Third time's a charm...and I may be beyond 3. I think the first time I got a call from Connor's school secretary I was in the bathtub at home. It rang 3 times, which is the threshold before it's sent to voice mail. Then a little while later it rang again.
I'm funny about a ringing phone. I just can't bring myself to run for one. I reason that answering machines have removed that obligation.
This has always been a sore spot between Gary and me. I think he believes that the person calling knows that I have chosen to not run for the phone, and has hurt feelings.
So my first strike was that day when I was in the bath and the phone rang and I didn't answer. That would be the day that Connor was actually feverish at school. Having called twice at my house (and by the time I was out of the tub I'd forgotten that the phone had rung and so had not checked for messages) the school secretary called Gary at work. He went and got Connor and brought him home.
Strike two was last year when I took the boys to a matinee after school. Connor bought two packages of Red Vines and ate them both. Late that night I woke to retching and a lake of red in front of the downstairs toilet (why can't they put it where it's supposed to go?). When it was time to get up he seemed fine, noisy and active as usual, so I sent him to school.
Later that day I got a call. He wasn't feeling well and would I come and get him?
As we were walking out to the car he said he'd told the school secretary that he'd thrown up in the wee hours and she exclaimed, "But you're supposed to wait 24 hrs after vomiting to return to school!"
Great. That's a qualifier for loser mom; sending my sick kid to school to infect everyone else.
Worse, now Connor knows that there's a 24 hr policy for a cough or a sneeze, and he can hold public humiliation over my head as leverage next time he doesn't feel like school.
There were a few other minor events that add to the impression: calls from the school lunchroom lady to tell me his lunch account is delinquent. The kid had the check--it was in his pack. He just kept forgetting to get it out and take it in to the lunchroom.
I think I put the final nail in the coffin on Tuesday.
Scott didn't have school at all Monday and Tuesday. The teachers were preparing their report cards or something like that. (I haven't seen a report card.) I'd made them appointments with their opthamologist months in advance for Tuesday. I had it on the calendar. Monday I was at Connor's school to read with one of his classmates, and I asked the school secretary if they needed written notice in advance of my coming to get him out of school early. She said I only needed to come and they'd call the classroom.
Tuesday morning as he walked out to the bus I told him that I'd be there to get him around 2:15. Then I set about to entertain Scott. I'd promised him if we culled some of the toys he no longer uses we could take them to a resale store and I'd give him whatever amount they bought them for. The toys had been in the van in boxes for months. We hadn't put the last row of seats in because there was no room. Gary had been complaining. Tuesday seemed like the day to finally get it taken care of.
Part of my reluctance was that I'd lost the print-out I'd made of consignment stores. Also, I dimly remembered that only one of those stores paid cash for items as opposed to in-store trade, but I couldn't remember its name. It's taken months to work up the motivation to re-invent the wheel and find the name and address of the store. I did that while I waited for Scott to wake up.
As I repacked the stuff and did an informal inventory I realized a great deal of the bulk was in VHS videos. I tried calling the store to see if they even accepted the cartridges and got their voice mail saying to call back during regular hours. I really didn't want to have to pack up these videocassettes if they weren't going to take them, so I wanted to talk to them first. Since Gary's working from home now I had to wait for him to get off the line. That delayed me another 20 minutes; when I reached them I spoke to a young woman who said they would take the movies.
So we were off. I took the dog too thinking we could make a loop and stop by the Petsmart and get his toenails clipped. I have clippers, but his nails are black, his feet sensitive, and once I drew blood. So I've lost my nerve and he's lost confidence in me.
Now there was a little bit of anxiety about taking the dog because he's been having diarrhea again. I took him to the vet right after the first of the year with the same problem--off his food, loose stools, general pitifulness. I feared the worst since the last dog that had gone off her food had had a fatal cancer. The vet pronounced him healthy but for an overgrowth of certain intestinal flora that had overwhelmed other intestinal flora. He gave me an anti-biotic and some pro-biotic powder, and we left the office $250 poorer. Within a few days he'd seemed healthy again. Then we switched his food to a cheaper Cost-co brand. Last week he went off his food again and the bowel stuff started again. He's controlled himself well and not had any accidents in the house, but I was nervous about the car. So I really hoped we wouldn't be too long in the resale shop.
We had 5 bags of stuff to schlep about a block. Scott was a pretty good sport about it. When we walked in the sales person asked if I'd been the one to call about the videos. She was so sorry but she had misspoken when she said they took them...they only take DVD's. A customer in the store said she thought another resale store close by might accept them. In the meantime the owner went through the bags, removed about a 15th of it and paid me $7. Back to the car we schlepped. I took the dog for a short walk just in case he was uncomfortable, then we drove over to the other place. They wanted 20 minutes to look through the bags we carried in. So Scott, who really doesn't like walks much, and the dog, who adores walks, took a little tour through that neighborhood. I'd briefly lived in a house close by when I first moved to Portland 30 years ago and took Scott by to see.
When we returned they had taken one item and gave me $3 for it.
Well, that was an hour and a half well spent. Hardly worth the gas, the time, and the trepidation about the dog's bowels. I schlepped the bags back out to the van and we set off for the Petsmart.
We left the freeway as the news came on. Admiral Mike Mullen was recommending an end to Don't Ask Don't Tell. The last thing I heard him say was that it was wrong to deny people the opportunity to serve their country on the basis of "who they are" when I saw a motorcycle cop ahead of me. He was traveling on a cross street from my left and his lights were on. By the time I saw him it was too late to slow down so he could pull out ahead of me. I was in the left hand lane so there wasn't any place to pull over so he could go around. It wasn't until I moved into a left hand turn lane for the Petsmart lot that I realized I was his prey. He followed me right in. Had clocked me going too fast in a 35 mph zone. I'm not in this area very often and hadn't seen the speed zone signs, and could swear I was at the same speed as the other cars around me. He told me my driving record was good, so maybe I could qualify for an online traffic school. If I did they would dismiss the ticket and it wouldn't go on my record, though I would have to pay some fee associated with taking the class. I have to go in to the municipal court in person to arrange it.
Got the mutt's nails trimmed. Home. Before going inside I let him wander a bit in our back yard in case he had to go, when my cell phone rang. I saw that it was the school calling and that it was nearly 3:00. I wondered if Connor was sick and tried to answer, hitting the hold button instead. Lost the call. Went inside and called the school. The secretary answered, and I asked if they'd just tried to call. She said that Connor was in the office, had been there for the past 45 minutes and was insisting that I was supposed to pick him up for some kind of doctor's appointment? When I gasped she said, "Did you forget?" What could I say, but "ohmygoshyes". She said, "Well, I scolded Connor. I told him that he's supposed to stay in class and we call him when you arrive, but he was so sure you were going to be here...and the trouble is, he missed his music class!" It was 2:50, the time that we were supposed to have been at the opthamologist's office, so I surrendered any possibility of making the appointment. Lamely I told her to tell him to just ride the bus home as usual. Then got on the phone to make my mea culpas to the dr.
The woman I spoke with was very kind and understanding, even without me telling her the whole story. She merely coded us as a canceled appointment, instead of a missed, which would have meant a fee. Then we rescheduled for a month hence.
But my reputation is sealed, I think. I am, and always will be a Deadbeat Mom. Or if nothing else, a poster child for the drawbacks of being a middle-aged mother.
And I still have to go to the municipal court and clean up the ticket.