Every Parent's Worst Nightmare

Want to see me age 20 years and gain grey hair in a matter of a few heartbeats? Have my son go missing for a few hours.

The Crisis

I get off work at 3:30PM. I got home at 3:40PM. Josh doesn't have his key this week (it got left at a friend's over the weekend) and so I make it home, wait for him, then go get Joy. I waited until 4:15PM. Josh is usually home by 3:45/3:50. 4:15 has been the latest when he takes the bus. I left a way for him to get in the house, went to pick up Joy and kept calling home every few minutes to see if he was there. Panic begins to set in after I get Joy and call Tim to let him know that Josh isn't home and did he happen to mention if he was going somewhere after school? Tim confirms that my firstborn did NOT say anything about going to a friend's, or a
game, nor has he received a call about any afterschool activities.

Josh didn't mention anything to anyone, and it's the middle of the week; so I was starting to really really worried. He ALWAYS calls. So much so that sometimes it's annoying, but after yesterday, I'll take the annoyance over the worry and dread and fear.

I called Tim again. He suggested that I check the HS campus and see if he had stayed after for a game or something. I take the long way from Shute Park Library to Faith's HS campus, looking at every single bus stop on TV Highway to see if he was waiting, or walking or something. The only thing I didn't check was the Hillsboro Transit Center. And I was still calling home every few minutes. So I get to the campus and go in. There's a basketball practice going on and I see a few of Josh's friends who are on the team, but not my boy. I call Tim again and he says he'll be home soon and suggests a few people to call. I negate him on a few people thinking that they live too far away, still under the impression that he would have either taken the bus from school and then the MAX, or else taken the school bus to the HS campus and then the bus and MAX home or gotten a ride. As soon as I got home I called the family that usually brings him home. They hadn't. The mom asked her son and he said he thought he heard something about him going home with another family. I called that family (actually one that Tim had mentioned) and got the answering machine. By the time I finished leaving a message I was in tears. It was about 5:00. I didn't know where Josh was for 1.5 hours. Not long, but a lifetime as I tried not to think about what could have happened to him in that hour and a half.

Next call was to the police. I was starting to really cry by thenand had Tim call. The number is programmed into our phone from when I ran the daycare, no hunting required. He called and started the process for a missing person's report. The police said they would send someone out soon...

Josh walked in the door 15 minutes later to see me sitting on the couch crying. It was 5:15, I was an emotional wreck. First thing out of Josh's mouth was "I'm sorry I didn't call. I remembered as soon as we got in the car to come home." At that moment the mom of the family who had them called to let me know that her DH and kids were on their way to my house and that she thought Josh had called. I let her know that he had just walked in the door. I couldn't stop crying. The dad poked his head in and said it was his fault that he didn't remind Josh and apologized for the worry and Josh was still trying explain the chain of events.

The relief I felt, along with the "Do I ream him up one side and down the other?" feeling conflicted and I just sent him to his room for an indefinite period while I got sorted out. Tim and I talked about really getting him a cell phone so that we could call him when something like this happens. Hasn't been an issue because he ALWAYS calls, if just to check on when I am getting home. He's called late, but never NOT called.

Resolution: A little while later I went upstairs and heard Josh in a nearly tearful voice talking to Tim. Later Tim said he had never seen Josh so contrite or remorseful. He seemed to really understand the worry he had put me through. A little while later Josh came in asking for his punishment. I told him I hadn't decided but a gf who called wanted me to smack him upside his head for forgetting. When I told him this he asked if I would. It would make him feel better he said. So I did. And then sent him on his way.

Josh the jokester
He came in and asked -- all smiles and charm -- "Mom, since I had you worried, can we go to the T-Mobile store after school tomorrow and get a cell phone?" I so wanted to throw something at him!

The thought of something happening to him scared me so much. I kept cool, calm, and collected until that second phone call and not getting any immediate reassurance that he was OK. I NEVER want to go through that again.