One Friday morning a few weeks ago, I dropped my two boys at school and hopped in a taxi to go to the airport. I rarely travel anywhere without my family, so it all felt strange and exciting.
Soon after I landed, I got a call from the school nurse. She is an outstanding, but conservative medical practitioner, so I wasn’t surprised to get the call. She reported that my son had been complaining about a rash and tightness in his throat after eating a cupcake in class. She thought he might be having an allergic reaction.
He’s never had an allergic reaction to anything, so I wasn’t too worried. If I were there though, I would have walked around the block and checked on him myself.
But I was gone.
A few minutes later, I got a call from my wife (she was now the one on point) saying the nurse called and my son’s reaction was getting worse and he needed to be picked up.
Whenever I talk about the reasons I stay at home, very high on the list is the fact that my wife never has to drop everything to pick up a sick kid or take the kids to the doctor. She’s supposed to be able to focus on the work that funds our livelihood.
But I was gone.
Not even two minutes later, I got a frantic call from my wife saying that the nurse administered an epipen and called 911. My wife was struggling to find a cab and couldn’t get downtown in time to meet the ambulance.
Another big reason I stay at home is that we want to have someone nearby in the case of an emergency. I’m supposed to hold my son’s hand when he gets a shot. I’m supposed to be there to hug him during the ambulance ride. I’m supposed to be the one that talks to the doctors at the hospital, the one that comforts him as he gets poked and prodded, the one that sits with him while the doctors try to figure out what the hell happened.
But I was gone.
It turns out the school principal held his hand while the nurse gave him his epipen. His teacher held his hand and comforted him during the ambulance ride to the hospital and stayed with him until my wife arrived a few minutes later to find him resting comfortably.
While I was gone, I learned that the brilliant educators and staff in our school are also kind, gentle, and exactly the people I would want caring for my son if we weren’t available.
Early on, I had called one of the moms I know and asked her to check on my son in the nurse’s office. I learned later on that several moms were checking in not just to see if my older son was okay, but also with my younger son’s teacher to make sure someone was picking him up. They were coordinating amongst themselves to see would be best to bring him home and keep him comforted.
While I was gone, I learned that I live in a caring community full of people that will back us up in a time of need.
Of course, all of my wife’s colleagues understood why she needed to run out of the office, and why she had to miss meetings and conference calls.
While I was gone, I confirmed something I already knew– my wife is my parenting partner and together, we’ll work through anything that comes our way.
The principal, his teacher, and the parents that checked on him all said that my son was astoundingly calm and brave. He was calm as his throat was closing. He was calm has he had a needle jammed into his thigh. He was calm in the ambulance and at the hospital. It wasn’t until my wife arrived and he saw that she was crying that he gave himself permission to cry too.
While I was gone, I learned that my son is growing up and that he’ll be okay even if I’m not with him for every tough moment. That said, nothing like this better happen when I travel again in January.