If anyone had told me before I had a child that becoming a parent would turn me into a stark raving mad lunatic, I would have never believed them.
But, alas, here I sit – as I type – in a chair in the corner of the welcome area at the local rec center working on my laptop while my 5-year-old participates in a program in the gymnasium.
How did I get here? Let’s back up…
When the school has half-days, the rec center has a program you can enroll your kid in. It includes transportation, and from noon to 5 p.m. they play sports and games and other activities in the gym. Lovely, right?
We signed him up and really felt like it was a win-win because then neither my husband nor I have to take a half-day off from work, and Mikey gets to run around with his friends all afternoon.
But then the anxiety started to set in. For me, not Mikey.
I had to go into the School Dismissal Manager app and change his normal dismissal instructions from the bus number he always takes home, to the bus that goes to the rec center. This is the first time he’s had any “exception” for pickup, so I realized I never even downloaded the app, so I had to do that first.
It was pretty user-friendly… Piece of cake!
I went into the correct date and hit the drop-down menu and there were all kinds of options: “stop and go,” which is an everyday afterschool program at the rec for parents who need the extended hours for their kids; transportation to the Boys and Girls Club; and an option to take a bus with a friend to their house for a play date; along with about six other options.
I clicked the option I thought was correct. Then I also emailed the teacher and expressed my anxiety and asked her to please not let him end up in New Jersey.
This morning when I was putting Mikey on the bus I told him to remember he’s taking the bus to the rec center and to listen to instructors so he knows where to go. He got on the bus and found his seat, and gave me a wave through the window.
Before I even made it back into the house my phone rang. It was the main office at the elementary school. The secretary asked if Mikey was going to the rec center, because they got a list of kids from the center detailing who was enrolled, which had his name on it, but when she checked the list of kids taking the bus, Mikey wasn’t signed up.
She was very nice when I explained that he should, in fact, be going to the rec center, told me I just needed to go back into the app and click another option. No problem. That, I can do.
Well, of course when I pulled up the app it did nothing but “spin” when I tried to log in and after several minutes and many attempts to close out of it and log back in, I called the school back. I explained my crisis to the secretary and she said, no problem, she would go into the system and do it for me. Wonderful.
I then sat down at my home office and started to work… Checking the clock every few minutes. Finally, noontime rolled around and I heard a bus pull up outside. I looked out the window and saw it stop in front of the house, then leave, without discarding a certain kindergartener behind.
Initiate extreme panic.
I told myself that was a good thing, since he wasn’t supposed to come home, anyway, and he was supposed to go to the rec center, which is – I would assume – what happened.
But then why did the bus even stop out front?
About 30 minutes later after getting zero work done because my blood pressure was through the roof, I packed up my laptop and headed to the rec center. After I explained to the front desk worker that I was simply checking up on my child because I was afraid that maybe he was in New Jersey, I made my way to the gym and – surprise, surprise – he was there playing Capture the Flag. He had a big smile on his face and I could see that some of his friends were there with him.
That was about 40 minutes ago. Since I didn’t feel like going home and coming back, I decided to just tap into the wi-fi here and work remotely.
So, here I am, balancing my laptop on my thighs in an uncomfortable chair while my kid is living his best life down the hall, in a program that I paid for so that my husband and I didn’t have to take time off from work.
It’s kind of like paying a babysitter to come over and sit on the couch next to you while you watch a movie.
Holly Crocco is editor of the Putnam County Times/Press and mother of a 5-year-old. She can be reached at email@example.com.