Sending your kids off to school each day is really an exercise of faith. I’ve thought on this before, as I contemplated the unlocked gates at the edges of the school yard, the other people driving my kids somewhere, and the open nature of the way we live. Anything can happen- and yet, mostly we coast along blissfully enjoying Normal.
Jeffrey signed up for choir a few months ago; they have a performance next Monday, so an extra practice was scheduled today. The mama I share carpool with is leading the choir, and she said she would bring Jeffrey home. Score! I usually drive the afternoon shift, so ran errands instead shuttling kids.
Heading home from errands, David was walking back from the bus-stop with Abby and Beanie. Rolling down the window we chatted “No Jeffrey yet, huh? He shook his head and hefted Bean into passenger-side window for the four-house drive home.
Hmmm- I wonder why they are taking so long? As I’m reaching for the phone to call my carpool companion, it rings, “Hello?” I don’t recognize the caller ID. ” Hello??”
“Um, may I ask who is calling, please?” Jeffrey says from the other end of the phone. “Jeffrey! Where are you?” Here is where I learn how getting accurate information from a seven-year-old boy is nigh unto impossible. He begins to ramble on about the gym, the library, the teacher is gone, there are some balls, school is empty, I wasn’t there… I am trying to piece together what he is saying, and ask him, in my best I’m Calm and not Panicking at ALL voice to please hand the phone to a grown up…
A mom takes the phone. She tells me Jeffrey is the last kid at school, everyone is gone, and should she stay with him or would I like to meet her at the YMCA?
WHAT? Holy…what…where…what happened…crap…who… how on EARTH…what? WHAT? WHAT???!
How did my kid, who was supposed to be at CHOIR practice, end up alone at his elementary school? I have a million questions, but by now I am roaring down the road, and half way to the school. I dare a cop to stop me. I cannot believe… how… WHAT?
Pulling into the school (rather, I bounce, because I hit a curb in my, er, eagerness) I see my little boy, oh so little looking, with his backpack and coat, sitting with this mom, the doors are locked, the lights are out, everyone has gone home.
Jumping from the car, I gather him in my arms, hug/squeeze him as tight as I can, which quickly turns into dontyoueverdothisagainyoungman, doyouhearme!
The mom tells me she was there with her kids playing in the gym, and as the other kids went home, Jeffrey was the last kid. When it was time for her to go, she didn’t want to leave him there. She offered her phone so he could call home. I thank her profusely, embarassed and chagrinned and releived and confused and sick all at the same time.
Jeffrey safely buckled into MY car, we head home. “So what the heck happened, Jeffrey? Why were you in the gym and not at choir practice? Do you know how much that frightened me and dad?” I heard a convoluted and confusing story of the library, wandering around, playing with some kids, checking where I normally pick him up, and then deciding playing in the gym was a good idea.
I call my carpool mama. She is freaking out. She had no idea. When Jeffrey didn’t show up for Choir, she just assumed I had picked him up, since it wasn’t a regular practice day.
“Why didn’t you go to choir, Jeffrey? AND WHY ON EARTH.. oh hell. I give up until we get home.
David and I sit down in the kitchen with him and try to figure out what happened. Near as we can tell, and it’s still spotty:
- He says he forgot it was choir day, but on pressing from Dad, he says he doesn’t want to be in choir anymore.
- After wandering around looking for me, he just opted to hang out and play, and after a while, all the other kids went home, and he was the only one left.
All while I was assuming my kid was safely at choir practice and would be home safely, like he is every day. I’m still reeling. I can’t figure out if this is all my fault, if this is crossed wires, if this is Jeffrey being an innocent little kid, if I need to go to the school and ring some necks, if this was Jeffrey being a naughty twerp and skipping choir…
I mean WHAT IF THAT MOM HAD JUST LEFT!?!? Oh, the WHAT-IFS are just going to kill me on this one…
Do I go to the school? Clearly, at home we are revising and laying down some Law- but this is just… it’s too… AUuuuugh! I just can’t believe it… I need a tranquilizer.