Have you ever had one of those nightmares where whatever happens, there are these automatons like something straight from a sci-fi horror film, devoid of any humanity, who keep saying to you: “SORRY-IT’S-SCHOOL-POLICY.”?
Well, I seemed to find myself in one yesterday. After having to change one of those delightful last-minute poos courtesy of Tiddles McGee, I set off for the school already slightly late in the rainy-day traffic, faced the Bitch Fight Plus over parking, finally found a spot, changed The Pixie’s shoes for gumboots because she didn’t want to get her feet wet and then put everyone’s raincoats on. Then we sprinted through the rain to the classroom, arriving out of breath and decidedly soggy a grand total of five minutes after the bell.
“Are we okay?” I asked hopefully, with the kind of face that Mr Justice likes to sport when he really ruly wants me to let him go on the computer to shoot aliens.
The teacher immediately glanced at the clock and said “Well… No. Sorry. You’ll have to get a Late Pass.”
It was her hesitation that was like a punch in the stomach. “Come on!” I found myself saying. “We’re only five minutes late! Give me a break! Have you seen what the parking is like out there?”
And then, pointing out the window with dramatic effect: “It’s raining!”
“Sorry, it’s school policy. I’ve just got to follow the rules,” she replied, shrugging her shoulders as if to say “What’s a teacher who’s an absolute stickler for those rules to do?”.
“I do realise that,” I replied, my tone perhaps a little more forceful than it should have been. “But I’m going to bring it up with Brett because I’m quite frankly Not Happy with that policy. It shames my child! And it shames me!”
At which point, she actually let us off. And I might have just slunk back to my car to lick my wounds, except that another teacher appeared and helpfully threw fuel onto the fire by asking me, in an ever-so-very-slightly patronising tone, to go to the principal’s office as it was “inappropriate” for me to be talking like this in front of the children because I might be “making them scared”.
Way to go, lady! All she had to do was recognise that I was a Woman on the Edge and maybe say “Hey, having a bad day? Come over to the office and let’s talk about it over a cup of tea and a Milk Arrowroot?” but nooooooooo. She had to further chastise me.
Now, I’d like to be able to say that I then said “Don’t make me angry… You won’t like me when I’m angry!!” shortly before my skin turned green and all my clothes ripped off and I went running through the school tipping over rubbish bins. But no, instead I became the Incredibly Pathetic Crying Lady, a lesser known Marvel Comics superhero.
At which point, the teacher threw in a “Sorry, it’s school policy” just to really get the boot in.
I made my way, head bowed and, with the call of “Late Woman Walking! Late Woman Walking Here!” all around me, I went to the School Office. There, I found myself sobbing (still pathetically) in front of a bunch of strangers, demanding (in between sobs) to see Brett to tell him I was a victim of A Terrible Injustice in the form of a Green Slip of Paper That I Simply Didn’t Deserve.
But rather than have the doors to Brett’s office opening to reveal him there with a lovely cup of tea patting a comfy chair for me to come sit with him and have a heart-to-heart, I was told that he was “in meetings all day”. And then given the “Sorry, it’s School Policy” line AGAIN which just made me want to shout “Is it school policy to say ‘Sorry, it’s school policy?'”. But since I was already crying, any impact that line might have had would have been completely lost so I just said “Blaththbabbllllaaaaaaa (sniff)” instead, wrote my name and telephone number down for somebody to ring me later, and left with the younger children in tow.
A few hours later, after a phonecall from the Vice Principal where the “Sorry, it’s school policy” line was predictably dragged out again, I decided on my own Late Pass Policy from this day forth. The next time we’re running even slightly late, I’m not going to risk busting a gut to get my child to his class on time, only to be turned away at the door. Oh, no. Not I. Instead I’ll switch on ABC Kids for the kids while I pour myself a second coffee, and then, at about 9:30am, I’ll drive to the school, get a park right outside the gate, totally skip the usual morning rush for late passes at the office and be seen to immediately by less stressed staff, and deliver my child to his class with a smile and with green slip in hand. Same result but no rushing! No shaming! No problem!
Somehow, I don’t think that’s what the founders of the School Policy had in mind when they wrote it, but that’s what it’s come to. If they’re not going to cut me some slack, I’m just going to have to cut myself some. And when they ask me why my child is so late so often, I’m going to say “Sorry, It’s My Policy.” Just. Watch. Me.