Last night it happened again. Garden club ended, I had 13 students in attendance, and at dismissal, all were picked but one. Unfortunately, this occurrence has become routine for this one student at the end of garden club. We dismiss at 4:45 p.m.. After each of our monthly meetings, since September, every student is picked up on time by their parent or guardian with the exception of this one little boy. Each month I have dug through my bag of permission slips to find his phone number to remind his mom to come and get him. Each month, she has arrived 30-45 minutes at school after the time club dismisses and after my phone call to remind her to come and get her son.
So, last night, when it happened again, neither he or I was surprised. But, I soon realized that I forgot my bag with garden club permission slips. I told myself that this happened because we had our meeting cancelled in February due to weather and I had returned my file folder to my desk at home. I know I am rationalizing! I should have had that folder with me. I did not. Luckily, my husband was home and in the house when I called. At my instruction, he went to my desk and opened my file drawers. I explained the file I needed, the one with the green, quarter sheet sized permission slips for each student in garden club. This year there are 23 of them. No luck. The file was not there. Next, because I was desperate, I had him proceed to our laundry room closet where I frequently stash my garden club files.
“They have to be there!” I exclaimed to him, rather excitedly. Later and late, it got. The later it got, the more I knew I would once again need the boy’s phone number. Unfortunately, he does not know his phone number. He’s a quiet, second grader and an ELL student, although he speaks quite well, when you can coax some words from his mouth.
Through all this, each time it occurs, he appears unruffled. There are no tears, no signs of nervousness, no visible worry, just patient waiting. Although last night, after we did get his mother’s phone number from my husband who found it in the student files in my laundry room, and she told us she’d be there in five minutes, he did ask if we should call her again when she did not turn into to the parking lot after twenty.
I reassured him. What else could I do? I did not want to ramp up his anxiety! I did not want tears. If I remained calm, so would he. Finally, she turned into the school’s parking lot. It was a full 50 minutes after club dismissal! When we left the warmth of the heated, double door, entry way at the school, I told him that I was going to ask his mom what I could do to help her remember to pick him up on garden club days. He said, “Okay.”
Her response? “You could call me,” she said. I thought about language barriers and her possible inability to read the written meeting reminders that were sent home the week before our meetings. I would do what I could.
“Okay, I can do that,” I said. “But, I will call early in the day. Our next meeting is April — (I told her the date). I will call you in the early afternoon to let you know we have garden club and that you need to come get him at 4:45 p.m..” She happily agreed.
I went on to tell her that I was doing this because I liked having her son come to garden club. He was a good kid and seemed to enjoy being there. I also saw signs of him coming out of an isolated social shell, as he interacts more and more with the other students. I knew I did not want to have the progress I saw during club meetings disappear. I did not share this last part, but I thought it.
As they drove away, I thought that I might be crazy. I was really going to extremes to provide an enrichment experience for this one child. My plate was full. I was adding something else to it by promising to call this mom. I knew I also would contact the teacher and principal (who I had previously talked to about this situation). But, he was learning. He was engaged. He was well-behaved. I enjoyed teaching him.
Having seemingly solved a problem, I felt strangely relieved on my way home. This was despite the fact that this mom’s lateness had delayed my own leaving to go pick up my son from college for Spring Break. I had 800 miles in front of me. I would be on time.