Where’s my mom?

It was getting later and later.

My watch told me it was now approaching five thirty! Club dismisses at 4:45 p.m..

It was early February and now dark outside. The school parking lot was empty and the outside lights were shining on the snow piles, reflecting with a glare.

All but one of my garden club students had been picked up by their respective adults. But, here I stood in the atrium of the school entrance waiting with A. again. This had become a regular occurrence with A. after our garden club meetings.

Again, I could see the worry cross his face. He did not know his phone number; I already knew that from the first time this happened last fall. He had no way to contact her.

“Where’s my mom?” he asked me in a serious tone, eyes so filled with tears they were near to spilling over.

I’m sure she’s on her way, I reassured him, although I really did not know where she was.

A. was a second grade student. Second graders are the very youngest of my garden club students. In most cases, being in garden club is the first time they’ve been able to stay after school for any reason. They are always teetering on the brink of wanting to be independent and needing reassurance.

This particular student was not sure about being in club. But, he kept coming. Each month he’d show up to our meeting and would quietly participate by listening and doing the activity but not really voluntarily contribute.

In December, I felt I made a “break through” with him. We were writing holiday acrostic poems based on plants. I asked for volunteers to read their poem when it was done. Several students, the usual few, were eager to comply. I noticed that when I made my way around the room to check on the students’ work, A. had finished a nice poem. He was an English Language Learner or ESL student. Yet, his poem was as well done as any of his peers. After the eager students had shared, I asked A. if he wanted to read his poem aloud, he declined. A few minutes later, after a few more students had shared, A.’s hand went up. I called on him. He indicated he was ready to share his poem! I was so proud of him!

Unfortunately, it was after this meeting that his mom did not arrive to retrieve him at dismissal. I had her number in my cell phone as this had happened before, several times.

Did I mention he was in second grade?

As A. looked up at me, with his big brown eyes ready to spill tears over his ruddy cheeks, I said, “Look, I’ll try to call her again. Okay? She’s probably just running late.”

This time she answered. I told her that A. and I were waiting for her to pick him up and that dismissal time had been 45 minutes ago. She responded that she would get on her way and be there soon.

A. remained strong and the tears never did flow. But, it was the last time I saw him in club that year.

Today is Day 7 of the 31 day Slice of Life Story Challenge. Thank you to TwoWritingTeachers.org for organizing and hosting this challenge!

Typically, on Sunday, I make a wordless post. It is called Silent Sunday and features only my own photographs on a theme of my choosing. Since the SOLSC is a writing challenge, I felt it was inappropriate to just post photographs, so today you have a true story from the late winter of 2019. If you’d like to check out my Silent Sunday posts, you just have to use the search bar on my blog to do so….there are four years worth of Sunday photos! Thanks!

12 Thoughts

  1. Poor guy! This is sooo scary for kids. Thank heaven he had someone kind and compassionate waiting with him, instead of someone grumpy about having their own time taken away. I always wonder what parents could be thinking!!

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  2. Do you hear that? It’s the sound of my heart breaking in about seven places. The frustration and embarrassment of a kid who has to wait that long, the scene that may have taken place upon return home, the space they leave in not returning to your club. All of that makes me just want to gather this lovey up and keep on huggin’. (I also see shades of your comment from yesterday in here. Love how things in this world line up as they do, sometimes.) But as for your silent Sunday posts? It’s true that I am a rule follower. BUT. Just as wordless books and animated shorts are considered “text” in their own rights? So do your Wordless Sundays. I hope you’ll reconsider =)

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    1. Yes, I know, I can hear it. This was heartbreaking. I have had it happen before, that a parent “forgets” a kid or that there’s a miscommunication at home as far as who is to pick the child up. But, this was a regular occurrence with A. even after I spoke with his mother, several times, face to face. I told my husband that I just wanted to bring him home! Ugh!

      Thanks for your support for Silent Sunday, too! I’ll give some thought to what you wrote.

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  3. Heartbreaking, heartaching, heartwrenching. I wonder where a parent’s mind and heart are when this happens over and over. As I was reading your post aloud to my 11 year old my 16 year old came into the room. I shared how when she was a baby I fell asleep and slept through picking up my then 5 year old, who had just walked into the room. I said Oh she probably doesn’t remember that time. However, my 16 year old quickly corrected me and said, “Yes I do”! The horrible feelings came flooding back. What shines in your post is the care and compassion you give to this student in need. He was lucky to have someone watching out for him when his parent was remiss.

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    1. Thank you! Yes, I hope that A. can remember the kindness and support, especially in times he might not receive it from where he should. We all have those times that we make mistakes – I locked my second son in our new house alone when he was only a few weeks old by accident UGH. Luckily, I had just fed him and he slept through the whole thing! Me? I was a wreck! I just wish this had not be a repeating occurrence.

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  4. Those situations are so hard to deal with emotionally, yet they’re all too common. I’ve sponsored several after-school clubs and have had the same thing happen. I feel so bad for the kids, especially the ones who simply resign themselves to the reality of their situations. Thank you for sharing this.

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    1. Yes, they are draining emotionally – you feel so much all at once: anger, frustration, resentment, fear for the child, sadness for the child, a lack of understanding what keeps a parent from being responsible, and on and on the list goes. I had talked to this mom, face to face, several times about her tardiness in picking A up and how he became worried when she did not arrive on him. I really think this was a cultural/language barrier in this case. I missed having him for our end of year meetings.

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  5. Heartbreaking is the right word. When kids can’t depend on their parents, when parents routinely let them down, I believe the harm takes years to repair. How lucky that he had a kind teacher to reassure and even better, contact his parent. Bless you.

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  6. At first I felt sad that this was A’s last meeting, but then I looked at it again. It was okay that he never returned to the garden club because his last meeting was the most successful. A finally participated, and it was more than just a response. A shared his writing, and that is not always easy to do. I also found it interesting that A’s poem was of high quality even though he was an English language learner. I’ve had that same writing success with dyslexic students. There’s something about the brevity of a poem that can overcome the usual writing challenges.

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    1. Thank you for putting such a positive spin on A not returning to club. It was not my decision to have him not attend any longer…apparently, it was just too hard to remember to get him. I hope that he continues to be the gentle, kind child I knew him to be. I think you are correct about the poetry. I also think (hope) that I modeled to him when I was listening to the other students share their poems that nothing but good things was going to come from his sharing. I think fear was definitely part of his “hanging back.” Thanks, again!

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