Thursday, March 25, 2010

The first thing you need to know is that everything turned out fine.

On Angus's first day of Junior Kindergarten, we put him on the bus in the morning, took a few pictures, then watched the bus drive off. Matt went to work and I did who knows what for two and a half hours, then walked back down the street to wait for him to come home on another bus. Instead, a car drove up, and his teacher got out. She had parked on the other side of the street because of the direction she was driving, and as she walked across the street she was saying: "He's fine, there's a problem with paperwork with the bus company, he's fine, so he couldn't get on the bus and I'm not allowed to drive him because of insurance, he's fine, he's waiting in the office." Was it not brilliant of her to open with 'he's fine'? Anyway, I walked home with Eve, stuck her in the car seat and went to pick up my completely unperturbed son who was charming the office staff, then went home and called the bus company and tore a strip off some hapless employee. The next day he came home on the bus.

When I was in University, my sister and one of our high school friends were driving from Sudbury to Toronto and they hit a bear. They were unhurt, but both the car and the bear sustained some fairly serious damage. The OPP called my Mom in the middle of the night and said "Your daughter has been in an accident". They then provided some more details, and as the phone was being passed from one person to another my mother heard a women say "I think I just gave some poor lady a heart attack.". So my sister talked to my mother and then Rachelle asked my Mom to call her parents. So my Mom calls her Mom and what's the first thing she says? "The girls have been in an accident!" They really should give lessons on this kind of thing.

Angus has been walking to my Mom and Dad's house after school since October, because Eve was given a spot on the bus but he wasn't, and she loves taking the bus so much. A few weeks ago Eve observed that Angus was getting an inequitable amount of Grandma-time, so we decided that she would go to my Mom and Dad's after school on Wednesdays. I asked her if she wanted my Mom to come and get her, and she said she'd like to walk by herself. I said let's call Grandma and see what she thinks, thinking my mother would stomp decisively on that little notion and I wouldn't have to be the bad guy. Silly me. My Mom said sure, that sounds fine. And okay, it's only two blocks, and there's a crossing guard that can see her practically the whole time, and you have to let them be independent at some point, and it's school dismissal time so there are so many people around (many that know her) that really, what could go wrong? So I said okay, somewhat reluctantly.

The first two times it went off without a hitch. Actually, the first time my Mom started walking out to meet her and ended up walking her almost the whole way and Eve was not impressed. The second time she walked by herself and she was terribly proud. Today my Mom called at 3:02 (dismissal is at 2:45) and said she wasn't there yet. My Dad had gone out to check for her. I called the school (and yes, I was worrying that they were going to judge me for letting my seven-year-old walk two blocks on her own )and the secretary tracked down her teacher. The teacher said she had seen written in her agenda that she was walking to my Mom's, and she'd reminded her. She said she'd go outside and check and call me back. I hung up and my Dad drove into my driveway. I went out and we basically just stared at each other. My chest felt like a burning sheet of metal. My mind was crowded with horrors. My Dad said he was going to drive back to the school. I called my Mom back and there was no answer.

My Mom called maybe four minutes later. Eve was playing at the park. My Mom explained that this wasn't a good thing to do when anxious people were counting on her prompt arrival to forestall heart attacks and cerebro-vascular incidents. Eve understands this now.

Maybe six minutes or so I didn't know where she was or what had happened to her. For some people, this six minutes is the rest of their life. I am so profoundly grateful that today I am not one of those people.

16 comments:

Mary Lynn said...

I can just imagine how long those 6 minutes felt to you. Oy. Glad it wasn't any longer than that for Eve to be found.

Lanita Moss said...

On the second day of kindergarten, the bus picked my daughter up and took her to school. I knew I had until 4:00 to run errands and get stuff done. At noon, I got a phone call from the school saying she was fine, but there was a little mix up on the morning kindergarten bus. My daughter wasn't supposed to be on the morning kindergarten bus, she was supposed to be at the YMCA afternoon class...across the hall from her kindergarten room. She tried arguing with her teacher, but the teacher insisted she was to get on the bus. When the bus reached our house and I wasn't home, the driver took her back to school where her afternoon teacher was freaking out. To this day, 6 years later, the kindergarten teacher has NEVER apologized for almost losing my kid. I guess I hold grudges a long time.

Amber said...

That sounds like a pretty scary 6 minutes. I'm glad that you told us everything turned out fine up front. And I'm glad that Eve understood why everyone was freaking out.

Lynn said...

Oh my God, heart attack. Yesterday the Little Miss ran away from me and I lost her for about 20 seconds, which felt like 20 years. This morning I have 20 new grey hairs. I completely empathize!

Julie said...

even though you started off with "everything turned out fine" my heart is pounding. love angus' teacher for knowing how to start of that first conversation. love even more that eve is fine and hopefully has the fear of god instilled in her and will never be late again! ;-)

happy thoughts.

Pam said...

Holding my breath there for a bit. I'm glad you titled the way you did! It is a terrible feeling having lost your child, even for a minute. We had a similar incident on the beach once. Why does making them be independent have to be so stressful?!

NoisyBluebird said...

So happy she is o.k. Holly also craves independance and it's so hard to let go. I know what you mean about phone calls from the school too. Every time the school calls I fear Aidan's had a severe allergic reaction or asthma attack. They always open with 'Mrs. Smith, good morning, Aidan is fine.' I pray this will always be the case...

suzicate said...

You just brought my heart out of my chest. I remember that feeling...same scenario with one of my children. I am thankful Eve is ok.

The Mayor! said...

OH Allison! I too felt sick just reading it! I am so thankful that she was alright, & that I have my almost 12 year old son walking his 2 little sisters, & next year all 3sisters, every day the 3 blocks to school. But when he is home sick, my 9 & 1/2 yr old daughter still isn't allowed to walk with the almost 7 yr old daughter & I drive them....HE was allowed at 9, & they have always had at least 2 of them together...SHE may have been allowed this year but for one thing...Tori Stafford. I cried for days over that little girl. The sad truth is, my son is pretty much past the age of being a target, because he's a boy. My girls are not. The sadder truth is that the personality of my almost 10 year old daughter is such that she would easily have gone off with some lady with a puppy, just as Tori did. Frankly, this has been one of the toughest parenting decisions for me, but it comes down to your surroundings/community, & the individual personality of the kids. Our community & school are very small, the crossing guard knows my kids by name & can see them the whole way, BUT, we are tucked right off of 2 main streets making for lots of strange "through" traffic, & between us & the school is park/forest area, easy for dragging off a kid into the woods. And my oldest daughter could easily be suckered by a sad story. And when I weigh out giving them their independence over having them home safe every night, I wind up looking for someone who will come & put tracking chips in them while they're sleeping...LOL....

Amber Dusick said...

Wow, those 6 minutes must have been hell. When we are at the market or a park and mere 6 seconds go by when my 3 year old is behind a tree or the cart I panic. Oy, that sharp stabby sinking feeling. Like razor butterflies in my belly. Thanks for the "everything was fine" title though, good advice on properly delivering news like that. I'll remember that!

alison said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
alison said...

Two weeks ago, I was in an all-day meeting in an office building not my own. I kept my cell on in case anyone needed to reach me. At 9:30 (school starts at 8:15) my cell rang.

I excused myself and left the meeting room as I answered it. It was the school secretary, who breezily said, "Oh, hi, this is Debby from the school. So you have Leah at home with you today?" I stopped my pacing, clearly remembering dropping Leah and her sister at the sitters, the schoolbus visible in the distance. "No," I said in a very measured tone, "She's at school today." (Just once, she was home sick and I forgot to call the school, and I received a call like this one and was very apologetic.)

"Oh," said the secretary, "I'll check with her teacher.", "Yes, please do that." I then endured three or four long scary minutes of Muzak on hold with the stabby sinking razor butterflies Amber described so accurately flying around in my stomach before the secretary came back on the line and said, "She's here. Everything's OK. Her teacher had marked 'absent' beside Leah's name instead of another student's name by mistake."

Took two years off my life, I swear.

BeachMama said...

Oh my that would have been the longest six minutes of my life! And I am reading this before leaving my kids for the first time, silly me ;)

Shan said...

Wow, scary for sure. Last night I sent my 7 year old to put out the recycling. She had the plastics and I followed seconds later with the cardboard and she was nowhere to be seen, the recycling box dropped haphazardly at the side of the road. I looked up and down the street. None of her friends were outside playing. The street was empty. I just dropped what I had in my hands and started hollering her name. She went around the other side of the house and into the backyard that way. Took years off my life.

Dionna @Code Name: Mama said...

I think I would have had a heart attack. Sometimes my 2 yr old runs around a corner in the grocery store and I am momentarily breathless until he is in sight.
Being a mama is scary stuff!

See Kate run. said...

Even though I knew she was fine (you said so!), my heart stopped.

My little boy has disappeared once or twice, out the front door toward the van and *poof*, he's evaporated. I panicked both times. Both times he'd dashed off the the backyard, and once he looped back through the house. I'm sure this was all just to ensure my quote of gray hairs.