On a good day, I view Call Display as a sophisticated technological development that allows me to avoid annoying telemarketers or my mother-in-law.   However, when I see my one of my kids’ schools come up on my call display, there is a shortness of breath, a cold sweat, nausea, light-headedness, and general discomfort in the centre of my chest.  If you have also noticed that these are the warning signs of a heart attack, then you and I are drinking from the same glass of wine.

Do you remember when there was a time when there was no Call Display?  I do – and at this point I feel the need to point out that caller ID was only instituted by most telephone companies in the ‘90’s, okay?   I remember running for the phone so that my mom didn’t get to it first prompting a million questions about my social life and another million comments about my friends’ appalling lack of proper telephone etiquette.  Ah yes, the good ol’ days.  There was only one phone in the house and it was attached to the wall, a far cry from the more contemporary scene in which no one answers the phone because,  a) anyone I want to talk to would call me on my cell phone, or, b) I couldn’t find the phone, which launches mama into her butt-up-in-your-face performance of digging a popcorn kernel-encrusted phone out from under the family room couch cushions.

However, if your reaction to the school’s phone number coming up on your call display is slowly drifting from the “Oh my God! Oh my God!  Oh my God! What happened?! Oh my God! Is he ok?!” – type reaction …

to the …

“Uh-oh…this cannot be good.”- type reaction.

Then you and I are sharing the same bottle of wine.

Either way, I usually pause briefly to wonder if I should let it go to voice mail, then take a deep breath and answer it anyway.

Gone are days

    • of the nursery school director calling me to inform me that Junior’s extra supply of potty-training pants was running a little low.
    •  of the kindergarten teacher calling me to request my artistic talents for the annual Christmas pageant.
    •  of the primary school teacher calling me to inform me we were the proud parents of a Public Speaking Champion.

    Why are these days gone?  Because they’ve been replaced with the words, “I’ve suspended “so-and-so”  for “such-and-such”.  I’m telling you right now  my patience at preserving their anonymity for fear of contravening the Young Offenders Act is really wearing thin and I SWEAR I’m going to start using their real names!  Not that it matters – they don’t read my blog anyway unless I write something about bacon.

When you consider what some of my high school teacher friends have to put up with from their students these days, you gotta figure that a call from a high school principal is just one step closer to a gift-wrapped shirt, standard- issue, monogrammed with a 10 digit-number.

I never got in trouble when I was growing up (Shh! Work with me!); not with the law, not with any teacher and certainly not with any school principal – unless you bring up that time in grade 6 when I faked sick to stay home and watch The Bay City Rollers on The Richard Dawson Show and my mom ratted out on me (honestly, could we not have just kept that in the family?).  I may have been a smidge deceptive but any danger of my deviating from the set path of perfection was governed by the sheer terror of my parents’ punishment, which was infinitely more fearsome than whatever the Principal could possibly impose.  Can it be I am just too soft on my kids?   I have already tried locking them away and forbidding them any human contact whatsoever but that only serves to torture me!

Sadly, I was a little overdrawn at the Bank of Compassion  when my daughter relayed to me her tragic “Principal’s Office” story to me yesterday.  She was angry, accusatory, critical, shamed, remorseful, frightened, repentant and sad, all in a span of 15 minutes.  When all was said and done and moistened (as in my shoulder), the only thing left to say was, “You know better”.

Does she?

Do they?

I hope so.  We shall see what penalty her principal shall impose, because  I actually have not yet entirely ruled out locking her away and forbidding her any human contact.


I’ve said it before:  sarcasm  and chardonnay are gonna get me through the teenage years.

And if they don’t help, I happen to know a really good cardiac surgeon.

22 Responses to When the Principal calls: A love-hate relationship with Call Display

  • I had so many of these calls I could probably write a book about them – I may one day! They sure never get any easier though. One time I went to the school to speak face to face with the Principal and asked if everything we covered in our chat could be kept completely confidential. I don’t think I was even off the school premises before he called my daughter in to discuss everything we had said, leading to an extremely tense and volatile situation at home. I’m so glad I don’t have to deal with such nonsense anymore!

    • That’s awful that the Principal betrayed the confidence and not one of your kids (y’know – the way it usually goes!). I just find it such a frustration and though I know it’s THEY’RE doing; THEY”RE decisions, I can’t help but feel guilty sometimes 🙁
      Thanks for sharing your perspective !

  • I enjoyed your post! I’m a middle school teacher, and I hate MAKING those calls! I usually email first…it takes the edge off. New follower from She Writes.

    • Hi MamaWolfe – thanks for stopping by! I appreciate hearing your perspective too. I admit most of the teachers and principals I’ve dealt with have been reasonable and are ever so glad for parental support so I guess we’re all working from the same script!

  • Thanks! This is just what I needed today…to know I am not the only Mom in the world going through teen angst. There are days that I swear I am living with someone else’s child…maybe I am.

    • I’m glad/sorry we could commiserate! Teenagers are a different species altogether aren’t they? If you’re interested, I read a great book by Anthony Wolfe (are you related??) called “I Hate You! Get out of my Life – But first can you take Cheryl and me to the Mall?”. Very good, very practical advice for parents of teenagers! Thanks for dropping in!

  • You make me laugh. To answer your questions, I don’t know if they know. I remember crying into my wine my daughter’s freshman year in high school. She just didn’t understand why school was necessary. That year was hell. I look back on that time as the dark time in our relationship. I was definitely NOT a candidate for mother of the year award. Thus, when she graduated with high marks and got all sort of honors, I figured they were all MINE since that year i earned a grey hairs and took to plucking and dying them away. I think parenting is the toughest gig, ever. I do not think new parents truly think it through.. seriously. You and I need to share a glass wine and wax poetically.

    • I think you’re right about no one really thinking through all that is parenthood. How can you really thought? Everyone goes into parenthood saying, I am SO not going to be like my mother/father; and end up turning out that way anyway. Everyone keeps telling me we’ll all live through this (and so are you!) but sometimes I feel so “Pow! Right in the kisser…”-mad!

  • Its good to know I’m not along in navigating the highs and lows of the teen years! I’m just at the beginning, however, so I’m fastening my seatbelt for the bumpy roads ahead.

    • Yes, Nancy… high and lows! The counter-post to this is of course how wonderfully independent they all are and how grown-up they look. I’ll go through all the angst of the teenage years, only to be crushed by empty-nest syndrome 🙁

  • Sarcasm and Chardonnay will pull you through. That’s a classic. It seems to be working well!

  • I have to say, we must be sharing the same wine supplier, because almost all of what you have here rings true with me as well. The only time I really got in trouble was when Joey Mather kissed me in kindergarten and the teacher threatened to send us to the principal. She retracted when nothing would console my screaming fits of terror. And being a high school teacher, I can certainly attest that something is up with kids these days. And no, that doesn’t make me old for saying that. Because unlike when my parents said it, this time it’s true.

  • Yeah, I remember those years. Thank goddess they’re behind me. Except they’re not. We are just this week working on taking in our 15-year old grandson, who is a nearly perfect kid… …except for the drinking and cutting school and shoplifting parts that just started in the last couple of months. I keep asking myself: should we interfere? Then I remember that I had no help when my kids were young, and one of them is a mess to this day. If someone had stepped in and said, “I can take her and give her constant supervision and put her in a private school where she has counseling and teachers to help her learn to function…”

    Maybe she’d be a healthy person today. Maybe we can make that difference for this (otherwise perfect) kid.

    • Good for you Marlene, for taking on the challenge of helping raise yet another teenager. Despite what they tell me, I KNOW my kids need parametres and consistency – the guardrails on the crazy highway of growing up (‘k I may not always come through with the consistency part!). I know it’s not easy for them either! I’m sure it will make a difference to your grandson and I wish you all the best on this journey!

  • I’m a mom of one who is out of college, but I remember one episode with a teacher who liked my son’s work but not his constant talking and disrupting the classroom. A few commisserative e-mails, and he was back to being a favorite. I think it helped when I invited her for chardonnay and sarcasm. Help the teacher and or principal and it’ll all work out. I couldn’t stop thinking of the sheer numbers of kids she faced every day and how just having one was so difficult for me. Yikes!

    • Thanks for stopping by. I think you’re right. Every time I have had these “discussions” with principals, they always express gratitude for my husband’s and my support. Somehow I take it for granted that we’re working together on raising these kids, but I guess principals and teachers are often challenged by the parents themselves!

    • “Chardonnay and sarcasm.” I love that. It never occurred to me to try that when my kids were little. But I know that teachers sometimes just need to be acknowledged for all that they are doing. They need us to admit it’s not easy, and oh yeah – admit that our kids aren’t perfect.

  • Astra, the sad thing is they don’t know better. That’s why we have to keep 911, the number of the best cardiothoracic surgeon, the number of the best cardiologist, the number of the therapist, and the number of the local liquor store, the one that delivers, on speed dial. I’m convinced that if these kids don’t kill us, we may be immortal after all. Now pass the wine! 🙂

    • Here’s a virtual *clink* of those wine glasses 🙂
      I can hardly afford all the rest so am using this leftover paperbag from the liquour store in case I hyperventilate again!!

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About Astra
Ottawa mom of 3 poking fun at myself, motherhood, and minor hockey! I am steering through life dodging stinky hockey gear and empty wine bottles.
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