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In an emergency, contact... who?

Halfway through my memoir class this morning, I got a phone call from an unfamiliar number. Not school, at least, I thought, only to answer the phone to hear the 'hello' of my sister, Hannah. "Truman's school called," she said. "He's really sick and needs to be picked up." Luckily, I was relatively close to school -- only 2.5 miles away -- and headed out, making apologies to the other students and myself. Yet another sickness (strep throat, this time) has hit the kinders.

My two local sisters are the emergency contacts on just about every form I complete: they're nearby, they're usually easy to reach, I know they'd be there for me in an emergency. Of course, in a really non-emergency like this -- a coughing kid who has to be taken home -- it would be crazy to ask them to leave work, driving three times as far as I have to bike to pick up my children (and then what?). Hannah has two little girls, one an infant who recently underwent heart surgery; Abby is pregnant. Both are teachers and it would be a real hardship to leave class suddenly in the middle of the day, not to mention, I don't want to expose them to my kids' kindergarten germs.

Unless it is really an emergency, then, the emergency contacts are just there to help get in touch with me -- and sometimes I feel a bit panicked about how little backup there is. My closest friends have jobs and kids of their own; I'd hardly want to add their names to the form. Their own provide enough in the way of emergencies. And I'm relatively lucky: I have my sisters both within a 25-minute drive, my parents just an hour away. I have to wonder about the many mamas I know whose families are unavailable, either across the continent, or gone physically or emotionally from their lives.

Do you, too, ever roll your eyes at those emergency contact lines and think, --I'm all they've got if you want to be honest about it. --Good luck with that. --Let's just keep my cell phone batteries juiced and call it a day? Do you ever panic about it? Or have you found a creative solution, made your own community, or put a nanny or other paid caregiver on the form?


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Having moved here just 5 years ago, I feel your pain. I did have one friend who already lived in Portland and I made fast friends with neighbors who had kids similar ages to mine. Agree to be emergency contact for their kid if you can put them down for yours.

Have struggled with this since kiddo was born 4.5 years ago. Friends in town are listed on the form but they have jobs & kids of their own. Will have to cross that bridge again when we start kinder.

I used to put my brothers down, thinking blood was thicker than water. But, even if they are family, I think they might be less inclined to help out in a pinch than good friends. So, they've since been replaced with friends, who I know would step up. I also trust that those friend would be near their cell phones most of the day. I'm not even sure that I have told those friends that they're our kids' emergency contacts, but I know they wouldn't hesitate to help out when called upon!

I am almost always near the phone and I will pick up if it is the school. I have fielded calls when I have been out of town. So, even if I am not able to pick up right away, I am able to orchestrate the plan of attack when they call me first.

We chose good friends too (no close family in town). One is a family with both kids in our school and a parent at home and the other really close friends we know would do whatever was needed in an emergency. Important side note: both families have big cars and car seats enough for their kids *and* ours.

As a friend of a mama with no family in town, I can say that I am flattered and happy to help out whenever her baby is sick or she or her husband need anything. That's what friends are for. And it makes me feel very lucky to have family close by... I have to pay it forward.

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