Thursday, November 29, 2007

That's Not What 911 Is For, Kiddo


Very often, I think I've had a long, hard day until I talk to my wife. Then I find out that SHE has had a hard day.

Take today, for instance.

Work was of course hectic and exhausting. She's understaffed and doing the work of several people. No surprise there; that's what she's famous for. That's why they pay her the big . . . well, anyway, that's normal.

Her first inkling that today would be worse than usual was when she picked up the baby and pulled out in front of the babysitter's house to wait for the boys' school bus to arrive. It did not arrive. She waited some more, and then yet more, and still there was no cheerful yellow bus growling along the street to spill happy pups into her lap. That can't be good, right?
While she waited, she called the school. She called every school number she had, but nobody was there to answer any of the phones. She began to worry. She left the babysitter's house and headed back to ours.
We live a few miles from the babysitter's house, but only about 5-10 minutes' walk from the school. The boys could actually walk to school every day, if only we could trust them alone in the house for an hour after I left for school each morning. But we have the Hyena rule in my house; if I wouldn't trust two wild Hyenas to do something alone, then there's no way I can trust those boys to do it, either, and for similar reasons.

So mama bear pulled into the driveway to find, to her relief, Kane standing in the driveway. With the telephone.
"Here, mom," he said mildly as he held the phone out to her, "This lady wants to talk to you." Still processing, she took the phone and put it to her ear while asking him where his brother was.

"Ma'am, this is Macoupin County 911, we're calling back because we had a hangup from this number. What is your name and address?"

The boys had signed up to help set up band stands after school. Apparently they did mention it to mama bear before I got home from meetings last night, but it must have been en passant. Since they were staying late, they couldn't ride the bus, so they needed mom to pick them up from school. I don't get out of school early enough to do that, but she does--IF she knows she's supposed to do it! Technically, she's allowed to leave school that early, but it means she doesn't have time to set up the room for the next day.
In any case, the boys found themselves standing around the empty school yard and increasingly concerned that mom might not be coming. They had no phone, something we're rethinking now, but they say they didn't know our cell numbers anyway. So they did the logical thing; they set off to walk home. Ten minutes later they were at our house, which is not bad when you consider that they had to walk past the park with the biggest playground and a skate park to get here. But when they got home, there were still no parents in sight. This was perplexing and unusual; what to do?

Kane decided that the simplest solution was to call 911 and report that his parents were missing. He inquired as to whether we had been involved in car accidents. When the nice lady said something about an emergency line, he panicked and hung up on her. Problem solved!
When the 911 lady called back, he was beginning to think he might be in trouble, but then MOM pulled into the drive and it became clear what must be done: let mom handle it!
(He's watched me for years and obviously learned my approach to problem solving.)

In the end, we all got the chance to be scared with no permanent harm done. The boys now have their little cards with every phone number they could ever need. They know they have permission to walk home if anything like this ever happens again, and their bus driver will no longer allow them to skip riding the bus home unless they have a signed note from us. I actually think they handled this incident pretty well aside from the 911 call. Momma's beating herself up, but I'd pay good money for a recording of the conversation where they claim they "told her all about" staying after school and asked for a ride. They certainly could be telling the truth, but, you know, fool me 1,000 times, shame on me, amirite?


Medic61 said...

I distinctly remember babysitting a kid who did something like this...
And being a kid who was left at the local BP station because her father's beeper was set for 3am, not 3pm. Needless to say, I got the phone-number-index-card as well!
Good post :)

Anonymous said...