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.