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.