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”.
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.