Strange Days Indeed
Be thankful, I almost titled this “most peculiar, Mama,” but I didn’t.
There are days . . . and there are days. This was one of those days.
Distance is a problem, I know that, for the singular parent. I had to, in the early days of adjusting to being the only parent in the home, balance the distance and the security of being in familiar surroundings for my kids. The problem with distance, though, is that I have – on a good day – about an hour each way for commute with the crazy traffic and bad drivers in our area. On a good day there’s some minor crisis affecting one child. On a bad day it’s more than one.
This was a bad day. This was one of those days.
Bad days are like thunderstorms. You see the lightning and then you count, waiting to see how close the storm is. I saw the bolts . . . I had really hoped the storm wasn’t so close. I got an email from a colleague from another station. That was the first flash, and I should have seen it.
The subject of the call doesn’t matter, it took me off my guard and threw me off. It wasn’t bad news, just not a call I’d expected.
Then another flash, but I wasn’t counting to hear the distance from the thunder clap. I was in the middle of working, after all.
The call came from another state, my oldest. Nothing that couldn’t be fixed, but a problem that affected my daughter’s ability to register for Spring classes in college. I thought I had another few weeks to buffer that and I was wrong. So I spent a good deal of time fixing a problem of my own creation and financial angst hanging over my head to allow her to register in just a couple days.
Then came the call from the Middle School.
It’s never a good thing to hear “this is the vice-principal of __________ middle school. I need to talk to you about what happened with your son today.” That’s how the voicemail on my cell phone started.
And . . . bang. I didn’t even get a “one” count off in my head.
My son, Noah, is a habitual rule follower. So when I heard “detention” at the end of the voicemail I immediately called home. The flurry of high-speed chipmunk-pitched explanation from my son about kids using webcams to take pictures in the classroom and that he’s in one and that he didn’t do it and that he wanted to tattle but he knew that wasn’t good and that he didn’t do anything . . .
I began to realize why Edward R. Murrow probably kept a bottle of Scotch in his desk.
With prodding, interrogating, and calming of mind I found out that on a scale of 1 to 10, his trouble was less than a 1. He informed me he had to do detention at 2:15, 15 minutes after the bus leaves.
Flash . . . bang.
To my son’s amazing credit he was more worried about the fact that I’d have to leave work early to pick him up from school.
I spoke with his vice-principal who assured me how highly they thought of both my sons . . . and that if my son disputes anything he should take it up with his teacher.
This, by the way, was my solution. He already knew that if he’s responsible and I stood up for him his Dad’s not going to be happy. Not at all. But the onus is on him, now. If he’s even tangentially guilty . . . there will be no discussion with his teacher that alleviates this. If he isn’t . . . he’ll be able to avoid the whole thing. The school was great in that they moved his detention to a time during school hours so he can still take the bus home.
I got home . . . fixed dinner . . . and opened a bottle of wine. One glass would calm me down, I hoped. I tucked them in, cleaned up the kitchen, made lunches, slowly sipping a glass of pinot noir.
As I sighed, my son finished his half-hour of reading and stepped behind me. I turned around . . . and he just gave me a hug, saying “love you, Dad.”
And the calm rushed over me.
Most peculiar, Mama.