dove hand painted with a child’s expression of peace and what it means to them? Would you hear the accents from Pakistan to Palestine, Belgium to Beirut – 76 different nations, religions and beliefs all playing on the one school oval. Would you consider the lives of the teachers, ask yourself why they were here, what drew them to wanting to teach in such an environment?

The teachers will be easy to find; they’re always there. They’re the ones volunteering to coach baseball, running after school math programs, building robotic lego projects, and painting the sets for school plays. They take on extra music lessons, they wait for the last child to be collected, and pick up that stray bit of paper out on the field. Don’t be fooled though; they’re not all American. Our faculty,like our children come from all nations, my suggestion would be to shout out “Soccer or Football? Or Cookies or Biscuits?”  You’ll soon distinguish the Americans from the Brits, South Africans and Aussies. Perhaps ask the Kiwis to count to six?

I imagine you’ll be thrilled with the news that my children asked about you last night. They wanted to know who you were and why you wanted to kill their teachers. We talked about lock down procedures and they asked what would happen if you came to visit while they were waiting for me at the gates or the school cafeteria. We spoke of our family password, and where we would run to, where I could find them if they had to leave the school. The second little traveller thought this built for a good case on why she should have an iPhone, I suggested that even a terrorist attack wouldn’t warrant an iPhone for a 12 year old.  We talked of who you are and if you had a family or children. We decided that you were probably a really nice person and that you were just angry and frustrated.

Although you never came up in conversation, you’ll be happy to know that I thought of you last night as I made my way through my children’s parent/teacher conferences. As I rushed from room to room, listening to teacher after teacher talk about my child and what it was that they enjoyed the most about them. I joined in with the shaking of heads over the lack of capitalisation and misuse of punctuation while marvelling at the brilliance of their story telling. I thought about the words of my children as I looked at their teachers who’d already put in a full days work, sitting at 7 o’clock at night with a paper cup of instant coffee in front of them  – why do they want to kill our teachers?

I didn’t have an answer.

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