Emergency rules, you guys. Our family has them.
I don’t know. Maybe we honed them from necessity during all the times my kids have taken a wall to the head or embedded a sewing needle in the leg or lost a fight with the monkey bars — stitches and surgeries and breaks, oh my — or maybe we developed them because I’ve always been a freaker who can’t stand emergency suspense. Go ahead and share the spoilers, I think. It’s OK; I need to know how this ends. It’s hard to say, really, whether the freak-out chicken or the emergency-rule egg came first, but, regardless, we have rules.
Calling from the hospital, for example? We must begin with “We’re fine; everything’s OK” and then – and only then – “I’m at the hospital.” And woe betide the husband who starts his call in reverse order when everything is, in fact, fine. I’m just saying.
Incidentally, this post has nothing to do with the hospital.
WE’RE FINE, friends. Everything’s OK. And I got a call from Aden’s school last week.
Hi. Beth? This is Nicole.
I like Nicole.
Hi, Nicole, I said.
Except I said it more enthusiastically, like, Hiiii, Nicole! with higher pitch and great expectation and a teeny, tiny dash of dread ‘cause, well, we might’ve had dozens of calls from Nicole in years past, and I always know it’s about to get good. And, by good, I mean always very entertaining but also sometimes bad.
Hey! Everything’s fine, Nicole said. Aden’s doing great!
Did I mention I like Nicole? I like Nicole a lot. She just intuitively understands the rules, you know? Everything’s fine.
Then Nicole told me a story because she knows I like stories, and it went like this:
Aden – I love that girl – asked Mrs. Reading Teacher today
if she can have her gold tooth when she dies.
And I love that girl, too.
And especially Mrs. Reading Teacher for saying yes.
Yes, Aden. Of course you can have my gold tooth, she said. I’ll just let my nephew know he can exclude that from my will when I die from laughing at you.
Except she probably didn’t say that last little bit because Mrs. Reading Teacher is rad and kind and doesn’t say things that might hurt kids’ feelings, even if they’re really, really true.
Now, I will confess to you that I worry sometimes about the future. About Aden’s future. About all my kids’ futures. I despair over teaching them to have good work ethics when they seek with striking regularity to slough off chores on their siblings. I wonder whether “forgetting” homework at school for the kajillionth time is the precursor to a lifetime of deception and crime. But mostly I worry that I’m behind the curve on delivering all the life lessons, like I’m falling down on this mama job. When I worry like this, though, about a future I cannot see, I’m forgetting the bigger truth; that parenting is a cumulative endeavor that builds and builds and builds on the small foundations we create every day; it’s not a one-time, highspeed download of every life skill right now.
I tell you this story – and confession – for two very important reasons.
First because I am counting on you. Decades from now, friends, when that teacher bites the dust and Aden is arrested with pliers in hand, mining for gold, we are calling you as witnesses for the defense. Be ready.
And second, I tell you this because I need the written reminder that my worries are, as usual, both unfounded and unfair. CLEARLY, my kid is going to be fine. At age ten, she’s got her eye on gold futures and she’s proactively sourcing a supply.
Take that, Worry.
We are fine. And everything is OK.