It wasn’t the phone ringing that stopped my packing up of Halloween decorations around our house. It was the caller ID on the phone screen.
Glancing down, I noticed the call originated from our granddaughters’ elementary school. This could be nothing but bad news, so my mind immediately raced towards worst-case scenarios.
Teachers couldn’t get in touch with their mom, so they went to the next person on the contact list: me. Something must be horribly wrong. Did one of the Girly Girls fall and break an arm or leg, or did something even worse happen?
Answering the phone, I held my breath. On the other end of the line came the voice of the principal. A call from the principal. I was right. This was gonna be bad! Falling into a nearby chair, I braced for whatever was soon to destroy, what was up to this moment, a rather uneventful and tranquil day.
Immediately, I traveled back to that morning in the library of Mount Olive Elementary School. My on-target spitball shot through the giant floor globe had hit its mark: Down the Street Bully Brad’s right eye. The following chase around the library and down the hallway landed both of us in the principal’s office.
It was the first time I had to take that long walk down to the office. The second time was when I was a senior at Briarwood High School, home of the Mighty Buccaneers. In the office I got …
The principal’s voice pulled me back to the present. Glancing at the clock, I suddenly realized it was 5:30 in the afternoon and relaxed just a little bit. School had been out for hours, so what was the reason for the call? Was it something unrelated to the girls? Was I somehow in trouble? Was she going to ask me a bunch of questions that I didn’t know the answers to, just like Old Mrs. Crabtree did when I was in third grade at Mount Olive Elementary School? Was this some kind of special test just for grandparents?
The butterflies in my stomach took flight as I started to feel small. I hadn’t studied for the test. I wasn’t ready. I just wanted to disappear. It was the same feeling when I was lost in a test that I hadn’t studied for back in school.
Sinking further into my chair, I was right back on Flamingo Street, knowing my parents were going to yell at me for bringing home yet another bad grade. Taking a breath and bracing for the worst, I asked the girl’s principal if something was wrong. And just like all those tests back in school when I hadn’t studied, her answer wasn’t something I was prepared for.
After assuring me the Girly Girls were doing just fine in school and were wonderful to be around, she told me the reason she had called. “We need your help. Can you come to the school on Thursday?”
Getting called to the principal’s office and I’m not in trouble? Wow, things certainly had changed since I was in school.
With this news, the butterflies in my stomach settled down and I sat up in my chair to continue listening. “Thursday there will be a group here to review our school and staff. They would like to talk to parents and grandparents to get their opinions about what kind of job they feel we are doing. Where do we excel? What areas need improvements?” She went on to say, “It’s a county-wide assessment.”
They want me? Wow, I’ve been chosen! This was better than when I was picked first to be on Goofy Steve’s dodge ball team back at Mount Olive Elementary School! That year we won the third-grade dodge ball championship.
I told the principal that she and her staff have done a wonderful job with our Girly Girls over the last five years, and that I would be honored to help out anyway I could. I was just happy I wasn’t in any trouble.
Laughing at this comment, she assured me I wasn’t and didn’t have to go to the principal’s office. We were all to meet in the lunchroom. Just before hanging up the phone, I laughed and said I was glad I hadn’t done anything wrong and there wasn’t going to be a test because I hadn’t studied. There was a pause on the other end of the phone, then the principal replied, “Well, there IS a test.”
And just like that, the butterflies took flight once more as I sank back in my chair trying to disappear.
[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001.]