I know just when to leave to pick up my son Jorgen from kindergarten: 10:42 am. If I leave any later, I can't get that good parking spot along the curb. Then I'll have to get out of my warm car, and walk across a treacherous icy parking lot in order to be seen by my boy.
It's very important to be on time. I was five minutes late one day and found him sitting on a bench with his teacher, crying his eyes out. He was certain that I had abandoned him. I realized just how important it is for kids to be able to depend on their parents. Since then we've talked about reasons that I might be a few minutes late and that he should not be worried. He is a little more forgiving now, but I'm still terrified of being even a few minutes late.
Today, however, my plans went very awry. I left my car lights on this morning, and of course the battery ran down. It had already been weakened by a weeklong cold snap that saw temps drop to -30 degrees F.
I ran around the parking lot trying to find someone who could give my battery a jump, but there was no one. Now it's 10:44, time to go into crisis management mode. I ran back to my office and by 10:46 I was on the phone to the school , trying to get a message to my son. By 10:50 I had managed to reach Jane, my wife: good mother she is, she canceled her staff meeting and headed off to get Jorgen.
But what if I hadn't reached her? Who could I have called? What what I have done.
In our two-income family, our lives run like clockwork most of the time. There's not much time to spare in our day. Not much margin for error. When something unexpected like this happens, it is very stressful.
I realize now the need for a backup plan. Actionable items for the day: put the phone number for the school in my cell phone, as well as the numbers for the cab service and a tow truck. Think of some people I could rely on in an emergency (that one will be hard) and establish a "password" with my child for days when someone else might have to pick him up. And be certain to turn my lights off when I get to work.