After a hectic weekend, I had every intention of settling in this week with a bucket of caffeine and getting some work done. Such is the joy of freelance writing, you can stagger your working hours around other commitments although there is a constant rejuggling required when life gets in the way. I discovered this the hard way on Tuesday.
You see on Tuesday, I got the Phone Call. All parents of school-aged children know about the Phone Call. Generally it’s a school office staff member or teacher who calls and hopefully greets you with “Don’t panic!” I like to categorise and colour-code these calls, depending on severity, much like the terror threat or bushfire warnings.
Code Green is a popular one around here. It matches the colour your child is when you arrive to collect them. Code green signifies that your child who wasn’t sick this morning has come down with a Potentially Infectious Virus and must be quarantined immediately. Having a son who can’t differentiate between hunger and the bubonic plague means I have had that call a few times over the years, but I can hardly tell the secretary to “give the kid a sandwich for Pete’s sake”. Fair enough too. If I were a teacher being coughed, sneezed and occasionally even vomited on by someone else’s children, I’d be donning a surgical mask and handing the little blighters to their parents with a pair of long-handled tongs.
And then there is the Code Electric Blue (for DRAMA!). Because I live almost adjacent to our school, I don’t mind these so much. There’s a whole feelgood Disney movie vibe about running across to the school with netball shoes because an excited child has phoned to say they have had a last-second call up off the bench to the School Team. Or organising someone to dash out and check the busstop where a musical instrument has been misplaced. And I really didn’t mind running a second set of clothes up to a kindergartner who had fallen into a puddle. Mummy Saves the Day!
But Tuesday was the Code Red of school calls. “Your son has fallen in the playground and injured his arm. Can you come straight away?”. All thought of work left my mind, as I raced across to the school. So much for a calming parental presence, as I appeared wild-eyed in the sick-bay door wearing what my grandmother would have kindly called a “house dress”, thongs and hair in a frizzy top-knot. Don’t judge me! Writers are known for their comfort dressing, I’m told. Even Jo March had her “scribbling suit”. Thankfully teachers and school office staff know their stuff and my white-faced, trembling little boy with a broken wing was well looked after while I quickly gathered my wits about me. His arm had been expertly bandaged, I was given all the pertinent details about how he had fallen so I could correctly advise the hospital(he wants me to tell you he fell off a llama, but he tripped over a tree root and quite possibly his own feet) and I was even accompanied along the short walk home in case he got woozy and I needed assistance.
A trip to emergency, x-rays and a plaster cast later, I am once again grateful to the wonderful people who spend their days looking after our kids. I say it so often, but it bears repeating: Schools are so much more than we give them credit for.