no. 635 – Gone Missing

Want to hear a funny story?

It’s not really funny, but kind of tragically-funny and it’s about XBoy and his most recent school adventure (I can’t hope but help that he gets his personality from me so that we won’t be prematurely gray(er) when Murdock reaches this stage. However, I’m fairly certain he’s getting all of this from his father).

A few days ago I received a phone call from Mr. DD who said that the school had just called him. Since it was about a half hour after school had been dismissed, I figured it was because my mother, who said she would pick up XBoy, forgot; therefore he was sitting at school waiting for his ride home.

Instead I was told that one of XBoy’s friends, Zeke, was missing and it was suspected that he left with XBoy and my mother.

The hairs curled on the back of my neck and the prickly sweat caused by adrenaline broke out in my armpits.

I told Mr. DD that my mother had asked if it was OK for XBoy to get a milkshake before his swim lessons which started a couple hours after school, so Mr. DD volunteered to hit the streets, or what we fondly refer to as "Burger Row" to see if he could spot my Mom’s car.

In the meantime, I agreed to run home to see if they were there. Yes, I tried calling our house phone several times, but there was no answer.

When I turned down the lane I saw my Mom’s car, which was good since Mr. DD had called to let me know he hadn’t had any luck. When I walked up to the mudroom from the garage, I could see through the window XBoy starting off on an ice cream cone. I opened the door and asked him if Zeke was with him. Before he could answer, Zeke popped around the corner, "Yep!"

I just about died.

I looked over at my Mom and told her in what I hoped did not sound like screeching and informed her that Zeke’s Mom has no idea where he is. "Oh…well I heard the phone ringing but I didn’t know where it was, and he told me that his mother knew he was with XBoy."

I was too upset to respond. Instead I instructed both XBoy and Zeke to get in the van as we were going back to school. XBoy, who was realizing he was in deep poo, didn’t want to go. I insisted – strongly.

With the boys loaded in the van, ice cream cones still in hand, we jetted back to the school, which I had already called to confirm that I had Zeke.

Once we arrived, I escorted them both into the principal’s office. Zeke was oblivious. XBoy was reluctant and scared. The principal briefly talked with the boys, reviewing their policy about permissions, while I stood quietly in the corner. He was very calm and patient with them, but you could feel the underlying tension.

XBoy and I left Zeke in the principal’s office as he made more phone calls. When we stepped outside, XBoy burst into tears.

I told him that I didn’t blame him and I wasn’t angry, just scared. We had two six year olds discussing a playdate and ultimately convincing themselves that it would be OK; on top that, telling my Mom, a woman from a place and generation that never locked the car when in town, that everyone was in the know…well, it was a situation where no one person could be blamed.

I never informed the school that my mother was picking up XBoy (yes, I should have), but they let him go without a second thought. Why would they blink if there were two? How could the teachers standing outside know who is to be released to whom? My Mom, bless her heart, should have known a little better. Instead I had to lecture her a bit (after I had calmed down), that I would have told her if someone else was coming home with XBoy.

From start to finish, it was an hour. But I’m sure within those 60 minutes, Zeke’s Mom aged a million years. We’ve "lost" XBoy at Target once when he was two and that was just for a handful of minutes, and the thoughts that went through my head…they are thoughts every person has when you get that phone call in the middle of the night or when your caller ID shows up as the daycare or school or when you yourself were a child and you turned around and found not one familiar face in a crowd.

I’m not happy that this happened, but I guess if Zeke had to be lost, I am glad that he was somewhere safe, with my Mom, enjoying an ice cream cone with a friend.