I lost my son. I don’t mean metaphorically. I mean I literally lost my son. He was in one place at one moment and was not there a few moments later. This was very upsetting in a multitude of ways.
On Friday afternoon, I went to my nearly 8 year old son’s school to pick him up. He sees this as a treat – apparently, he is not a big fan of the school bus. In fact when he gets off the bus, he typically runs to the house as if staying on the bus might mean more homework. Anyway, I figured since I had the day off, I would pick him up which would give us an opportunity to bond. At least, that is what I imagined. We would run errands and talk along the way. Efficient and useful bonding time.
When pick-up time rolled around, I was in a rush. Too much to do and too little time – the usual story. So, rather than casually going about the errands, we instead would be rushing. Still, I was optimistic for our chances to bond. The first two errands went well – we were in and out of the bank and dry cleaners quickly and painlessly. No lines – my version of heaven. We actually slapped hands after each errand – we were sharing the joy of efficiency. My son was truly getting something from our time together.
Our last errand entailed dropping movies off at the library. Now, the tricky part of this errand would be getting back home. You see there is a left hand turn you have to make to head back in the direction of our house which requires much patience and ultimately a daring do that would make James Bond hesitate. Much time would have been needed between parking the car and having to make the turn. So, I decided to send my son to drop the movies into the slot. Before sending him off to do the errand on his own, I asked him multiple times if he knew where the slot was. He kept saying yes in that way that children can which makes you feel like you are asking a ludicrous question. I then told him, “Meet me here. I’ll be here. I just have to turn the car around. Do you understand? Right here. Just come back here.” More bored shakes of the head. The whole errand should have taken less than a minute. When 3 minutes slowly ticked by … where is he, what the hell is up with him, oh come on, where did he go, he said he knew where to go … I parked the car while trying not to panic. I ran into the library and was told no one saw anyone fitting his description. I was in front of the library with nearly 10 minutes past since I dropped him off. I thought of that movie Ransom, I thought about going to the police station which was across the street, and I thought about calling my wife. I was freaking out and turning my head around furiously like a merry-go-round when a man poked his head out of a car and said, “Are you looking for a little boy? He’s up the block.” I ran while alternating my mutterings between: I am going to kill him, thank G-d, and what was I thinking? After finally catching up to my son (I ran up two other blocks before finding the one the man was referring to), I grabbed his hand and tried to remain patient. I wanted to give him a lecture, but settled for I was really nervous, why didn’t you come back to where we talked about, and you have to listen. Okay, so I gave a brief lecture. Who wouldn’t?
As we rode home together and my heart beat slowed to its regular pace, I peeked at my son in the rearview mirror. I came to two understandings. Firstly, I was not going to tell my wife about this. The second understanding was that though he is big brother it does not mean he is necessarily responsible. Rushing and bonding don’t go together.