Saturday, October 22, 2016

Being Thankful # 9...

Every now and then, something will happen that makes you think about what is most important in life, and to make sure to appreciate it that much more.

Such an occurrence happened recently to me, and it involved my son.

You see, I have him over the weekends usually, but I also go up north, where he lives, to spend the afternoon and evening with him at least a couple of times each week, unless my work week has been unusually loaded and/or if other circumstances, such as weather, do not allow it. On such weekdays, I will meet him at the apartment where he lives. Up until this year, I would go to his bus stop, right at the entrance of the apartment complex. But upon seeing that I was the only parent there, as my son just graduated from pure elementary school to technically, a middle school (even though he is only a fifth grader, that is when the kids in this particular town go over to the middle school and, it should be noted, lose their recess in the process - something which seems both unfair and absurd, as they are too young not to need that time to release their energy and stir their creative juices). 

In any case, indeed, when I noticed that he was the only kid on the bus with a parent waiting for him, I asked if maybe he wanted me to wait for him down by the apartment itself, so that he could walk the length of the parking lot on his own. Perhaps he would be able to be seen as cooler or more independent that way. Just seemed like a good idea. He seemed almost indifferent to the idea, simply shrugging and kind of saying, "Okay, whatever." He also said that he was not embarrassed by me walking him when I asked him. Still, it seemed like something to try.

So, we tried it. And it seemed to work without incident.

At least until mid to late October.

It was a normal day, for the most part. It was a warmer day than usual for the season, although it was not absurdly warm, like it had been for several days prior, when it outright felt like summer again, with temperatures in the high 80's - highly unusual for this time of the year. We might get some Indian Summer days, but usually, it is not quite that hot.

I was coming up from my own town further south, and decided to go for a hike, as there are a lot of woods, and some decent trails, along the way. It was a nice day for it, and the cooler weather made hiking circumstances almost ideal.

Afterwards, I cleaned up the car a little, and then it was time for me to go, to meet him again at the apartment complex after school, because we had to meet my mom and take her to the garage, where her car had been worked on and fixed. We had to be there by 5pm, because that was when they closed. My son usually comes home by around 3:40 to 3:45, and my parents live perhaps ten to fifteen minutes away, with the garage being an additional ten to fifteen minutes after that. We could and should easily be able to get it done, in other words.

So, I got to the apartment right around the time that his bus usually gets there. Pulled it and went inside to go to the bathroom, as I needed to go. He was not there, but that was not really a bit surprise. I went outside and waited.

And waited. 

And waited.

I had called up my mom not long before to tell her I was there, and that we would indeed go up to the garage once my son was here. But now, I had to call her again, and explained what was happening, and that it seemed we were going to be a bit later than usual.

He was nowhere to be found. I went back and forth between the apartment and the bus stop. At some point, I even searched the apartment, calling out his name, just in case he was playing some kind of a joke. Started driving around the parking lot, asking people if they had seen him. Nobody had. Then I tried to call the school, and then his mother. Nobody answered in either case. I texted his mother, just in case she had, for some reason, picked him up without mentioning it to me. Since she normally works on those days (it was a Thursday), this seemed highly unlikely, although not impossible, either.

It was starting to get really worrisome, nerve-racking. What should I do now? I ventured to the edges of the woods surrounding the apartment complex, just in case he was there, for some reason, and the thought, more like a question, rose in my head: at what point should I maybe call the cops?

That seemed like a serious step, one that I should hold off on until it really started to reach the level of emergency, but the thought did occur to me.

So, I kept driving and walking around, kept going back in the apartment and searching, just in case, somehow, he had slipped by me and gone there. I walked around the parking lot, shouting out his name, but all for naught.

Finally, at around 4:27pm, I got a call from someone at the school. He said that he had tried to call his mom, but that she had not answered. Most likely, it was her old number, because she had recently switched phones and, with it, numbers. When he called me, I answered right away. He explained that my son was there, and had missed the bus.

Wow! What a relief!

It should go without saying that I went straight there to pick him up. He was sitting with a couple of girls, who were also there for some unknown reason. When I asked him what had happened, he said that his locker had gotten stuck, and that this had become an increasingly serious issue as the school year went on. Earlier in the year, it had opened without a problem. Now, however, it was giving him all sorts of problems.

Naturally, I told him what he should have done and, more importantly, what he needs to do should that happen to him next time. Go to the office and tell them right away, let them know that he was still there, in the school, and had missed his bus. Let one of us, the adults in the family, know as well. Always let us know where he is at all times.

He seemed fairly receptive to that, although he quickly agreed when I mentioned that it was time to perhaps give him a phone. He already had one picked out - the nice, new I-Phone. I told him that a small, prepaid phone would serve nicely, and suddenly, his enthusiasm dampened considerably. He urged me to get a more modern, touchscreen phone with internet access and, presumably, some games that could keep him entertained. I countered that if he had the money for that, then it would be fine, and he laughed.

In any case, we went straight to my mom's place and, indeed, were able to get her to the garage just before it closed, which was a good thing. The car had no problems as she pulled out and went back to the house.

This was an unusual event but, in the end, actually wound up being more of a scare than anything serious, for which I am very thankful!

And it seemed like a good idea to take a few moments to recognize and show appreciation for that, despite the bad scare that it gave me.

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