The start of every school year brings with it much work.
There is of course the shopping aspect - shoes, backpacks and all the other goodies. This of course is followed by the student returning home from their first week with ‘homework’ for the parents. The varying forms necessary for the school to take proper care of our children overwhelms me each year. Yes, my son is only in first grade so… I better get used to it.
This year, however, when I completed my ‘Emergency Contact’ form I was very methodical in filling it out. For the first time, I placed myself in the mind set of if something happened to me, who could get to him the quickest. Who would he feel comfortable with, if he needed to be with them for a few hours before another family member arrived?
The great thing about small town living is the circle of varying ‘grown-ups’ who have surrounded my children since birth. Be it the Leader staff, neighbors or mommy’s friends, I could easily rattle off the names of six people whom if they appeared in my place I would know my kids were fine.
But last week, I came to learn (very quickly might I add) that even the best laid plans have holes.
This lesson found me quickly (early last week) as I went to retrieve my son and our carpool friend from school. Minutes before pick-up I shot a quick text to the other child’s mom confirming I was ‘getting the boys.’
She quickly replied with relief, indicating she had a flat tire and was patiently waiting for help to arrive with changing it.
Everything was going just as perfectly as it should until suddenly, while waiting to turn left at a major intersection my car died. When I say died, I mean that in the truest of forms. It did not stall, the battery was fine… it just stopped running.
With my preschooler in the backseat and five minutes until the final bell at my son’s school, I did what mommies do - thought fast under pressure.
First phone call - who would retrieve the boys and how would they know it was okay to go with this person. A quick call to the Leader office (my mommy hub - if you must know), sent another mom into action to pick-up my son and his friend. Within the span of three minutes communication was made between all parties to get the boys safely to the carpool family’s home until mommy could get there.
So now, what to do about this one ton Suburban sitting at the four way stop at one of the busiest times of the day?
Fortunately, as I was coordinating pick-up another mommy friend happened to pass by and mouth ‘do you need help?’ To which I quickly nodded. Seconds later another friend happened upon the other side of my car, same question/same answer.
As my girlfriend approached and asked what had happened, a Police Officer also happened by. I quickly felt relief, as I was worried about my two friends pushing this beast of a car as I steered it out of the way.
The officer quickly informed us he could not help push the vehicle, but was there something else I ‘might need help with.’ Shocked, but honestly too busy and harried to care I asked if perhaps he could direct traffic so we could get the car through the intersection. He obliged.
Within a matter of minutes, the car was out of the way, my friends were on their merry way and the flow of traffic restored. As my preschooler and I waited for the tow truck I could not help but feel grateful.
Sure, no one likes car problems and that part of the day was really not so fun - but how fortunate was I in this moment? To have help so quickly, everyone safe, no honking or screaming people driving past… it was all sort of seamless.
The bigger lesson of course was the Emergency Call List. The events of this happening after all were minutes before the bell. Getting communication to my son the traditional way, was just not an option.
That night over dinner, the three of us discussed the events of the day. As a family we developed our own sort of Plan B, so that if mommy or his carpool mommy is not there he knows what is safe and who he can trust.
Most importantly it was a great eye opener of whose numbers I should keep handy on my own Emergency Call List. Until needed next time, I am forever grateful for my ‘hub’ and a town full of friends not afraid to stop.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at email@example.com or by calling 847-3021.