I messed up last night. In a split second, but really throughout the evening too. My 8 year old daughter is sick. Not bad, bad, but still. Low fever, booger stuff, belly stuff. I got the text from her mom in the morning to be on the lookout. She goes to the school I work at and I checked in with her a couple times. Once during gym. She seemed fine, active, until I asked her. It’s a fine line with a child – even upfront, trustworthy kids like mine, whether they suddenly remember they don’t feel well because they were genuinely distracted, or, you know.
On most Tuesdays my guys get grandparent time (mine) – they feed them and hang out so I can hit the gym and not get home at like 10 PM. So we did that and she was sleepy when I got there but half the time both of them are sleeping when I get there because their sleep habits are not the greatest. Then I had to pick up my eldest’s dry cleaning for DECA state tomorrow and search for some stuff for character day on Friday since I was going to be over that way and stop at the ATM to get cash for state DECA and on and on. She was a trooper. The telltale should have been when she opted not to pick a candy at the store.
Then the moment of truth. The moment of utter failure. She immediately whispered to her mom that a teacher told her she shouldn’t come to school in the morning. Her mom echoed this loud enough for me to hear. I replied that none of the teachers told me this, just instinctively, a fact. It was the gym teacher who she was helping after school and no doubt running down her symptoms. Her mom said this was a real tough time at work for her to take off. No sooner were those words out than I was doing that half-second teacher calculation = 2 big lessons in 2 critical classes left in units before the final, can’t do “sub plan” sub plans because those things MUST be taught, I have a half day Thursday for SEL task force at the junior high, intervention kids really need to meet with me in the morning, I have 3 different book clubs that need switching out books tomorrow, and on and on.
I looked at my daughter and said it would be hard for me to get a sub too. So I told her that if she was sick we would make it work, but she had to make sure she was actually sick. The 15 seconds walk to the car was all I needed to process all of it. I immediately texted her mom and told her to take the temp and let me know so I could order a sub and do plans, etc. By the time I got home she had talked to her boss and is now staying home with the kid, despite voicing the fact that this would be difficult for her. I messed up.
I was focused on the 40-something other kids on my plate. I was focused on work. I was focused on me. Spread so thin, I guess, I couldn’t narrow it.
And of course those are all excuses for not doing what dads should. Not sharpening my brain precisely enough to sort priorities properly. And I was kicking myself all night and am continuing to today. Realistically these units could be pushed a day. I could have cobbled together plans. I could be in jammies watching Sam n Cat and iCarly and Clarence. Getting grad work done while she naps. Being there for her when needed most. But I’m not. I can dwell in this or learn. Right now I’ll take that first step and stop wallowing in how it affects me, and focus on my baby girl getting better.
I’m thinking a little more of that should make me better eventually too.