I threw my foot in my mouth AGAIN today when I asked some moms "Is that kid just extra nutty?" thinking I was being funny and adorable, and then they told me the kid has autism. Wow. I'm such a D. bag.
But here's what happened on Friday, the day that the world stood absolutely still for forty minutes. I am going to try to avoid any identifying characteristics, so don't think I have issues if I refer to a child as "it." I was picking up L and a friend of hers at her classroom for a play date, but her friend, being a kid, and having a brain fart that kids sometimes have, took off for the kindergarten play area. While we were looking in bathrooms and on the big kid playground, and calling the mom, the kid was probably noticing that the kindergarten play area was emptying out, and that Leila and I were nowhere in sight, and decided the best thing to do was walk home.
Now, I used to walk home all the time, and it doesn't seem like it should be a big deal, but, believe me: IT IS. Kids just don't walk home around here. What would the blonde skinny moms do with their enormous cars if they didn't pick up their kids, right? So, anyway, we are frantically looking for this kid, his mom is on the phone completely and rightfully panicked, the police are called in, and they're on their walkee-talkees saying, "was last seen wearing..." and the office is printing out the kid's picture, and I'm like, "Holy effing shitballs."
On top of the panic and craziness, I was wearing high-heeled boots. If you know me at all, readers, you know my trouble with shoes, and that high-heeled boots only come out for special occasions when I know I wont be doing much standing or walking. They're like what Oprah calls her 15-minute shoes. So, I was running the perimeter of the school, ducking into bathrooms, stomping around woodchips on the playground, all in my high-heeled boots, and when I wasn't thinking Holy effing shitballs, I was thinking, Oh, God, my feet hurt!
Here's the other thing I was thinking, that makes me fell kinda bad, but its the truth: I was thinking, I didn't do anything wrong. I was at the door at the end of class, I didn't leave him in a mall parking lot after too many mai tais or something, so if something happened, its not my fault. Isn't that a little douchey? That's what I was thinking when I wasn't using my x-ray scanner kid radar looking for my charge. In my bones, I knew that nothing bad had happened and I knew that there would be a logical explanation for this disappearance, which there was.
The child walked home, probably thinking that was the right thing to do, and for forty minutes, the longest forty minutes of my life, we all went completely apeshit. We were right to go apeshit, though. If you can't see your kid, or the kid you're in charge of, for, like, more than 45 seconds, your heart leaps into your throat and things start happening in slow motion, until you find them in the cereal aisle of the grocery store, or where ever. Poor kid. I felt so bad for the kid when his mom brought it into the office. It looked stricken, scared, pale. I hugged that little blonde head to my bosom and tried to be smiley and happy. I was, too. It was a sight for sore eyes. Such a good kid, too, and I wont stop thinking that just because it took years off my life
I had an epic bucket of wine when I got home, right after Leila pulled off my boots for me. I want to thank the elementary school and the local police for being so on the ball and acting so quickly, I want to thank my town for having bike paths so that at least this child could walk home without the fear of heavy traffic, and I want to thank Clos du Bois for making a fine chardonnay and keeping it moderately priced so I can drink as much of it as I need to in times like these.
If you have a kid and want a great way to talk to them about stranger danger, check out this DVD. Its a good one. They also make one about internet safety, which I don't even want to think about right now...