Thursday, 22 May 2014

Perfectly reasonable and ordinary

I realised something today, which is probably completely obvious to everyone else, and while I kind of knew it, I hadn't actually been confronted with it before in quite that way.

Confused yet?

This is me, this morning, having despatched various children to various schools complete with sunscreen and pencils and lunch boxes.

I was sat at home, drinking a cup of tea before I got on with watching the TV cleaning the bathroom, and my phone went.  I didn't recognise the number but it was local, so I was relatively sure I hadn't won the Nigerian lottery or inherited another Portuguese villa (honestly, the number of my relatives that die and leave me property and/or huge amounts of money in bank accounts abroad!).

Picked the phone up (as you do) and said 'hello?' (as you do), in that slightly confused way when you're thinking it can't possibly be for me, they must have rung me by accident.  Or maybe I've been injured in an accident that wasn't my fault...

Hi, is that Noah's mum?

I sucked air into my suddenly deflated lungs,
waiting for what was coming next, 
then realised I hadn't answered the 
question...Yes I said slowly and
deliberately as I exhaled

Noah James' mum?

Yes! I called as I tried to hold the
 phone to my ear and get up
 off the sofa (it's really very
squishy, and tries to eat you)


Yes! I shouted again as the guy on the 
other end has the cheek to not respond 
within half a second...


Oh my god yes I shrieked
 as he still didn't answer

Erm, this is Mr Lambchop... 
(names changed to protect the 
innocent)...from Groundhog School 
(love that film)...

Yeeeeees I called out having put the phone 
on the floor on speaker while I slip my 
shoes on...and it was only at this point that I wondered 
whether he was so hesitant because he thought 
he'd caught me mid-climax...

Erm, it's about Noah... 
And he trailed off - this must be worse 
than I thought if he isn't even
sure what to say...

Okay I shouted towards the pocket 
I'd shoved the phone into while I 
grabbed a change of clothes for Noah, 
and pyjamas and dressing gown
 just in case...

He, ahem, he's ... he's in 
the office with me at the 

Yes? I continued to direct my voice 
towards the back pocket of my jeans, 
giggling for just a second as I realised that 
he's almost talking out of my arse 
instead of the usual one (his own), 
snatched my grab bag and 
opened the front door

Well, you see, Noah asked
if I could give you a ring, so I...
erm I'm giving you a ring...

Yes I shouted as I almost tripped over the cat,
who was making for the kitchen as fast as her little
 legs would carry her, having apparently heard a
rumour that for once she won't get thrown
out of the window for eating the dog food,
 as I was clearly distracted by something
 that was not food related, and thus utterly
 irrelevant to her

Front door closed, and then I was on the end of the drive with two rucksacks wanting this guy to get off the fucking phone so I can ring a taxi to take me to the hospital

He erm, he forgot it was 
erm, cricket - cricket club today, 
so he wanted me to ask you if 
he can go.  What - what do 
you think?

Cricket club.  Cricket club.  Cricket club.
I took a deep breath in and concentrated
 on expelling it fully, as I tried to work out what
 I was going to say to Mr Lambchop.  Before I
 had time to finish putting together my
 outraged response for him scaring the
 living daylights out of me,
 I had an epiphany.

He hadn't scared me.
  He had made a perfectly reasonable ordinary
phone call.  It was my fear, my reaction, that
was ridiculously over the top
 - I had scared myself.

I finished off the perfectly reasonable ordinary
conversation as I walked back down the
drive, then as I opened the front door
 the damn cat
almost tripped me again as she made
 a bolt for freedom.

Most people probably don't keep a grab bag in their cupboard, complete with pyjamas, fresh clothes, toiletries, book, notebook, paracetamol, pens, a pack of biscuits, some cash and a phone charger.  Not unless they are fourteen years old and planning to run away from home.

But we do.

Smiler has a grab bag too, packed with his essentials - clothes, pads, books, meds, emergency meds, liquid feeds, wipes, gauze, a copy of his hospital passport, mp3 player / spare batteries / chunky puffy padded headphones.

This time - this call - it wasn't about Smiler.

But it was a phone call from a school - a perfectly reasonable ordinary mainstream typical school.

It turns out that if I hear school and it isn't immediately in the very same breath followed by he's fine, my parent-carer-controlling-the-crisis head takes over and I'm running on autopilot.

So my big epiphany today was that some (possibly even most) calls that parents answer from their kids schools are about forgotten lunchboxes, or PE kits, or filling in a form.  Most of these calls will not require anyone to stop drop and roll.  Most families don't work like that, simply because they don't need to.

But my family, the we and that us, we're put together a bit differently - we work a bit differently, because we have to to stay in one piece.  The routines and habits that developed out of necessity to ensure that life runs smoothly for Smiler have skewed my world view - my expectations of a given situation, my reactions to the circumstances around me.

And also, I can get sorted and out of the house pretty damn quickly when I need to.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ ~ ~


  1. When I worked in a nursery, we started every call with don't worry he's fine. Even if actually we were calling them to come in. You're not the only one who reacts that way to any school phone call.

    1. Sounds like a good idea! Glad it's not only me that has overreacted like that!

  2. You're not the only one who reacts like that to a school phone call honestly! I love your description and although it's clearly an extremely stressful state of day to day you live with, I love your approach to it. I liken myself sometimes to living with barely suppressed anxiety-exhausting and often (for me) totally unnecessary. I hope you don't mind me saying that I enjoyed reading this a lot xx

  3. Oh gosh I would have been the same. You were nice to calm down and finish the convo I might not have. If the phone rings and its nursery I can't breathe for Buba as he has deadly allergies times I wont go into holding him thinking he is gone. So I am very quick to think the worse when that phone rings. Lucky nursery always say is this Buba's mother, he is fine but we wanted to ... blah blah. It would be helpful if Mr Lambchop didn't pause so much. Awkward at the best of times. Poor you. And I love that you are so prepared to get out of the house quick. We are the same like that. Glad it wasn't anything serious. Thanks for linking up to Share With Me. #sharewithme


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