It is every parents fear, losing a child. The fear of some stranger grabbing them, the fear of them simply wandering off in the store.
One of my older brothers, I have three older brothers, had a propensity for wandering off. He got lost at the zoo at least a couple of times, each time telling the Zookeeper he was Batman, a favorite Halloween costume becoming an obsession. Somehow I made it through those toddler and young years without ever losing one of my kids (unless I blocked out some traumatic memory).
But yesterday I lost my son- my 11-year-old.
The middle school gets out 30 minutes before the grade school. Usually Lucas, my oldest, will walk from the middle school over to the grade school where I will pick them all up. Our grade school has early-out day every Monday. The middle school only has early out day once a month; yes, confusing schedules to keep track of. Most Mondays I actually pick up the grade school kids first and then pick him up in front of his school.
Last week for parent teacher conference it was early out day for both schools the entire week. This morning as I dropped Lucas off he asked when their early out day was, I told him the 17th and so that today I would pick him up in front of his school.
I got to the school and waited in the pick-up line, getting caught up in a long conversation on Facebook in blogging group I am part of. The line began to move and finally I made it around the corner. I looked and searched the crowd of kids and did not see Lucas. The line seemed to stall for a bit and a few more kids wandered out of the gates. I moved a little further up and still could not find him. Maybe he was talking with some friends, maybe he wasn't paying attention. I made it to the front of the line and there was no doubt he was not there.
I rolled down the window and asked the proctor if any of the classes were getting out late. I told her I couldn't find my son and that usually he walks across the street to the grade school but not on Monday's. She tried to radio up to the office but no one was answering.
If only he had a cell phone I thought. I texted Eric telling him I couldn't find Lucas. He immediately called wondering what was happening. I quickly explained and then thought of his friend Steven. His friend Steven has a phone and always rides his bike home. I search through my contact, I did not have Steven's number. Why do I not have his number? I have his mom's number though. I texted his mom asking for Steven's number explaining that I couldn't find Lucas. I was trying to remain calm but the anxiety and worry was definitely creeping up. I guessed that he had walked across the street to the grade school. Once he got over there he would probably see that there were no cars and would come back to the middle school, or maybe he wouldn't? Should I go? I decided to make the loop around the grade school. There were cars there waiting to pick up afternoon kindergartners but definitely not the line like there usually would be, but also no Lucas.
I drove back to the middle school, through the pick-up line I had been in and there he was walking up having returned from the grade school after realizing his mistake. I had never been so grateful to see him, my lost son found!
So if you make it past the toddler and preschool years, be careful as you might still lose a child.