Phone call from school

8 December, 2009

The school rang me at 3.30pm today. School finishes at 3.15pm and it’s generally not a great thing for me to get an out of hours call. Basically it means they’ve missed the school bus, or worse. One time last year Sam’s teacher rang at about 4.30pm. She was “very concerned”.

There had been some mix up at breakfast club and my six year old son, Sam, hadn’t wanted to pay for the food he’d taken. His teacher said he’d got confused with his free school dinners and thought he didn’t have to pay. Fair enough. But the reason she was ringing, was that when she talked to him about it later in the day, he got very, very anxious. Apparently he said that sometimes his sister steals money from his money box but then she lies about it, and he gets into trouble. His teacher was concerned that he was so visibly distressed and wanted to know if he was okay now. I looked over at him stuffing chocolate chip cookies, “Well he seems alright, but of course I’ll talk to him”, I replied, a bit confused myself. I have a feeling that it is me on his teacher’s “concerned” list, not Sam. Just something about the way she talks (down) to me says, “families I’m keeping an eye on”. Having her check up on my domestic bliss, out of hours, adds to my paranoia. Very casually, I broach the breakfast club subject and ask if he got something nice. “Yeah”, comes the reply. Chewing cookies and watching TV, has left only one brain cell available for sharing his life with me. I pause, then try again. “So, no problems then at breakfast club?”. He looks at me sideways, then his eyes sparkle.  He knows I know. He smiles and tries to avoid further discussion, to avoid being busted.

Me: “So, what happened? Mrs M’s been on the phone saying you were really anxious?”

He begins a long winded explanation about breakfast club and repeats himself again and again. I can’t really follow his stream of consciousness, but eventually I tease out the line, “I never pay for breakfast club”.

Me: “Whaddayamean you never pay for breakfast club?”

S: “I don’t pay”

Me: “Yes you do, I give you a £2 a week for it”

S: “Er, well,” He’s shifting his feet and definately looking a bit anxious now. This is how he looks when he’s making up a lie story to placate me. This means I’m getting to the point. I have to act fast and interrupt his thoughts before he has a scenario in place of reality.

Me: “Why don’t you pay?”

S: “Er, well”. I’m on him now, but he’s stalling for time.

Me: “So, c’mon, how come you don’t think you have to pay?”

S: “Mrs J never charges me, so I don’t pay”.

Me: “What?”

S: “She just never charges me, so I never pay. But today they wanted me to pay. So I told them I don’t pay, but they kept saying I had to”.

This is a difficult one. I don’t really know what’s said about me at school. I don’t go in that often. We are blessed to live in out of town in a village.  The real blessing is the free school bus.   Consequently, I only collect them one day a week on a Tuesday, and that means I don’t hear the playground gossip. But what I suspect is, that everyone knows that my husband has left me. Everyone certainly knows that I’m pregnant. And lets face it they probably all know I’m flat broke, skint too – these things have a tendency to show in one’s face and in one’s demeanor. The fact that Sam hasn’t paid for breakfast club in over a year may possibly be someone’s generous oversight. I’ll never know. But, what I do know is that I’m not finished with him yet.

S: “Then Mrs M. kept asking me loads of questions”.

Me: “So, if you don’t ever pay, then what happens to the two quid I’ve been giving you every week?”

S: No answer, shifting his feet again.

Me: “What do you do with it? Tell me.”

S: “I bring it home and put it in my money box”.

I am incredulous.

It explains a lot. It was Mrs M’s concerned questions that were making him anxious, and rightly so. His terrible worry was that he was going to get busted for nicking both his breakfast club money and his breakfast, for over a year. I smile as I remember how diligently, (and now I think of it, how quickly), he saved up for his Playstation 2 and his Nintendo DS. I’d refused to buy them for him (or so I thought).

What can I do? I can’t tell his teacher what he’s been up to. I would be wrong to grass him up for saving his breakfast club money. It’s a christian school and technically, he’s been stealing from them and from me. I’m going to have to take this on the chin and continue to be on her “concerned” list. The poor, single mum who’s not quite coping with it all.

But we’ve all moved on a long way from that time.  Today the phone call is not about stolen bagels. It’s 3.30pm and they should be walking through the door – unless they’ve missed the bus.  These days they can never remember whether they’re on the darned thing or not. They ask me to write it on their hands so they remember. But I totally refuse to do that. They can remember to get on the bus four days a week, for god’s sake. It’s just enabling their infancy and disabling their brains.

I listen to the school secretary on the end of the line, “Mrs. V.?”

“Yes,” I reply, trying to be nice, although I’ll kill them if they’ve missed the bus again.

“Your children are in the office”.  The secretary is also trying-to-be-nice, I can hear it in her strained voice.   “They say you normally pick them up on a Tuesday.”

4 Responses to “Phone call from school”

  1. Newdawn96 Says:

    Big Grin! Love this blog H xxx

  2. Hari Says:

    Bet you’ve been there hon. 😉

  3. Sharada Says:

    Your incompetent mother stories are just the best x

  4. Oops! Maybe you should write it on your hand in future 😉

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