“Mrs. Allison,” she said.  “This is the school counselor.  I’d like to talk with you for a few minutes about your daughter.  We’ve noticed some marks on her body.”

And for the next few minutes, she questioned me, doing her job well.  Thoroughly.  With care.  With decades of cases and faces cataloged in the back of her mind.

Meanwhile, I sat shocked as I heard her concerns.  I explained the whole head-banging to go to sleep deal- that weird thing she’s done since she was a baby.  The rhythmic bumping of her head on her pillow, the floor, her hand that lulls her to sleep and, incidentally, also happens to inflict marks and bruises on her little forehead.  The habit that has tapered off as she’s grown but always picks back up when she’s sick.  “She has a cold, you know,” I add.

My words were calm, my thoughts anything but.

“Oh my gosh, they think I hurt my child,” I thought, half-laughing, half-crying.  “I’m in that school volunteering all the time.  We chose intentionally CHOSE this school so that we could pour into it.  We actually PRAYED over our decision to send our kids there.  And now they think I am the worst mom ever.”

Try writing a talk on parenting in the aftermath of that kind of phone call.  With those thoughts racing through your mind.

As it turns out, my children were questioned as well.  Pulled out of class to talk about these mysterious marks on my child’s body.  My naive kids, oblivious to the concept of abuse.  Just thrilled to be missing some of their math class for this novel experience of chatting with the counselor.

Ultimately, everything was smoothed over.  The school now understands my daughter’s quirky head-banging, and I thanked them for taking their job seriously.  I still adore their school, their teachers, their administration.  Maybe more than ever.

I spent the next few days in tears, completely shaken up.  And yet, in light of the countless cases of abuse I have seen in my own career- abuse that went undetected and unreported and un-cared-about, I truly was overwhelmingly grateful for professionals who care.  I was a mixed bag of emotions.



Shaken up.


As it turns out, the enemy seems to major in distraction.  At least right here in my life.  When I’m distracted, my eyes start darting all over the place- anywhere and everywhere but the path God has set out for me.  So, I stumble.  I doubt.  I look at my circumstances- the bumps and twisty turns in the road- rather than the One who guides me.  I see these tiny snippets of my life and instinctively doubt.  He sees the entire story, from beginning to end, and He just keeps loving me in my weakness.  He never leaves, even when my faith feels shaky.

Even when I utter the words, “God.  When I asked you to use me and to send me, this is not what I had in mind.  God, this is mad hard.”

Those are real words I prayed.

But these hard moments are the very things that God uses for good.  If I allow myself to remain distracted, the enemy wins.   If I believe the lies and turn a blind eye to the truth, the enemy wins.

And you know what?  I’m just not gonna have that.  I refuse.  I believe few things can frustrate the schemes of Satan like continuing to put one foot in front of the other.  Like moving forward, even when he’s convincing you to stay put.  Like believing truth when his lies tempt you to doubt.

So, that’s what I’m choosing today.  One foot in front of the other.  Confessing that, “yeah, God, following you really is mad hard sometimes.  But you are unbelievably good.  So let’s do this thing.  Together.”


5 Comments on that day the school called

  1. Catherine, God has given you a special talent in writing. I really enjoy your honesty and humor. Keep putting one foot in front of the other 🙂

  2. Love love this post and the way you handled it! I am not sure I would have been able to handle it with such grace and love! Thanks for this post!

  3. Whew, I have had this happen a few times at daycare…made even better by the fact that C likes to say the dogs did it (?!? WUT?!?)…I never know how to respond. I’m glad they ask, but boy, it smarts. At least know I know who to call when I find myself here with the public schools. 🙂 I second the above. You have a gift, and I’m so glad that you share it with us!

    • Oh man, public schools make it all the more… involved. Not to mention the fear factor of having a loose cannon of a daughter who just loves to “make up” stories. Thankfully, she told the truth this time. But blaming the dog?! Ha,sounds just like something she’d do!

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