A Phone Call No One Wants

Guest post by Tabitha, Life Unadulterated

“Hello, Mrs. Merry, I’m Mrs. Nurse calling from the elementary school. I just wanted to let you know that SchoolGirl was absent today and you didn’t call in her absence, just wanted to make sure she’s alright.”

It’s a seemingly innocent message, meant to ensure that the attendance is accurate. A message I got a couple of times during kindergarten year. So why was I suddenly feeling like my world had been ripped apart?

“Um, Mrs. Nurse…she was fine when I put her on the bus this morning.”

^That’s why. I placed SG on the bus this morning, not knowing that a few short hours later, for ten whole minutes, I would be wondering if that hug and kiss I had given her was the last one I’d be able to give her.

Ten minutes in which the school tried to keep me from collapsing, ten minutes that would tick by with 600 of the slowest seconds of my life. My precious girl was “lost”. My oldest, my daughter. I managed to keep a calm façade, but inside I was screaming, begging, pleading.

God, I know you and I rarely talk, but you know when we do it’s important, to either me or You…please let this be a mistake. Please let her be okay. I can deal with almost everything you throw at me, but I promise you I will not be able to deal with this. You will destroy me. Please please please let them have made a mistake.

The school made a mistake. SG had asked an adult to go to the bathroom during morning lineup and the teacher never got the message and marked her absent. Of course, it never occurred to anyone once my daughter got to the classroom, to tell the office that a mistake had been made, that SG was indeed present.

To someone without children, it may appear I overreacted. But when you’re a parent, sometimes you’re allowed to “overreact”. And this is a situation in which no degree of reaction or overreaction is wrong. When I gave birth to each of my children, I gave away pieces of my soul to them. They are my heart, and they walk around outside my body. They can feel pain, they can get hurt, and there are bad things in this world that hopefully will never touch them. But the possibility is there and when you get a reminder that those possibilities exist, a whole new kind of terror comes to town.

When I decide to let BabyBoy walk around in a store, I will have a backpack leash for him. Some people think it’s barbaric. I know it’s a measure that will keep my energetic son close to me. Children aren’t always taken from lazy, negligent parents. Sometimes even the most vigilant parent looks away. All it takes is one second. I tried to figure out in my brain how my daughter could have been lost between the bus and school, but I couldn’t think. I couldn’t breathe. And when the lady got back on the phone, I must have asked her a million times if my daughter truly was there. I needed enormous amounts of reassurance, and it was all I could do to not drive up to the school and demand to see her myself.

I was horribly shaken for about an hour after the incident. And now I am grateful. Not every parent gets lucky enough to have that mistake made. Some parents get that call, and it is very real that their child is gone, that no one knows what happened or where the child is. I had that fear and terror for only ten minutes. I cannot imagine living with that on a daily basis.

I am so relieved that SG is safe. And when she gets home tonight, I know my hug will be a little tighter, a little longer.


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