Pearl has moved to a new school.
We’ve moved to a new house.
In the process I have inherited, temporarily, a utility provider I wouldn’t have chosen.
One of the big four.
Impossible to get hold of on the phone unless you have an entire day at your disposal.
The house has been tenanted and I have also inherited all manner of hoo haa about the month it was empty and who was responsible for the gas and electricity before we completed.
I have had two months of letters, increasing in the level of threat, about an amount that I have paid.
All the friendly people I’ve spoken to have assured me. It’s all fine.
But the letters keep piling up.
After six weeks of Extreme Special Needs parenting style summer holidays, tonnes of change of address notifications, DLA and Blue badge renewal application, this extra admin is not sitting well with me.
I am angry. And not, slightly whingey, and passive aggressive, but incandescent with rage.
I am also organized.
More than a decade wrangling with the Local Authority about provision has prepared me for any and every, eventuality.
I have bills, dates, names of customer service providers and a free morning.
I am itching for a fight and ready to wave my disability by proxy card.
I’ve even started a shaming blog post and am prepared to use the full might of my twitter and Facebook followers. (Not as many as all that, but how are they to know?)
Then Sadia answers the phone.
She is delightful, friendly and concerned.
“Oh no,” “I think.
“I don’t really want to get angry with her”.
She utters the magic words.
“I am sorry Jane. Can I call you Jane?”
Of course, she can.
“This is not good enough it should never have happened.
Stay on the line, I’m going to sort it out right now”
Local authorities, Service Providers, Governments take note.
Sorry is a word rarely used, it may admit to legal liability.
Sorry though is, ‘the soft answer that turneth away wrath’.
Instantly, I feel listened too and valued.
The rage begins to ebb away.
There is, however, still some anger remaining, and I am determined to voice all of it.
“The thing is, I have a daughter with significant special needs and, I have enough to do over the holiday without phoning you every other day. She needs constant supervision, chasing this has been impossible.”
There is a pause, and a sigh of recognition.
“I’m sorry, I know exactly what you mean. I have a child with special needs too”.
The connection is made.
The problem is shelved while we discuss, trying to juggle work and family life in the endless six-week break, and the sheer exhaustion we both feel.
Sadia goes off, sorts everything out in a few short minutes and returns.
I thank her and tell her she has prevented a complaint by her decisiveness and swift resolution of the problem.
“They are lucky to have a staff member like you.”
We both agree that patience, resourcefulness and problem-solving skills come as standard after a few years of parenting a non-typical child.
We briefly exchange stories about new terms, new schools and taxis, and wish each other well.
That is the story of how I made a phone call to a huge faceless corporation and came away having had an authentic moment of real connection, because she was good at her job, a great communicator, and because without realising, we were family.
This post comes with a heartfelt thanks to Sadia.
I wish you and your son all the best in the new school term.