Midmorning on my youngest daughter’s first day of Kindergarten, my office phone rang.
“Mrs. B? This is the Busing Supervisor from the school division transportation office. I’m just phoning to advise you that there was an accident involving your daughter’s bus this morning.”
Long pause. Way too long, although it was probably only a millisecond.
“No one was hurt.”
OK where did this dude learn his phone etiquette? Didn’t he understand that this call should have STARTED with the words “Everyone is fine…?”
Once I managed to dislodge my heart from the back of my throat, I was able to ascertain that the accident had been minor. A compact car had grazed the side of the bus and damaged the safety arm that swings out when the bus is loading. The tiny bus passengers were barely jiggled, but they had a front row seat for the entertainment when the police car arrived. When I picked my daughter up from daycare later that afternoon I asked her how her first day of school had gone. She reported gleefully that the highlight of the day had been when the bus “crashed!”
I’m not a huge worrier. My teenagers have been known to describe me as a “pretty chill mom.” I believe in teaching my children to be independent. To take calculated risks. To live in the world without my constant protection. But there are times when I can’t help playing out in my head how I would react if I got the call.
That call. The call that every parent dreads, but no parent can truly imagine. The call that shatters the universe.
The call that surpasses in one crashing moment all the awfulness of being a parent. Worse than standing over the crib worrying that she will stop breathing in the night. Worse than waiting for the fever to break or the bone to set. Worse than letting her cross the street on her own the first time. Worse than handing her the car keys for the first time. Worse than waiting up to the wee hours of the night in case you have to be an impromptu designated driver.
My sister’s dear friend got that call today, in a bedroom community just outside of Edmonton. She was not told that everyone is fine. Things will not be fine for her family for a long, long time.
Hug your kids tonight.