Because you won’t have to fill out paperwork like this when you send your daughter to preschool.
This is one of about five pages in MJ’s preschool registration packet that are devoted to earthquake preparedness. This particular form is a checklist for the “earthquake backpack” I am required to bring to school on MJ’s very first day. It will be stored there for as long as she attends the school, packed with necessities for three days. Three days! It is both terrifying, deeply upsetting and, unfortunately, totally necessary. The other forms are equally so. One discusses next of kin, another “reunification points,” another gives emergency medical treatment permission.
But it’s the letter I’m supposed to write her (see above) that is killing me. The one that goes in her backpack, in a plastic bag, along with a family picture and a picture of our pet. Ugh! What the hell am I supposed to say? “Um, dearest daughter, if you’re reading this — even though you can’t read — there has been a cataclysmic earthquake and you are now living out of an Elmo backpack. We are in a fissure somewhere. Here are some photographs. Please don’t be scared.”
Sorry. I don’t mean to make light of it. But what else can you do? The whole prospect just sickens me. And as for this letter? I can’t do it. At least not without weeping, or screaming, or going into a full-on panic attack. The idea of MJ finding herself in this situation is enough to get me looking for jobs in Des Moines. I know, I know. Tornadoes. But at least you can see those coming.
Earthquakes? All you can do is pack a bag. And pray like hell that no one ever has to use it.