When the teacher calls ….

I am wondering how many times I need to reiterate this issue.

If my phone rings and I see that it is my children’s teacher/nanny/carer I die a little.   My heart races, my breathing gets shallow, I start to picture the worst possible scenario.  Usually involving one (or all) of my children, blood and possibly a paramedic.

I visualise kids floating face down in pools, television sets that have fallen on my kids, my kids abducted by someone, my children dead on a play ground.

I never.NEVER.never think this is a friendly how-do-you-do call.  Why do teachers/carers not get this?

I had just trained Pepe to start any conversation, should she phone me with “Isabelle is fine, no one is hurt …..” and then she can say pretty much anything after that.

Yesterday Connor’s aftercare phones.  They can’t reach me, they phones Kennith.

They open with: “Are you Connor’s father?”

Kennith: “Yes…”

School: “Your son has been involved in an accident at school, and hurt his neck…”

And then they stop talking — you know, to allow some time for the message to sink in.

This allows sufficient time for your mind to infuse with every paranoid thought it has ever had.  Your nerves bristle, your body floods with adrenaline and fear, and your bowels loosen.

As it turns out, Connor had tripped over a pipe, he had fallen off a step, and his neck had taken the full brunt of his full body weight.  Somehow his head had managed to fold itself into his chest so his neck could whack the tar with his full body weight and the momentum of his running.

It could have been very serious, fortunately it was not.

When I fetched Connor, he had a few scratches and I could see as soon as I was able to talk to him, that his neck was sore, but it was not serious or something that dinner and bowl of ice cream would not cure.  He was sitting, conscious and clearly had not sustained a serious injury.

Would have been fabulous had the school communicated that on the phone.

Do you know what it is like to drive to your kid’s school after a call of  “your child has hurt their neck, I think you should come….” ?

If you are a teacher or at any stage responsible for caring for a person’s child – please, as soon as the person answers open with: “Hello Kate/Bill/Mrs XYZ, your child is fine – there is no blood, no one is hurt, no one is dead, your child is fine.  I am looking at him/her, she/he is smiling and happily colouring in …. everything is fine … really… calm down … breath, breath, breath ….. okay?  Again nothing is wrong, Connor/Georgia/Isabelle is fine ….. brilliant in fact.  You okay?  Good.  Okay, the reason I am calling is that we would love you to sell hotdogs at the fete, can you do a shift from 1 – 3pm?”

Do teachers actually know what they do to parents with these calls?

Leave a comment


  1. Tam

     /  March 9, 2012

    I also die a little bit when I see my little girls school calling though it’s never good news its always like I think you should come and fetch your daughter she is throwing up, crying un controllably, has a fever , not herself etc, mad panic, drop everything at work, drive like a looney to get to her and there she is happily playing, smiling and laughing and I think REALLY NOW!!!! I am dreading that phone call when something is actually bad, her teacher gives me hourly bmm updates haha

  2. Tanya

     /  March 9, 2012

    Glad that Connor wasn’t seroiusly hurt. Your story reminds me of when Dan broke his arm. I took the call at work. It ended with a ride to hospital in the ambulance. The scary part is usually what happens to parents after they get these calls. The way I drove to school I think was bloody lucky to get there alive or worse not kill someone else in the process. The first thing I asked when the prinicpal met me at the car was “is there blood and are there any bones poking out?” It is nerve wracking when school rings and even though the teacher started off saying Daniel was fine it was the BUT that did it for me.

  3. Our,schoolsmboth send and sms unless,it is serious.

  4. Claire A

     /  March 7, 2012

    Oh Lordy, my heart also stops every time I see the schools number ! And it is usually to tell me cricket / gymnastics etc has been canceled.

    But my worst ever inconsiderate call was about my hubby – the office secretary called to say he had been in an accident and a helicopter is on the way to fly him to Angola, but they have no further details. And this at about 21h30 at night, for goodness sake could they not have waited until he was on land and they had more details – turns out he only chopped off his finger, which is harsh but compared to what was running thru my head………

  5. Tania

     /  March 7, 2012

    In most cases they are parents themselves so I am sure they are aware. There is no subtle way of informing a parent of their child’s injury. I get what you are saying and I indeed have that same panic attack, my heart stops for that second, I stare at the phone as I recognise the caller for what seems hours, I answer the call and hold my breath in order not to miss any thing, once done with the call, gasping for air, still in a total panic…

  6. Veronique

     /  March 7, 2012

    I feel the same!! I lose at least 10 minutes of my life everytime I see it’s the principal’s number on caller id!!
    I say, if it’s not serious, send a TEXT!! Then I know all is okay. I will respond, and will call you if neccesary.
    When they call, they really should start out by saying everything is fine/no blood, etc. Would save me alot of worry.

  7. Charlotte aka Scaredmom

     /  March 7, 2012

    I so get where you are coming from. Last week Monday Amandalynn’s school called to tell me she has friends having a party on her head! My line was busy so she could not get through, the receptionist came running into my office screaming that my child school is trying to get hold of me. WHICH school? I have 2 kids in 2 different schools? Any details???!

    After that call I told the principal to never call me again unless my child is hurt or sick and I need to fetch her. Put a message in her homework book or tell me when I pick her up.


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