In case of emergency
Before school started we had to complete various online forms in addition to medical clearances and TB tests, which are all requirements in Hawaii. The online forms were all fairly standard, although I hit a stumbling block when I got to emergency contacts. One of the schools claimed that it was a state requirement to list at least two emergency contacts separate from the child's parents. Hmmm.
We didn't have extended family in Maryland, but we always had friends that lived nearby that we could list as emergency contacts. We had only been in Hawaii for a few weeks at the time, and the only people I knew were the mailman and my next door neighbour, who I met once for five minutes on the same day that they were moving out. Awesome.
I had had many conversations with people at Starbucks, although I was hardly about to list "Starbucks barista" as my emergency contact because, EVEN if that wasn't entirely weird, they couldn't get my name right on my cup much less act as my emergency contact, responsible for collecting my child.
When Hawaii was first floating in the ether as a vague possibility, I reconnected with an old friend (well, not OLD, so much as "a friend from long ago") who is an American, married to an Australian and, coincidentally, now living in Hawaii. She and her husband are incredible photographers (no, really, check them out! www.lovewaterphoto.com) living on Maui with their young baby. The irony, of course, was that they were all planning to move back to Australia not long after we moved to Hawaii.
I asked Shawn if I could use her as an emergency contact, and she happily agreed. Never mind the fact that we hadn't seen each other in ten years (although we were roommates on a trip to Nashville!) ... oh, and that she lived on a completely different island. Hawaii is small, but Maui is still another island, surrounded by water, accessible by plane. There would be no emergency collection of my child unless, say, both G and I befell some sort of simultaneous tragedy that didn't also impact our children or anyone on the other islands, in which case, yes, she would be the most sensible choice. Being the exceptional person that she is, she said that she would happily fly to the rescue if needed.
So that was one person. My other options were her husband, Adam, who I'd never met, one of G's co-workers, who I'd also never met, or the Director of Admissions at GL's school, who I had met and was perfectly lovely but which, frankly, felt a bit pathetic.
I think I ended up listing Shawn and Adam on the form that seemed quite specific, and Shawn and G on the other form that allowed me to use our own names despite being parents. On the form that required a third contact, I listed my Mum, which made zero sense given that she lives in Australia, yet still more sense than the mailman.
The best news is that on a recent trip to Oahu where we got to catch up on the last ten years, Shawn and her family made the huge and difficult decision to change their plans to go back to Australia and move here instead. I'm very excited to have my emergency contacts living on the same island and within driving distance of my children. I'm also delighted to have some friends to have coffee with that don't insist on writing my name on the cup ... (or some misspelled version thereof).