I have a new Worst Day of My Life, I'm sorry to say. It was my birthday weekend. Hubby and I were gone all day Saturday since my mom offered to watch the kids. We hoped to bike but there were threats of strong storms all day. We started off touring some nearby model homes. Of course, that sent me into a low grade depression in which I broke the Thou Shalt Not Covet commandment. Man, if I could just duplicate that New Home Smell in my house....it's way more appealing than New Car Smell!
Anyway, we don't have any fantastic shopping locally so we drove an hour away. We even visited the discount paper store, where I loaded up on a bag full of envelopes for six bucks.
When we got home (it never did rain, by the way), there was a visitor at my mom's. It was a high school senior that my mom and I have kind of mentored through the years. Her mom passed away suddenly when she was a young girl and her dad has two girls alone. She stopped by to give my mom a ticket for her graduation. She's a little on the slow side and didn't realize that she had overstayed her welcome.
In the midst of the visiting girl, our return from The Day, and my brother's family stopping by, it got a little hectic. I overheard a bit of a conversation between my mom and Son #1. I heard her reply to his question, "That's something you'd have to ask your mother." I didn't know what he had asked.
My mom said he mentioned something about going to a friend's bonfire, but she told him he'd have to ask me. He never did.
We called his phone dozens of times. It was off. His phone is never off. He is better about answering his phone than anyone else in the entire family. My mom started to panic, but I was still calm. "I'll go look for him," I said. I changed out of my pajamas and set off in the car, ready to tan his hide for causing this chaos.
I drove by Jeremy's, Jake's, and Evan's. It was dark out and I couldn't remember exactly where Tyler lived. Those are the only friends he visits at home. I was fairly certain it wasn't a church friend, because #1 would have told my mom the name of the friend who was having the bonfire.
I started calling friends and family. No one knew of his whereabouts. By this time, it was after 10:00. It just wasn't like him. He wasn't angry and didn't run away. He didn't actually ask for permission to go somewhere and didn't tell me he was leaving. He wasn't answering his phone. I was getting quite nervous at this point. Various family members had arrived at our house to offer help and support. My uncle was driving the streets of our town looking for and smelling for a bonfire.
We tried to send out a Find My iPod signal, but he didn't have it with him. He also left his iPad mini at home. I couldn't think of another thing to do.
Hubby paced and continued to call his phone. My mom went in and out of panic mode. My cousin asked various questions. Son #2 and my dad were both very quiet. I was surprisingly calm. Then, that story of the girls kidnapped for over 10 years in Cleveland kept playing though my mind. They were about his age. I imagined every possible scenario...
Finally, after an eternity, the police arrived. My old high school buddy stepped out of the car and I started explaining the situation. Suddenly, I heard Hubby's very loud voice saying, "WHERE ARE YOU?!?!" I ran to where he was. He was on the phone, fuming. There was almost steam coming out of his ears. Again, he said, "WHERE ARE YOU?!?!?" My mom busted into tears, I didn't know if I should be angry or relieved. Then Hubby got the answer he was looking for. Son #1 was in a town 15 minutes away, at someone's house we had never met.
Oh dear...the rage.
I'll try to wrap up quickly now because this story is getting quite long. In the confusion of the evening, #1 thought he made it clear to my mom that he was going to a friend's. He never asked me. This friend called and said he was a block away and would pick up my son and take him there. He quickly grabbed his sweatshirt and hat and headed out the door to catch them. This person attends his school but lives a couple towns away. I do not know why. They have a good 20 minute drive to school every day.
When he arrived at the house, he realized his phone was almost dead. He turned it off and put it in the house. They had been playing games outside and he said he lost track of time. By the time we arrived at the house to pick him up, it was just before 11:00. I realize you don't know us personally, but that's not OK. Our kids are NOT allowed to stay out until 11, especially with people we've never met! I was fired up the entire drive there.
#1 was standing by the road when we got there, as was the father of the friend. #1 was sobbing and the dad looked like he was close to tears. He apologized profusely, saying he had no clue our son hadn't received permission to come. He assured my he was a good person. He actually went to school a few years ahead of us and he lived in a very beautiful neighborhood. I was still irate but did my best to assure the man that the fault was not his.
I decided not to kill my son because sobbing in front of all your teenage friends is punishment enough. We did, however, lecture him the entire way home. I explained to him why I ask him to text or call me sporadically when he's not at home. It's not to interrupt his fun. It's not so that I can check up on him or that I don't trust him. It's for my peace of mind. He said he understood that now. I told him the many thoughts and emotions that went through my mind that evening. We made him feel pretty bad.
Fortunately, we got a happy ending. But can you imagine all the parents who went through something like this, only to never see their child again? The thought of it makes me literally sick to my stomach.