How the 24 Hour Rule Saved the Day…
My oldest child started high school this year. I skip many school informational meetings for my younger children because, well, how many times, really, does a parent need to go to Kindergarten night? Generally the information doesn’t change too much between children. For my firstborn, though, I show up for the meetings because her progression through school is all new to me.
Emma is an athlete, and because we are new to high school athletics, I found myself in a crowded auditorium a few months ago with all the other newbie high school parents, listening to the athletic director. He shared many of the details that are important for freshman parents to know. Then he went on to explain a rule that they ask parents to follow. It is called “The 24 Hour Rule.”
The 24 Hour Rule is actually quite simple. If a parent is frustrated or upset about a situation that involves a coach, the school administration has asked that parents wait 24 hours before contacting the coach. There are obvious exceptions in the case of an endangerment of safety to students, of course.
Your kid doesn’t get the playing time you think he should have in a game? Wait 24 hours to speak to the coach. Your daughter feels like the coach is being too hard on her? Wait 24 hours to speak to the coach. You think an issue should be handled differently? Wait 24 hours to speak to the coach.
Why 24 hours? Well, let’s face it in 24 hours, not only can heated emotions cool, it also gives time for reason and more information to come to light. 24 hours can save a parent from acting like a fool and protect coaches from an unwarranted verbal lashing.
I found myself very grateful for having heard about the 24 hour rule within weeks because I would’ve looked like an idiot had I not waited 24 hours before acting. Emma’s cross country coach told us at his informational meeting that practice would be done at 5:15 each evening. The vast majority of evenings, Emma was ready for pick up at 5:15 on the nose.
A Comedy of Errors
One day, I got a text from Emma that they were moving practice offsite and she would need picked up at another location, about 7 minutes farther away from our house. The kids occasionally traveled away from the school, but generally that was announced ahead of time. I looked at the clock and made a mental note of my departure time change so that I could leave earlier than planned to adjust for the increased travel time.
At around 4:30, Emma texted again and said that they were wrapping up and that I should come get her now. Obviously, this was even earlier than I had anticipated for a 5:15 pick-up. I paused my task and headed to the van. About 10 minutes down the road, in the opposite direction of the high school, she texted again and said, that the kids, in fact, were being transported back to the high school and I should pick her up there. Ugh.
I turned around and headed to the high school. Then, I sat…and waited…for about 20 minutes, in the high school parking lot. During that 20 minutes, I stewed on the fact that my daughter’s pick up from practice was going to cost me an hour of my day by the time we made it back to the farm. My irritation grew to anger as the minutes ticked on.
When Emma arrived back at the high school and climbed into my van, I told her just how frustrated I was at how the afternoon had unfolded. I also told her I planned on telling her coach that unscheduled offsite practices, without warning to parents whose children are not yet independent drivers, were just not going to work for our family. My time to help her younger brothers with homework had been interrupted and my whole dinner prep time had been devoured.
When we arrived home, I was thinking on how I would approach her coach about this issue. In the back of my mind was the 24 hour rule. As I made dinner, I continued to reflect on the afternoon, and a humbling reality settled on me. Emma had gotten into my van at the high school at right around 5:15. Gulp. My frustration had been focused on Emma’s coach because I got the run around this afternoon. In fact, though, he had the kids, ready for pick up at the high school at 5:15, just like every other day.
The realization struck me that the coach had no responsibility for the afternoon’s events. Suffice it to say, Emma and I had a discussion about asking questions and getting a hold of the facts before relaying details to me or her dad. Really, it was a comedy of errors that could’ve been resolved with a simple question to her coach. “Coach, will my mom still pick me up at the high school after practice, or should I ask her to pick me up at the offsite location?” Had this question been posed, I would’ve left my house at 5:05 and been home 20 minutes later, with a whole lot less angst.
Do you see how the 24 hour rule saved her coach and me both? What a fabulous guideline to live by. I am sure it won’t be the only time we practice this rule in our house, and in relation to more than just coaches.