This afternoon I went through about 40 minutes of pure terror. I now have a brief glimpse into what mothers of missing children endure every day. I couldn't imagine having that kind of grief and horror in my world for days, weeks, months or even years. God help me, but I could barely think of the two kids who were at my side. I knew MJ needed to eat and M needed to help me babysit so I could focus my attention where it needed to be, but I couldn't make myself accomplish any of that. All I could do was watch out the window for my daughter as I waited for the police to arrive.
Okay, that all sounds a bit melodramtic, so I had best explain...
C went on a field trip today to the state School For The Deaf. It is nearly 2 hours away. Yesterday morning C's busdriver asked if C would need transportation today or if I would provide transportation. I explained that Matt was out of the area because he was attending his mother's funeral (sending much love and many prayers with her soul) so I was not in a position to provide transportation. She said that it would be no problem, but that C would be picked up about an hour earlier.
So, 7:00am comes rolling around and here comes the bus. C gets on and I followed to buckle her up (as I do every other time I put her on the bus). As I was departing, I asked her driver when I could expext C to be dropped off. She said, "I don't know, but I'll just honk as I drive by." Every day, the bus passes our house in order to make a u-turn at the end of the block and drops C off on the return route (a 2 minute trip during which time I can see the bus).
4:10pm comes and goes... Okay, so she'll be a bit later than usual. 4:30pm... Hmmmm, they're going to be really late. 5:00 hits and my heart stars beating... I had better call Transportation. I took my time, thinking that nothing could be wrong. By the time I got around to phoning it was 5:11pm.
As soon as the operator answered the phone I explained that I was just checking on my daughter's status. I just wanted to know when I could expect the bus and if they were still on their way back from the southern school. "What do you mean? All our busses are back." This, of course, made me panic instantly (as I don't do well with someone misplacing my kids). She said, "Let me check with a few people and I'll call you back."
Nearly 10 minutes later she finally calls me back and says, "C never got on the bus so we don't know where she is."
WHAT THE F*^@?!?! And yes, that did come out of my mouth! At this point I began screaming and demanded that they find my child. The lady kept telling me, "Calm down ma'am or I can't help you." Calm down my rear! This is my child we are talking about and she's missing! I explained that they needed to find my daughter or I would need to call 911!!! What else was I going to do? She then suggested I call her school and find out if they knew where my daughter was. The lady asked if I wanted the phone number. Since that was FAR more expedient than looking it up myself I said, "Yes.... And don't you leave that office until I call you back!" So, did she give me the number? Nope.... The B*#&% hung up on me!!! SERIOUSLY?!?
I, of course called back and demanded to speak to her supervisor (who then repeated teh "Calm down or I won't help you" phrase). I got the phone number, repeated my "Don't you dare leave" demand and called the school... Was there an answer? Nope. Just the recording that tells the school hours of opperation. So, I called Transportation back again. And do you want to know what that woman said?
"I think you should call 911!"
OH CRAP!!! Needless to say, I totally lost it. I, yet again, told them not to leave until my daughter was found as I was hanging up the phone.
In the next instant I'm screaming on the phone to the post dispatcher. She was telling me to calm down and all I wanted to do was scream that she had to be joking... My daughter is missing and she wants me to calm down? How insane is that?
Suffice it to say, I'm suprised I didn't have the entire block outside looking at me or seeing what was going on because I was screaming so loudly that my throat is still aching (and it's been nearly 4 hours).
I paced to different windows wondering if C would be able to find her way home on the off chance that she did get on a bus and got dropped off somewhere. As I stood outside waiting for the patrol car to pull up I was praying for C's safety and hoping against all hope that someone didn't kidnap her and yet hoping against hope that someone find her and would be able to understand her signing.
The feelings of pure helplessness that I endured for those short but long lasting moments of my day were so overwhelming that even now I can't seem to shake this overwhelming feeling of nausea and sadness.
Thankfully, at nearly the same instant (around 5:45pm) the school Transportation officed and 911 called back to tell me that C was still on her way home from the school for the deaf and would be arriving at her school around 6:00pm where I needed to pick her up.
WHAT?!? Seriously? I don't recall reading that on the permission slip. And I still had every right to be upset and angry because I was asked if I needed transportation provided ("Yes, please"), I asked what time she would be dropped off ("I'll honk as I drive by"), which indicated that they would bring her home, if they weren't then they should have called since the bus driver verified that she would bring her home, and the Transportation office should always know which students they are picking up/dropping off and which of their regular students they are not picking up/dropping off and why. Had Transportation had this information available and told me that I was supposed to pick her up at the school then that would have solved half of the problem.
Dare I say that when Transportation called me back for the final time and told me that they had found my daughter (which they should have done in the first place instead of telling me to call 911 because they didn't know where my kid was) then there would have been no problem... Because this whole thing started because I was calling to verify where C was at and what time I could expect her back... And guess what? That's the information that they gave me on that final call... My reply? "I F'ing HATE YOU PEOPLE!" with a swift hang-up!
The 911 operator? "Thank you sooooo much and I am soooo sorry for all of this." She gave a swift laugh of relief and, with a smile in her tone, said, "No problem. It's my job." She then worried about whether or not I would be mentally stable to drive. What else could I do? I had to pick up my daughter and I had to drive, so I called my parents to vent, pulled it together and drove my scared rear into town!
C is home, safe and sound... And I'm so relieved (though Matt laughed at me like I was an idot, but hey... what can I say?). Sigh........
We're Back!!! :)
7 years ago