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The Parental Nightmare I'll Never Forget

My husband Rob and I drove past a house the other day that brought back a memory of one the most terrifying experiences I have gone through as a parent.  Now, the ending is happy, and the intentions were fine and innocent, it's just that the series of events came from "The Parents Nightmare Handbook" (patent pending - although won't happen because who would want to read something like that?!?).

October, 2004.  The school day was almost over so I loaded my 4 year old Lily into her car seat so that we could pick-up her big sister Katie, who was in 2nd grade.   When I arrived at our usual spot on the sidewalk the bell rang and all the kids came out with variations of excitement that their school day was done.  I waited on the sidewalk for Katie, and waited... and waited.  After a couple of minutes I went inside her classroom to see what was keeping her.

When I looked in her classroom I saw her teacher but no students.  I asked her teacher if Katie could be in another classroom and he said no.  I told him that she didn't come out the door with the other kids so he went to the sidewalk, where I had been waiting, and I headed to the office.

While I was in the office I told other teachers that I was looking for our girl. Katie was born with enough energy and determination for two people and had already found a special place in the hearts of Astor Elementary Teachers.  Some went looking in the building, others headed out the doors, perhaps she was on the playground.  That could happen.

As each minute passed my panic grew.  This made no sense!  I was right there, on the sidewalk, waiting where I always am.  Where could she be?!?  I called my mom.  I called my husband.  I tried to remain calm, tried to stay clear headed, but it was beyond difficult.  Our wonderful principal came from walking around the building, up to me and asked "Does she talk of any friends?"  I remember Katie talking about one friend and that she wanted to go to her house.  Ah!  Mr. Walden went to the office, and came out with a piece of paper in his hand.  He told me to wait at the school.

5 minutes later - the longest 5 minutes - Mr. Walden pulled up to the curb with Katie in the back seat of his car.  Mr. Walden had looked up the address of the girl Katie had mentioned and arrived at her door to find Katie playing in the living room.  (This 2nd grader walks to and from school - alone!) When I saw Katie I can't explain the happiness, the frustration, the heart-pounding, stomach churning emotions I was feeling.  How did she get passed me after school?  When it comes to Katie, if she wants to do something, she's going to do it.

We had a long talk that afternoon.  That long talk hasn't ended.

When Rob and I got home from passing by that house he looked at Katie and said, "Oh boy.  Does mom ever want to talk to you!"  I hear her say "What did I do?!"  and I start with the 'Do you remember when you were in 2nd grade and you went to your friends house and...'  I get the eye roll and a "Yes.  Geez!!!"  It may have been 8 years ago, but I'll never forget.

What parental nightmare has your child put you through?  Do tell :->

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