Then this happens…
It’s Thursday, 10:53 AM. I teach at 11 AM. I’m putting one last finishing touch on my notes. My phone is to my left, sitting on my desk. I see it light up, then it rings. I look. The call is from the Middle School. I automatically get nervous and anxious, my stomach in a knot. For anyone who has a child with difficulties at school – the phone call generally makes us want to vomit.
I pick up the phone – slide the green circle.
“Is this Nikki?”
“This is Mrs. O from the Middle School.”
Pause. (Mrs. O. is the Orchestra teacher – is this about Estelle? That’s bizarre.)
“Is this a good time?”
“Yes.” (It actually isn’t- my class is down the hall and on the second floor, but it’s a call from the school so my students will just have to wait).
“First, there is nothing wrong.”
Unpause, breathe. BLESS this woman’s heart – she gets the fear, panic, and anxiety that comes with a call from school.
“Oh thank goodness…thank you so much.”
“Yesterday I was on bus duty…
Pause. Here it comes…here comes the boom.
…and Tucker and Estelle’s bus did not show up. I know just enough about Tucker to know that a routine change could be a very big deal. So, I talked with him and Estelle and let them know they could ride a different bus to the High School and then ‘catch’ a bus home. He was very anxious and
Pause. Now it’s coming – what did he do? Scream? Start to cry? Lash out at someone?
….he wanted to walk to the High School. I explained to him there just wasn’t enough time and that he should get on this bus that will take him to the High School, then he can just transfer buses.
Pause. Now it’s really coming. Change in routine? Someone that’s a ‘stranger’ trying to fix it with unknown circumstances? Here it comes…
…. I just explained it very calmly and thoroughly. I wanted them to know that it’s always an option and I thought you could talk with him about that at home to reinforce that idea?”
Pause…this time for silent tears. Hold it together…come on….hold it together….
“Thank you so much – you have no idea how much I appreciate this call.”
“Well, I wanted to call you yesterday, but I got busy. I just had a moment where I sat down and realized I didn’t get to it yesterday, so I wanted to make sure I got to it before something else came up. I wanted you to know what happened after school yesterday. Tucker did get on the bus and wouldn’t sit down…
Pause…here it comes. I KNEW it!!! I can feel it….the shame, the frustration that someone else experienced. Deep breath.
…The bus driver was great – and I just reassured him that everything would be okay. I told him, ‘Tucker this bus will take you to the High School and then you can get on your next bus. it will be fine, I promise. Just sit and relax…it will be okay.’ So, I was just checking in and hoping that everything turned out okay. I just know that for other kiddos it’s worrisome, so for Tucker it was probably quite worrisome.”
Pause. The silent tears are in full flow. Catch my breath.
I expressed my sincerest appreciation to her. I expressed how thankful I was that she didn’t say “Tucker, just sit down!” That she used a kind voice that expressed concern and compassion and comfort. She was the best version of herself…especially in that moment.
Pause. Collect yourself before class…come on…take a breath.
This is why I write.
This is why I advocate.
This is why I talk.
Pause for growth. Pause for reflection.
Yesterday’s tears? Frustration.
Today’s tears? Relief.