Wheeewwww. . . Pheeewwwwww. . . Sigh. . Breathing again over here. I just had a very disturbing experience for which I'm now on the other side of and enjoying the relief of it all. Phew. Still glad to be breathing.
It all started when I dropped little Jimmy off at school this morning and headed off to the gym and to run some errands with Kyla. As I was coming home around 11:30, the thought actually crossed my mind that his school does not have either my husband's or my own new cell phone numbers. I thought of all the reasons both simple and complex for which they'd need to contact me during the day, and fully had in mind to promptly call the school just as soon as I got home. When I did arrive home I saw a message flashing on the machine. Checking it, I was utterly horrified to hear it was the Dean of Students at his school. "Calling to speak to the parents or guardian of James Britton. If you could please give me a call at your earliest convenience." Oh. my. gosh. I of course immediately called back and was forced to simply leave a message. . . Just let the gravity of that sink in for a moment. . . I was having visions of horror and shame and fear - nightmares really, and I was left to leave a message.
I put Kyla down for her nap, and I showered as quickly as is humanly possible (not wanting to miss the phone call). I checked my emails ever so briefly and thoughtlessly. And then I stewed. I checked the school schedule online to see when the kids would have their lunch so I could call again, and if I couldn't speak to the dean I could at least speak to his teacher to find out what had happened.
So while waiting, thoughts kept overtaking my mind - literally hijacking my brain. Bad thoughts. Sinister thoughts. I pictured little Jimmy having been sitting in the dean's office for the last four hours while the dean glared at him for his baffling behavior and wondering why in the heck James' parents were so inept at returning a simple phone call - surely this was the cause of James' behavior today. . .
I envisioned Jimmy shoving other innocent children. I pictured him sitting in his desk with his arms crossed obstinately refusing to do any work. I saw him telling off his teachers. I imagined him back-talking the dean. And then my thoughts took a turn. What if he had been the victim? What if some other kids had bullied him? What if he had been injured? What if he had been life-flighted to the nearest hospital? I googled his school to see if any breaking news clips showed up (fortunately there weren't any). And then just as quickly as it had come on, I snapped out that one. Obviously the dean wouldn't be calling me if that was the situation - probably I would have heard from his teacher, and the hospital, and the principal. . ya, there'd be more than one message on my machine if anything really terrible had happened.
So I returned to my stewing over Jimmy's behavior. I tried to think of good punishments for the sort of behavior that would elicit a call from the Dean of Students. He'd be cleaning the bathroom and sweeping the porch; he'd be doing dishes and fixing meals too for that matter. Still, I couldn't help but feel my attempts at more serious punishments would go unnoticed. I remembered back to the days of my own elementary school. There were children who were notoriously naughty (at least for that time) - kids who knew the principal a little too well or who had even been sent home on occasion. I tried to think of what these mothers did to encourage their children to behave, and alas, I could think of nothing truly special or notable. Ya, the mom's of the *naughty* kids from elementary school had finally earned my sympathy.
Finally it was lunch time at Jimmy's school (emm. . . yes, this was actually only ten minutes later), so I called back. Much to my relief and dismay, the dean picked up. "Oh, ya. Hang on just a minute." She seemed so casual as she placed me on hold - like he was just one of a list of offenders for the day, and she needed to pull his file to remember exactly what he had done to earn himself a trip to the office. "Yes, we're showing five excused absences and five unexcused absences for James for the month of October." Silence. My heart began beating again much the way most other living beings does, and I simultaneously realized how completely and utterly wrong I had been in all my assumptions. I casually explained how he had missed five days for the flu, and five days for our single family vacation planned for the last year, and how I had worked it out with his teacher and all his work had been completed. And that was it. "OK. Thank you. I completely understand." And that was it. . .
Yes, I know that mother's tend to worry, and I know that I in particular have an extraordinarily overactive imagination; but the bottom line is this: you know what they say about people who assume. . .