There were two minutes left in the lunch break. I grabbed my cell phone to turn it off just as it rang in my hand. "School nurse" flashed on my screen and my heart started pounding. I had programmed "school nurse" in my phone for the nurse's direct line so whenever I got a general message from the school I wouldn't have this reaction. The heart pounding, trouble breathing, I-think-I'm-going-to-be-sick feeling.
The nurse explained that my daughter had fallen off the monkey bars at school and was in a lot of pain. I could hear her sobbing in the background which is when I knew she was really hurt. I asked the nurse if I could talk to my daughter. When she was on the phone, I asked her to take a few deep breaths with me. As she started to calm down, I told her to sit tight and that Dad was already on his way to the school (dear apple, thank you for making the iphone so I can be on the phone and texting at the same time!).
I was facilitating a full day training and still had the afternoon to go. Panicking, I called my dear friend, Joe Vansyckle, to ask if he could come cover for me. He couldn't. But he did something better - by asking a few simple questions, he helped me get clear on the next right thing to do. The only thing to do.
When I explained to the leader what had happened, she said, "Go! We will figure out what to do about the training later. Family comes first." And with that, several of the team members ushered me out the door. One helped me pack up my things and another announced to the class that I had to leave for my daughter.
Several x-rays told the story that she fractured her arm and in four weeks, she will be good as new. There's another story here, though. It's a story about a workplace that didn't make me choose between work and family. It's a story about a workplace who even though they had spent months preparing for the training I was there to offer, didn't give it a second thought when I had to leave.
Thank you to Ann Bruner, of the Washington State Department of Licensing's Information Services Division. That moment that may have seemed small to you meant the world to me.
Amy Leneker, MPA, is a joy-seeking, optimistic recovering perfectionist and the founder of Compass Consulting Team.