Morning Fire Drill

>> Tuesday, February 5, 2008

"Oh look, kids! Your classmates are standing in little groups on the lawn, instead of playing safely inside their classrooms. And listen -- the fire alarm is ringing. Whoopee! OK, now. Run along and have a good day. Good luck with that fire and everything. Just remember -- stop, drop and roll. We'll see you later!"

What is the matter with us?!

Apparently there was some sort of electrical malfunction in one of the rooms at the daycare where my girls go to school. When we pulled up, small children were standing in groups around the school yard. Samantha's class stood on the sidewalk in front of the parking lot -- their tiny heads barely visible over the hood of my car as I pulled up. (I doubt they'd be so visible from a minivan.)

No one seemed to be worried. Smoke was not billowing from the windows. Only one fire truck pulled up next to the school -- without sirens. Firemen casually walked through the front door as if they were about to register their own children for daycare. It's all going to be fine.

But still.

It didn't seem right to drop our kids off in the midst of this mild chaos. Dropping the girls off at daycare is one situation where I like routine. I pick a girl -- any girl -- take her to class, sign her in, hug her, kiss her, wave goodbye, and that's it. That's a nice, safe routine. Sometimes the girl cries and I feel like shit, but at least it's safe.

"The teachers are very capable," Michael said. And he's right. They are. Have faith, I think. But this requires more faith that I'm capable of generating. Other parents came and went, so we left. Because that's what the other parents did. And because there's work to do. And because there are so few parking spaces that we had to make room for more parents who needed to abandon leave their kids at school.

This is not a good morning.

As I put the car in reverse and slowly backed away, Samantha reached out to me while crying and clutching her baby doll. We usually don't allow her to take baby doll to school, because baby doll is very special. But we allowed Samantha to keep baby doll today for comfort. Because that's way better than actually comforting her, now isn't it?

This is not a good morning.

I'm writing now because I don't want to work. I'm waiting until a reasonable time has passed so I can call and confirm they're OK and stop worrying. But I don't want to call too soon, because then I'll get the inevitable endless ringing since they're probably still outside. So I'll hold out as long as I can so that the odds are better of reaching an actual person. In the meantime, I'll hold onto my "faith" for comfort. Because that's way better than actual comfort, isn't it?

Fuck it, I'm going to call.

The phone rings once, twice...

"Hello, this is classroom 4."

I hear children playing and talking in the background.

"Hi, this is Melissa, Samantha's mom. I'm sure you're being bombarded with phone calls right now.

"No, not really."


"Well, I'm just checking to see if everything is OK."

"Oh, yes," the teacher says. Her voice is calm and relaxed. "We're back inside and Samantha's eating breakfast."

"She is?" I ask. I imagine Samantha sitting at a circular table with other children, eating Cheerios with a plastic spoon out of a paper bowl. She's wearing the dress she got for her birthday. I bet her baby doll is on her lap.

I breathe.

"That's great! So what happened?"

"It was an electrical short in one of the classrooms. They took care of it and now everyone's back inside. Everything's OK now."

"Good! Well, OK. I just wanted to make sure."

"No problem. Thanks for checking."

We hang up.

Well, now, isn't that great? Now I can get this day started. Stop worrying. Get back to work. Fix those web sites. Focus on conversations.

But still.

I can't help thinking about Samantha, whose probably giggling now and sending baby doll hurtling down the slide. Wheee! Samantha loves her baby doll and I can see why. Baby doll has comforted her time and time again over the last three years. She has absorbed many tears and fears into her pink terry cloth flesh.

But even when Samantha is sad and clutches baby doll tightly to her neck while holding her pink hand, Samantha knows one thing for sure -- there's nothing like actual comfort. Because this faith thing is hard, sometimes.

I love you, sweetheart.


Dating Trooper - Dating is Warfare February 6, 2008 at 12:46 PM  

Hey, not that you did ANYTHING wrong by leaving the girls there, in the future I suggest going with your gut, screwing work, and staying with them until the "chaos" has passed. I say this only because I know your boss and workplace and can genuinely say the attitude is "family first."
But then again, parking is pretty bad! :-)

Michele February 7, 2008 at 11:46 AM  

You reminded me of a somewhat similar situation I had last week. I normally don't handle the drop off in the mornings. That's Neil's job. I'm the PU person. But one day last week, we had to switch schedules so I dropped off. And since I'm not all that familiar with the goings on in the AM, I couldn't help but notice this strange man sitting in a big black van. He had backed into his parking place and was in the giant Mercedes van ... it was very long and very tall. I was thinking he might live in that thing. And when I casually glanced his way, I could have sworn I saw him holding a ski mask in his hands. But I got Zoe out of the car anyway and hurried to the school as fast as I could. Then said man got out of the van and walked toward the school with a backpack. But by the time I got to Zoe's classroom, things were a bit crazy and I had to get her settled in and I forgot about said man. Until I came back out to my car and saw the scary van. I toyed with the idea of going back into the school and reporting the situation. But didn't want to look foolish if I was making a big deal out of nothing. On my drive to work, I worried and worried some more until I finally called the school from my parking garage. I informed the receptionist about the strange man but didn't leave my name. Later that night I was telling Neil the story and he said "Oh, that's Jane Doe's brother, you know the lady who basically funds the school out of her own pocket because she is that rich?" So sometimes my imagination gets away from me. So freaking what. I'm a mother : )

Dawn February 9, 2008 at 11:46 PM  

How traumatic for your little girls! I hope they bounce back from it all okay. However, this might be a good time to go over what would happen if there were a fire in your home. That's what we did after our little fire scare.

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