Almost lost my kid today.
Why is it that when you're late to pick up your perpetually late child, that this is the one time she gets out of the building on time? Then, when she doesn't see you anywhere nearby, starts wandering off.
Where exactly was she going? No one knows.
Wait. Let me back up.
So today was Parent Teacher Conference* day and I was running late. Originally we were going to take the twins, but they decided they had an urgent date with their blankies and cribs, so I left them in Eric's care. However, the leaving process took a little longer than intended and I was late to pick Caitlin up.
I looked for her outside, but saw neither hide nor hair of her.
I looked for her inside, but was assured by her teacher that she had already pulled an Elvis (The Caitlin has left the building!).
I went around to the playground, expecting to see her playing with a friend. No luck.
I went to the office, hoping to see her there all upset at my tardiness. Nope.
Then I started asking the other moms and received word that she'd headed off that-a-way. That-a-way, of course, is not even vaguely in the direction of our house. That's when the worry started creeping in.
Several moms thought it odd that they had seen her heading in that direction, but didn't stop her. Now, clearly, they were all wondering why they didn't check in with their gut instinct as they watched me crank up the Freaked Out Mom expression.
A cop pulled up in a cruiser and I was desperate enough to begin describing her to him when it struck me that I didn't even know what she was wearing that morning. I could describe her and her coat, but was she wearing blue jeans or some other color pants? She didn't wander off with someone, but could she be walking towards someone's house? Why not ours? (If you're going to pick a direction to go wandering, why wouldn't you pick the direction you know your house is in?!)
Just as I was regretting not having my cellphone on me, one of the dads drove up and announced that Caitlin had been spotted and was reeled in by one of the other moms. She was waiting for me in the office.
After thanking everyone profusely, I set off for the office. I could feel my heart hammering in my chest as the adrenaline, which had been set for Flight, was now resetting into Fight. I now understand why my mother would be so upset when she "lost" me that she'd take it out on me by yelling at me angrily once I was found. Wait, I thought you were scared. Why are you yelling?
I get it now.
I decided not to yell at Caitlin. I did have a hard time not crying though. However, Caitlin started crying in reaction, so I let her cry for both of us.
In case you're wondering, yes we've had this conversation before but she apparently "forgot". She was walking towards her friend's house to have his mom call us, completely forgetting that they have telephones in the school office.
I'm now thinking about putting a low-jack on that child.
Or maybe The Clapper.
I suppose I could go "old school" and just get a ball and chain, but that might put a cramp in her style at school.
What would you do?
* She's doing great! Thanks for asking.