The last week of my daughter’s summer camp, the school year is officially days away, and Wednesday was just another day…at first.
Let’s start by saying my daughter’s school doubles as a summer camp. I got beyond lucky with this school because it’s a private school that does before and after school care and has their own summer program. It is such a convenience that it’s nearly unbelievable.
Now, this very small private school only goes through second grade, and at the end of last school year, both myself and the other second grade child’s parents were approached with an opportunity that if we both agreed to keep the kids enrolled, they could open up to third grade in the coming school year. Over the next few weeks we both agreed and by mid-summer a teacher was hired.
On Wednesday I am dropping her off, and I am actually there when they open instead of running a little behind like I usually am. As soon as we open the front door the school director greets us at the door and asks that I come to her office when I get my daughter checked in and into the cafeteria. Instantly I feel like I’m going to be scolded for something. You know that panic feeling when you don’t know what’s happening. After all, nothing good has historically ever come from the dreaded “we need to talk.”
I think my daughter feels how tense I am, because getting her signed in downstairs she insists on being with me when I speak to her. It took quite a bit of convincing for her to just stay in the cafeteria to eat her breakfast.
The walk back to the office at the front felt like it was miles suddenly, but when I get there, I smile and say hello. Miss J is always so nice and smiles back, then sits and says, “I’ve been up all night thinking about how to tell you this.”
My heart stopped and I’m holding my breath not knowing if my daughter had done something really, really bad and if I was about to take a verbal lashing for it. I can’t feel my body so I follow in suit and just sit down. I never expected what I was about to hear.
Miss J then tells me that the new third grade teacher did not show up the day before. I felt the blood rush out of my face and instantly my body gets hot, and I am unable to even speak. She had called the teacher at the end of the day thinking that she had the start dates mixed up, when the teacher tells her that she had taken a job with a county school and that she probably should have called to tell them. You think?!?!?!
This director was on it immediately and had already called another applicant that had turned in a resume after they were fully staffed, and interviewed her that same day. This new applicant needed time to think about it with now just a few days left before school started. Miss J had made copies of my daughters transcripts and handed them over to me now knowing what would happen, but was expecting to get an answer by the end of the day.
My entire ride to work I was having a panic attack. I would call the public school that we were zoned for later in the day and make an appointment for registration the following day. It’s last minute, but I know I can survive that. My fear now is before and after school care. As parents, who we leave our kids with is nothing to bat an eye at. We are entrusting other people with the safety of our defenseless children. I make calls and submit emails to a few of the centers around my house that bus the kids to and from school, and the ones that did get back to me quickly were already full. Of course, school starts on Monday and it is Wednesday.
I seek out a list of in-home providers with the hours I need, which is no easy task. I work a good bit of distance from my home and my schedule is tight, not to mention living in the DC Metropolitan area means that traffic is your enemy on any given day.
On my way to pick my daughter up I get a call that the new teacher had first declined the offer, but the school director entered into negotiations immediately. It must have been good because she wanted to speak with her husband about it, but needed more time so she could talk it over with him. Now the deadline of knowing has been pushed out until 9:00 AM the following day, Thursday, leaving me with two days to get everything figured out.
Getting home that night I am stressed beyond belief and asking one of my neighbors if there is someone down on our side of the neighborhood who does child care, trying desperately to get everything figured out. The entire night I am restless and I wake up on and off the entire night.
The next day, business as usual, I have my appointment at the public school in the afternoon and I spend the morning at my office filling out registration papers. Within minutes of completing the sixteen pages of paperwork and feeling like I’ve developed carpal tunnel syndrome, my phone rings. I completely cut off a conversation with a colleague at the office, take my phone and walk away to answer.
I’m holding my breath again. I hear, “I’m calling with fabulous news!!!” The only thing I can do is take a deep breath in and let out a sigh. The new teacher has accepted the position and I will not have to struggle and panic for the next whole day about where my child will be going, who will be caring for her and if she’ll be safe.
I cry a little getting off of the phone, not because I am off the hook for last minute arrangements, but for my daughter, who did not have a clue what was going on. Taking her out of her school and throwing her into a strangers home all at the same time with no notice would have been emotionally devastating for her, and something that would have sent her into shock.
I am still breathing in my sighs of relief coming into the weekend and looking forward to a good school year.