“HI, THIS IS YOUR CHILD’S SCHOOL CALLING…”
Okay, new rule. If you work at a school, hospital, or law enforcement agency and you ever need to call a parent, the FIRST THING out of your mouth should always be “Everything’s alright,” or something to that effect. Unless, of course, everything ISN’T alright, in which case you should skip this step.
I just received such a call. Caller ID showed me the call was coming from my kids’ school, but it’s not unheard of for one of my boys to call for one reason or another—forgotten lunch money or left an assignment at home.
But the adult voice on the other end wasn’t one of my boys. My stomach slightly clenched; I have a very active imagination.
The voice from the school said something like, “Is this Collin’s dad?”
The clench became a cramp. My mouth said, “Yes, this is Collin’s dad. How can I help you?”
But my mind and ever-tightening stomach were thinking, “Yes, this is Collin’s dad. What happened?! Which hospital is he at?!”
The voice said, “I’m calling to let you know that Collin has received a Wolf Citation. Do you know what that is?”
But my mind heard, “Your son isn’t injured. But he’s in trouble. He was written up, given a citation—sort of a demerit or punishment for something he’s done.”
Perhaps thinking back to my own school days I replied, “I’m so sorry. Whatever it is we’ll pay for it. Or clean it up. Or whatever needs to be done.”
The voice said, “No, that’s not …”
I interrupted, it’s important that she understands my wife and I take these things very seriously. “Well then I hope whoever he did it to is alright. Were there any witnesses? Are you sure you’ve got both sides of the story? My wife and I take these things very seriously.”
The voice stuttered, then paused. Probably trying to manage her anger, I think.
Silence is bad. I’d better say something!
“He’s normally a very good kid, you know.”
The voice said, “Yes, we love him here at school. He received a Wolf Citation as recognition for going above and beyond. His art teacher gave it to him because he volunteered to clean up the art room. None of the other kids were interested.”
Silence. This time on my end.
Finally, my mouth said, “Thank you for calling! He has always been such an awesome kid! That doesn’t surprise me a bit!”
But my mind was thinking, “He’ll volunteer to clean up at school? Trying to get him to clean his own room is like pulling teeth. I’m so glad he’s okay. And he got an award! Following in his ol’ dad’s footsteps!”
And when he got home my praise was just as abundant as my anger would have been if he had been in trouble. In fact, it was a lot more.