Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Lost and Found

I was exhausted. The twins were exhausted. We all fell asleep. When I woke up, I was disoriented and sleepy. I looked at the clock and was surprised that I had so much time until Joseph was supposed to come home from school.

It was 45 minutes later that I realized that I was an hour off. Joseph should have been home from school already. School had been out for over an hour. He wasn't home.

Have you ever wondered how you would react if your child was missing? I thought there would be immediate tears and panicked calls to the police. Instead, I felt a great rush of ... peace. I realized that I may not handle my everday stresses well, but I'm great in an emergency. I coolly and calmly put the twins in the car, made a few phone calls, and headed out to check a few friends' houses.

It was after exhausting most of my options and then driving around aimlessly for a while that I started to lose my nerve. The school hadn't seen him. They started calling all the first graders' parents and notified the police. I started talking to neighbors, asking them to help me look. I kept driving past my house, hoping to see his bike in the garage.

Just when the police were about to get involved, a stranger drove up and asked if I was looking for Joseph. They explained that he had been at their home and they had been trying to figure out how to contact me. (Joseph used to have our phone number memorized but had forgotten it. His grandmother, however, got a message on her answering machine that worried her quite a bit.)

Then the tears started to flow. I told Joseph to get in the car and took a little drive, trying to sort out what had happened. I'll summarize by saying that Joseph had succumbed to peer pressure and gone with one of his friends to one of their friend's homes. I couldn't believe he had gone into the home of a complete stranger just because his friend "made him."

Oy. Time to revisit and revisit and revisit our safety rules, which he is usually great about obeying. (Other rules, however, are a different story.)

Thanks to my neighbors for helping me out and being willing to help out when I was calmly panicking. It's so nice to know that I'm surrounded by people who care.

Joseph didn't get in trouble, other than having to sit down and listen to the "How do you think I feel when you don't come home from school?" lecture that I vividly remember my Mom giving me when I was in grade school. But I told him that if this ever happens again, he will be grounded from now until he's 35 and have many other vague and horrible things happen to him.


  1. How scary! I'm so glad it ended well!!

  2. One time I had let my then 6 yr-old son walk up the street to a friend's house. Two hours later when I called to have him come home I was told he had never been there. I was 8 months pregnant. Police and neighbors got involved. We checked the Reams down the street, the creek banks, other friends' houses, etc, only to find that he too, had been side-tracked on the way there and found his friend at a grandparent's house halfway between our home and his initial destination. It was a nightmare where I found myself making deals with God, etc.

    Sorry it was scary.

  3. I think that is probably the worst feeling ever. I'm glad that everything is all good now.

  4. Wow! What a scary story.

    I preach and teach (or try to teach) to my kids about what to do if presented with different scenarios. I try to teach them about stranger danger: don't accept a ride from someone unless the know the family password, don't go inside anyone's house without permission from me, don't talk to strangers, etc. Still when the critical moment comes, I'm don't have a lot of confidence that they will use good judgment.

    When my two oldest were around kindergarten age, I found out that a stranger had offered them candy through the fence while they were out playing. They took it. They ate it. Arrrg! The old cliche "Don't take candy from strangers" and they broke it at the first opportunity.

    Even more scary, the other day I was in a store and an two elderly men approached my four year old daughter. They were oohing and awing over her and she was eating it up. Then one of them reached out and was stroking her hair. I was only four steps away but by the time I got over there he had asked her, "You are so beautiful, do you want to go home with me?" I hoped she would run to me in terror, but instead she just stared at him and nodded her head yes.

    The men were probably just trying to be nice and intended no harm, but my daughter failed that little test. I still regret that I didn't give those men the "what for" and tell them you that in this day and age, you CAN'T do that with kids.

    I'm so glad your story ended well. The up side is that I bet this experience will create a vivid memory for him and maybe next time he will make a better choice.

  5. oh man, what a scare! I am so glad he was safe and sound.

  6. I am so glad that he's okay. My heart just dropped into my stomach when you came by and said that he was missing. It's a mother's biggest fear! I'm so glad that all ended well.

  7. Soo Scary! I'm glad he's ok.

  8. Glad he is okay. I am in complete panic when I don't know where my kids are. A few years ago C was lost at the school carnival. I was frantic! Sister Brough, who I didn't know well at the time found her. Some older kid was leading her away from the school and Sister Brough didn't recognize the kid and grabbed C and brought her back. I was glad the spirit was with a neighbor that day.

  9. I'm so glad that you found Joseph. What a scary experience!