Saturday, January 7, 2012

Holy Crap ...

First, let me say HOLY CRAP,  I can't believe it's been six months since I last posted!  Don't know how that has happened, but let me assure you that I have continued to read everyone on my blog list.  I'm still having some problems commenting, even if I use the anonymous option, but I do read you all.
The next HOLY CRAP is that I didn't wish everyone happy holidays and happy new year.  So to one and all, a belated Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!  I hope 2012 brings many good things to all of us (especially good health and money)!

The main reason for this HOLY CRAP post is something that happened yesterday with my two grandsons, ages 6 and 8, and the phrase holy crap was repeated many times by me.  It was about 5pm and they had been out in front of the house, going up and down the street on bikes, skateboards, and pogo sticks with some other kids, and I checked on them every 15 minutes or so.  What usually happens is that I either make a visual check thru the window, or if I can't see them I step outside and listen for their voices, which are usually coming from either the house next door or two across the street where they have friends.  I know the kids and the families, so I don't generally worry.  There's a little concern that Conner is only 6 and the boys that he and Garrett play with are 10, but we've lived here for six years and they've known him since he was a baby and generally watch out for him, so the main problem is that he thinks he can do anything that they do!

Anyway, yesterday when I realized that they were no longer going up and down the street, I went out into the yard to see where they had disappeared to.  I began hollering their names, and eventually they popped up at a yard at the end of the street and waved at me.  I thought they were at a house at the 'dirt road' on the end of the street where I'm a passing acquaintance with a lady from the school, where our street turns to the right toward the cul-de-sac.  I hollered at them that they should have told  me where they were going, and then let it go.  My daughter called a few minutes later to say she was on the way, so I decided to go ahead and call them home...

and they were nowhere to be seen or heard.  Nothing.  I yelled until I was hoarse, but nothing.  I had been sick for several days and was weak as a kitten (I think it's my thyroiditis flaring up), so I was in my pajamas with  no make up on and my hair pinned up and all over the place.  After yelling for what seemed forever, I ran in the house and put my jeans and shoes on and headed down the street to the dirt road area, which is four houses away (that seemed like a dozen).

If you have read me for any time at all, you know that we have an area behind our subdivision that is wooded, and where we have taken the boys for hiking and exploring.  There's a trickle of a stream that floods when it rains, and though it's not a huge spookey area, it is a good distance from the house and wooded and, oh, did I mention that THEY ARE NEVER SUPPOSED TO GO THERE WITHOUT AN ADULT???

So I went to the dirt road at the house where I thought they were, and two men in the driveway said they hadn't noticed which way they'd gone, and their kids were in the house.  I stood there at the dirt road that leads to the woods and began a frantic screaming for the boys.  Nothing.  More frantic screaming, turning round and round so that my voice would carry in all directions.  Garrett, Conner!  Where the hell are you?  Where did you go?  Why can't you hear me?  Pa-leeeeze, where are you????

Finally, off in the distance in the direction of the woods, I saw a flash of white shirt and heard a far, far away voice.  Filled with both relief and anger, my screaming became Are you kidding me? What the hell are you doing over there?  Get your butts over here immediately!  Run as fast as your feet can carry you!  What the hell were you thinking?  When they finally got near enough for me to actually hear them and they me, my anger was just overwhelming.  My heart was beating so fast I thought I'd drop dead right there, and blood roared in my ears so loud I was almost deaf except for the screaming of my own voice.  What the hell were you thinking?  You know you're never supposed to go in there by yourselves!  On what planet do you take a six year old boy into the woods without an adult?  Bla bla bla ...

By now both boys are crying hysterically and Garrett's saying I'm sorry! and asking me why am I screaming, and telling me that he thought I knew where they were.  What?  Knew where they were?  Was I unconscious when he came home and said Mawmaw, Conner and I are going to go by ourselves down the dirt road and into the woods and down to the creek?  Of course he knew that that made no sense, but by that point I think we were all three in a state of hysteria, them at being in trouble and listening to me scream at them as we walked/ran home, and me at the idea of how easily this could have had a bad ending.  (And let me say here that the lapse of time from when I first called them home until the time they came out of the woods was the longest 15-20 minutes of my life.)

As I neared the house, an  older girl, maybe 10 or 11,  came up from behind me saying m'am, m'am! She's new to the neighborhood, and though I had seen her walking home from school I really had no idea who she was. She ran up to me as we got to the house and apologized, saying it was her fault. (Apparently she had walked out of the woods more slowly and had waited until my rant subsided before she showed herself!)  Said that she's new in the neighborhood and that Garrett had mentioned the creek and she asked if he could show her. Didn't know that they didn't have permission. I thanked her for her apology, said that she had no way of knowing he didn't have permission, that Garrett knew better, and that she should never go there by herself and especially without telling anyone where she was going!

When we finally got into the house, these two little boys still crying and me shaking like a leaf, I said horrid things like Do you realize that every week there's a story on the news about a child being kidnapped and either hurt or murdered?  About little kids that ride off on their bikes without saying where they're going and never coming back?  About parents who turn their backs for ten seconds and never see their kid again?  Do you have any idea how badly you scared me?

Well, by the time Melody got here a few minutes later, Garrett was sitting at the computer and Conner was totally wrapped in a blanket and laying on the couch crying, and  I was sitting at the kitchen table trying to slow my heart beat down.  Melody was on her phone and didn't realize for a few minutes that something was going on, so when I finally was able to tell her the story she was very disappointed in her boys!  She handled it better than me, scolded them calmly but sternly, telling Garrett that she was disappointed that he had made such a bad decision, making her realize that he needed to be better supervised until he could make better ones.  That they were both grounded to their yard or mine and could not leave them until further notice.

And I had to apologize to her for letting it happen, for being an unreliable caregiver, both of us knowing, of course, that these things happen under the best of circumstances, that we lucked out this time. And I'm thinking back to when she was a girl, about four or five years old, and disappeared on our street while playing with neighborhood kids, and they had gone to a field at the end of the street - where she was never supposed to go!  At that time there seemed to have been a rash of kidnappings and deaths across the country, and particularly one where the child had been dumped in one of those roadside porta potties on a mountain road in Colorado.  So I recognized this fear as the same I had felt at that time!  And, of course,  last night I had the same kind of dreams that I had had then.

One thing that I keep thinking about is - I do not know my neighbors.  I know the ones on either side of me and across the street, but all the others are phantom neighbors who pull into their garages when they get home from work and just as silently leave the next day.  Who are they and why are they so anonymous?  Do they have kids, how many, how old?  Are any of them unbalanced?  Do they watch any kids that are in their visual range for safety sake, like I do?  I feel like I need to go door to door to check everybody out, to know who is interacting with my grandsons, and who I can go to if one of the boys seems to have disappeared!

Well, there's not a parent alive who hasn't gone thru some version of a child disappearing, if even for just a few minutes, and experienced that cold fear that grips you so quickly, so primitively and to the gut.  I know I won't soon forget those long fifteen minutes and the fear that gripped me. 

And I don't think the boys will soon forget the vision of their Mawmaw looking like a wild woman going down the street, screaching at the top of her lungs, and probably were a bit shocked at all the cuss words she forgot she wasn't supposed to use in front of them!

Of course, it doesn't stop at childhood, does it?  They're on a date and 30 minutes late getting home and forget to call.  Or off riding around with friends.  Oh gosh, the first time they take the car for a drive by themselves!  I'll never forget the first time Melody drove all the way to Colorado from Georgia by herself! What about you?  Do you have one of these lost or late kid stories?