How to give a mom a heart attack...

November 09, 2007

1.Call her on her cell phone as she is blithely driving along.
2.Show up as her children's school on caller ID. This will put her into full alert.
3.Make her wait a couple of seconds saying HELLO?! HELLO?
4.Commence a recorded message saying in a voice not unlike a news anchor reporting something very dire, " This is the superintendent. At 10:45 this morning *name of the school 3 of your children are currently at* received a call that there was a bomb in the building" (or something to that effect)...
5. Blather on for a few minutes about what the police did then.... while the mother you called has that heart attack and crashes the car.  She may  or may not still be around to hear when you wrap it up by saying cheerfully that in fact a bank was robbed in your little town at about the same time so it appears to have been a diversionary tactic to keep the police away from there, and nothing blew up so we are pretty sure all is well and we are so proud of everyone doing what they were supposed to do in a circumstance like this. Alrighty then-bye-bye!
Today as I was driving along I was literally thinking literally the moment before the cell phone rang that it had been such a great day. Really smooth and sunny. Life was good. It reminded me of the fact that one phone call, one moment could completely change your life. Those first few words I heard as I answered the phone triggered every fear that I had stuffed down somewhere from the time I first saw the horrifying coverage of the Columbine shootings when Benjamin was a newborn and all the subsequent school tragedies. Still, I have never obsessed about these things too much. I know some of my friends fear something like this every time their child goes to school. I just don't. The statistics are still very much on our side after all, but today made the possibility of the unthinkable that much more tangible and I absolutely fell apart. I was really surprised by the force of my emotion. Since I am not generally a big cry-er and tend to have a more delayed reaction to shock (and then I usually just act angry),  the fact that I burst immediately into tears was an indication of what had been seething beneath the surface for me. I was able to pull myself more or less together after a few moments, get it all into perspective, It was just a threat -they happen every day somewhere after all. I never bat an eyelid anymore when I hear about them on the news. I made a call to a friend who has kids at another school in town. They were being checked out too but our school had been the only one that was called, she had actually been at her kids' school and spoken to one of the policemen there and felt that everything was OK. So I forced my trembling limbs back into mobility, ran into a store to get what I needed, and then drove home.
It was only when I finally paged Aaron that I began to sob and have major chest pain. (Since I am currently in the process of having a heart condition ruled out/diagnosed, this was also rather troubling).
Aaron was in a meeting so could not talk for long, and I was not all cried out. So I called my mom, because just the process of actually getting a call through to SA, and then actually finding someone at home there generally shocks me into forgetting whatever it is that I was freaking out about.  And if that doesn't  do it my mom has an uncanny talent for putting a positive spin on pretty much everything.
Many a good cry to my mom I have been cheated of because of this, and unable to dredge up even one crocodile tear,I have had to be content with telling her about the fact that I almost cried. But today I was able to cry and sob and blub and have further chest pain to my heart's content. (My poor mother) By the time I was done with her I had experienced 3 near fainting episodes, called the Dr. upon her insistence and called her back. Oh the drama. We are talking a major losing of one's marbles here folks. Like Freak Out with capital F O.  I'm absolutely sure that if I had received the fake bomb/bank robber news in a different way-say on one of the millions of papers handed to me by my children at the end of the day , (which I was in addition to the call), this would not have been nearly such a big deal, but being away from one's kids and hearing of the possibility of harm to them is just the most revolting feeling I can describe.
My next post will be from a bunker in Southern Idaho where we will all live until Finny is 30.

That is awful Kirsty! I hope you are doing okay now. I know what it's like to call mom and let it all out. My poor mom has had to be the recipient of the first phone call I make immediately upon hearing that my latest boyfriend has broken up with me. Her advice is usually, "Imagine them in a diaper!" and "They don't deserve you anyway. It's them that's a weirdo, not you!" Moms are the best... I am having a hard enough time now that my mom has left Washington state for the Oregon coast. My parents seem so far away and I feel helpless to helping them, especially now that they are getting older. So you are very brave indeed to be living half a world away from your mom (and dad), and especially to have been doing so since you were 18! I couldn't have done it. And one last comment, in all my considerations about whether to have children, one of my biggest concerns is all the worry that children must cause a mother. But the USA is so safe compared to SA - I mean, murder capital of the world aside, who's heard of a bicycle helmet or backseat seatbelt in South Africa? My dad used to drive us home from dinner parties drunk. The conditions we grew up in in SA were so much more dangerous, and we seemed to make it out just fine. (Of course, there were the three times I was walking down Athlone Road and a man pulled up in a car next to me, pulled down his pants, and asked me where some nonexistent street was and could I show it to him.) On the other hand, I've never heard of a school shooting in SA. But in general the USA (I mean OHIO!!!!) seems like a far safer place to raise children. XOXO
Posted by: Toad | November 11, 2007 at 01:58 PM
Hey Toad
Thanks for the sympathy, yes it really sucks to be far from your mom and dad, especially when you have kids because it is so sad that they don't see them grow :( It's a great sadness to me.
OMIGOSH that same pervert stopped me outside Parktown girls when I was walking to the bus stop when I was about 10. I was so polite to him too all the while watching him juggling with himself. (GAG!!) I averted my eyes but still had seen enough, it was quite traumatic, he invited me to look closer. He asked me where Parktown girls was, where Parkview Junior and Senior were and I told him just out of reflex. Then I was guilt stricken that I had told a pervert where the schools were and all the people on my bus told me I had to get off the bus and run back to the schools to warn them. :/ What a sicko. I wonder if they ever caught him.
Posted by: Kirsty | November 11, 2007 at 02:16 PM
And oh yes, pervert got me sidetracked. It is most disconcerting when this happens in your small town of Ohio. One of the major reasons we live here is because it is supposedly safe. But bad things happen everywhere. I spoke to a friend today who has a kid in the local junior high, she told me before I even said anything that she had "just about had a heart attack" because she got the phone message too and said, "the first thing the superintendant said was-there has been a bomb...why did he start the message that way??!!!" I was so glad not to have been alone in my hysteria.
LOL at we how all survived pre-helmut/seatbelt, not driving your kids drunk days ;) We were most probably sucking on lead laced pacifiers too.
Posted by: Kirsty | November 11, 2007 at 02:20 PM
I think I had two different guys, but likely one of them was the same one that accosted you. Yeah, I wonder if he ever got caught...
I didn't tell anyone about it for years. But since it happened to you too, I wonder how many other girls we know had a similar experience. He asked me if I'd ever seen a man's thingy before. We were taught to be so polite and respectful in SA that of course I answered all of his questions truthfully too. But don't worry, I'm sure he could have figured out where the schools were (or already knew) even if you didn't tell him.
P.S. Did you notice that I mentioned Ohio in my original comment? :)
Posted by: Toad | November 11, 2007 at 07:01 PM
I also got asked where Parktown Girls was by a fidgiting man! Other times they asked me where a street was, and I never knew (being far to young to drive... why would I know where anything other than my own street was?). I always tried to be helpful when I was younger, but when I was older, I turned to rolling my eyes at them and I even swore at one guy once. It happened to me once at a rest stop in Oregon when I standing slightly away from the group of people I was traveling with, but the rest of the times were in SA. I had the presence of mind to remember the Oregon guy's license number but it was pre-cell phones so I never reported it. Re: Toad knowing where you live now, she had narrowed it down to MI or OH, so I ended up telling her :-) I had thought it would be fun to keep her guessing but oh well. Sorry to hear about your big scare Kirsty! I totally understand your reaction.
Posted by: Samantha | November 11, 2007 at 07:55 PM
What was that Superintendent thinking with that message??? Couldn't he have started the whole long speech with "We received a FAKE bomb threat which was a diversionary tactic for a robbery across town." Instead of leaving that until the end??? I had just dropped off my son a half an hour before at school before receiving a call on both my cell phone and home phone simultaneously...which was a real dilemma as to which one to answer. I almost got sick to my stomach when I heard the first words of that announcement and it wasn't even directed at my son's school, but being in the same district, who knows. I couldn't believe it and was almost paralyzed with fear and not knowing what to do. I just wanted to immediately go and get my baby regardless of whether it was real or not! Earlier that week, the school had had a "lock-down drill". Another example of how this country today thrives on "scare tactics". Here my little five year old was being taught how to crouch down under the windows in case a "bad guys comes to shoot us, so the bullets will go over our heads instead of into us". I don't know WHY they can't just teach the kids to be quiet and crouch down and listen to the teacher "in case of an emergency". Why they have to describe to my innocent baby the possibility of someone coming into his school to shoot kids is totally beyond me! Although it would completely make me go batty, it makes me think that maybe home-schooling is a good alternative.
Posted by: Claire | November 14, 2007 at 10:18 PM

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