• When School Calls

    Ruminations from the harried but always humorous “Motherhood in NYC” blogger.


    Illustration by Justin Winslow

    Let me just tell you this right now to save you the suspense: When you get a call from your kid’s school, it’s never good news.

    It’s never “the principal and the director were just talking about how you’re the best mom in the whole school and we were wondering if you would mind talking to the other moms so that they could be more like you,” or “your child is doing too much homework and should be in a Ph.D. program.”

    It’s always a “she has lice” or “he has a fever” or “all your children are vomiting.”

    That’s why when I see the school’s number pop up on my cell phone, my stomach sinks like the Titanic, because they are both approximately the same size. But that’s another story.

    So a few weeks ago, I get a call from the school, and the nurse tells me that my son was hit with a ball in the eye and that he’s in pain.

    And I’m thinking: ball, eye, pain, but also I still have work to do and these bon bons aren’t going to eat themselves. So I ask to talk to him and he says yes, it hurts, and also stings, although the stinging may be the same as the hurting and it doesn’t look like I’ll be able to do homework tonight. Except he doesn’t say “ha ha” after he says the look so I can tell that he’s uncomfortable.

    So I tell him that I’m busy and that this isn’t a good time for an injury, but that I’ll try to reach his sister and she can pick him up in about an hour.

    And he says an hour? And I can sort of hear a gasp in the background and I say, yes, an hour, maybe 57 minutes because what am I, a professional time estimator?

    Then we hang up and I resume my game of Solitaire. Seriously, why is that stuff so addictive? So stupid and addictive! But how fun is it when you win and those cards bounce around your screen? So rewarding!

    Anyway, we hang up and then I think. Huh. Hit in the eye. What if it’s bad? Bad as in not good?

    So I call back the school and say “I’m on my way” and the woman on the phone says “oh, good, because usually the swelling goes down pretty quickly, but it’s not in this case.” And as soon as she says that, I think two things: 1. Why didn’t she say so when she called? and 2. OMG, MY BABY!

    I basically shoot myself out of a cannon to get to school, and the twenty minutes it takes me to get there are filled with images of my son’s eye hanging on by a thread out of its socket (I’m not an ophthalmologist but this seems accurate) so I prepare myself for whatever gross shit may be waiting for me.

    And then I get to school and I see him sitting there and I look at him and there’s no little jar with his eye in it on his lap, so I am relieved, and then I look at him some more and turn to the woman Minding the Injured and ask “which eye is it?” Because I can’t tell. And she points to the right eye and says, “See the swelling?” and I look at it again and maybe, if I squint and tilt my head to the side, I can see the swelling. But I really can’t.

    But I am so relieved and happy that he is ok and I take him to the doctor just to have it checked out and she says that I should keep an eye (!) on him to make sure he’s not passing out or throwing up or speaking in tongues or joining the GOP and that he should probably not do too much homework tonight.

    So all’s well that ends well, of course. And the day ends with my feeling very, very relieved and my son feeling very, very much like not doing his homework. But the whole incident just underscores my original point. Whenever the school calls, it’s never good news. It’s probably best to block the number.

    Marinka lives in the West Village with her husband, two children, and cat. She writes “Motherhood in NYC” about her kids and family, current events, and the art and science of blogging. When not busy referring to herself in the third person, Marinka dispenses fantastic, life-saving advice as one of The Mouthy Housewives.