A week or so ago, I was at my Mom and Dad's condo, which is about an hour and a half from home. We had just gotten in the door from Dad's most recent chemo treatment, when my cell phone rang. It was 2:45, so I knew my 6th grade daughter was calling to let me know she got home and in the house okay.
"Hi Mom, I'm home."
"Thanks for calling, honey."
(I can tell something is wrong.)
"Are you going to work on your reading project, now, before your sister gets home?"
(She starts to cry. Actually, she starts to wail.)
"Mom. I accidentally left my poster in homeroom and then I was getting my bag all packed up at my locker and this kid hit me in the nose with his lunchbox. He said it was an accident but I don't believe him. I know I had my planner and my supply pouch in my bag but they're not there! I don't know what to do!"
"Okay, it's okay," I say in my most soothing voice, hopefully low enough that my parents don't hear.
"Get a piece of paper and quickly write down what you remember is due tomorrow while it's still fresh in your mind, okay?"
"Okay, but Mom!"
I scan my mind, trying to recall the assignments we discussed last night.
"You have your final reading log due tomorrow, right?"
"Yes! That's what I mean - my jump drive is in my supply pouch and I don't have it and I worked on it today at school and all my work is on it!"
This is not the first time that there has been a crisis of some sort while I have been away from home, but this is the first one that was not resolvable entirely with words of wisdom or a quick call to a mom-friend for a ride to or from somewhere.
"It's going to be okay, honey. Let's get this figured out. The big assignments are all for one teacher, right?"
"Okay; her email address is on the school website, right?"
"So, why don't you start by sending her an email right away and tell her what happened?"
"Mom, she won't give me extra time. She won't. She said so today in class. She said the projects have to be turned in tomorrow and there's no way I can get it done!"
"Don't ask her for extra time. Just let her know what happened, right away. At least she will know that your project might be late and she will know why and she won't think you were just goofing off, right? She knows you; she knows you are good student and that you always turn your work in on time, right?"
"Okay, Mom. I'll do it. But this is my most important project this grading period!"
"Just give it a try. Then call me back."
I went back to the table where my parents were sitting, eating a snack after the long appointment at the cancer treatment center.
"Who was that?"
"Oh, It was B, letting me know she's home."
"Have the girls already started back to school?"
"Oh, yeah, Mom - it's October. They've been back for a while."
"Oh, of course! I forgot."
"Is everything okay, Margaret?"
"Yes, Dad; she forgot a couple of things at school. She's a little upset."
My Dad looks pained: "I'm sorry you have to be here. I hate to be a burden on you kids."
"It's okay, Dad. She'll be fine."
My cell phone rang again. It's B.
"Mom, I sent the email. I checked my bag three times to make sure the jump drive wasn't in there and it's not. I don't know where it could be!"
"Okay, good. Let's think. If someone found it, they would take it to the office, right? Why don't you call the school office and ask if someone turned it in?"
"But, Mom, even if somebody turned it in I can't get it today and tomorrow will be too late!"
I look at my watch. She's right. Even if I left right then, I would not be able to get over to the middle school before it closed.
"Let's try it anyway. What have we got to lose? When you call, ask how late someone will be there, okay? Just tell the secretary what happened and ask if someone turned anything in, okay? Give it a try."
"Okay, Mom, but I don't think it will do any good."
(Grumbling under breath.)
"Is everything okay? Was that B again?" my Mom asks.
"Yes, it was. She's fine. Working through it."
Mom and Dad continued their snack. Dad got up to check his email, which is mostly dirty jokes from his geezer buddies.
My phone rang again.
"Hi, honey. Did you get a hold of someone in the office?"
(Projecting chipper optimism.)
"Finally. No one answered the first two times I called, but the third time the secretary answered. She said no one brought anything in yet, but there is a lost and found box that things are put in and I can check it in the morning."
"Well, it seems to me you have done all you can. Sweetie, we know what a hard worker you are. If one assignment is late, it won't be because you didn't do your best work. These things happen. No one is upset with you about this, okay?"
"I know. I just really wanted to get an A+ in honors reading. It's my favorite class."
"You may still get an A+. And if you don't, you don't. It won't be the end of the world. I promise."
"You don't have any homework you can do, do you?"
"I guess that means you can goof off the rest of the afternoon. See - it's not all bad!"
"Oh..... yeah! Tell Papa and Gram I hope they feel better soon! Bye Mom!"
And that was that.
I sent her off to school the next morning, worried. She bounced in the door after school, smiling.
"So - how did it go today? Did your stuff get turned in?"
"Yeah; Mr. Williams found the poster and took it to the office and Mrs. Miller got my email and found my stuff in the hallway right by my locker. She let me eat lunch in her room and finish my assignments before class."
"What can I have for a snack? I'm starved to death!"
I told her later how impressed I was that she solved this problem for herself and that she held it together even though I wasn't there to help. She laughed and said she didn't; she said she cried all afternoon but her smile told me she was proud of herself.
I think scientists have gotten it all wrong. They shouldn't be focused on cloning farm animals. They should be cloning mothers, so we can be everywhere at once.