She got out of the car and walked toward the empty school.
“Where are all the other kids?” I asked through the open window. “It seems strange that no one is here.”
“I know,” she replied. “I’m sure the practice is tonight.”
I told her to go inside and find out whether or not the band rehearsal was being held. Maybe not the best parenting decision I’ve made – sending a kid into an empty building to investigate, but it’s her school. She’s there every day. I’m not holding her hand anymore.
Three minutes later she walked out, another wandering band student in tow. “Nobody else is there,” she said. “It must have been rescheduled.”
The presence of the other kid, and the two cars that pulled up around us as we left the parking lot to return home gave me a small sense of gratification that I wasn’t the only person in town who got lost in the activity calendar. A few texts and a phone call with the teacher confirmed that the rehearsal had been changed about a month ago. I must have missed the email.
During the last month of school, I receive about 15 communications a week from my kids’ schools, easily. Maybe 50. Maybe a hundred, a thousand. I’m not a secretary by trade – the correspondence by email alone is overwhelming. Throw in two types of text updates, automated messages on every phone, Facebook group discussions, and the rare paper sent home, and the fact that I missed only one email over the course of a school year should be celebrated.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little peeved by the whole situation. My daughter felt dumb for not knowing when the practice was, and I was put out since I had another kid at home who was waiting to be schlepped around, and now he’d be running late. But we don’t live that far from school, and this was a pretty small inconvenience big picture-wise, so I got over it.
I took my very apologetic daughter home, picked up my son, drove him to his destination and dropped him off, came home, poured myself a glass of wine, put my feet up, raised my glass to my just-home husband and declared “I’m in for the night. You’re up, Hoss.”
I’ve given up any former claims I might have made on being Supermom a long time ago. My children have learned that managing their lives isn’t my end game. They are expected to know what they are expected to know, and if they don’t, any dropping of the ball I do when it comes to their lives is shared by them. The older they get, the more I rely on them to know what’s going on. We’re all in this together, kids, and the process of them learning this lesson ends in as many accidents as our earliest days of potty-training.
Resiliency is a fancy way of saying that we are able to let things roll off our backs. We showed up at school for a practice that wasn’t being held. Oh well, no harm done. We should have known, but we didn’t. We’re human. We make mistakes once in a while.
But we also apologize. We own that we didn’t know what we should have known. We keep a closer eye on that schedule and try to figure out why we forgot. That’s what learning is: we study our mistakes and adjust behavior to avoid repeating them. It doesn’t mean we throw our hands up and say “Oh well, whatever”. Rather – “Oh well, I learned my lesson! I’ll be sure not to make that mistake again!” And then don't do it again.
It’s difficult to allow ourselves to look vulnerable – to admit our own frailty. But it’s part of what makes good relationships. It’s also good to work hard to figure out why we make mistakes and not repeat them. We can’t be callous and leave a mess behind for someone else to clean up, just as we can’t wallow in our grievances – eventually we need to stand up and get moving, but we also have the responsibility to do better.
In this case, that means that we - my daughter and I - need to keep better track of the million messages we get from school.
It can be done, I’m sure of it.