Friday, January 11, 2008

My Worst Nightmare

C. Peevie got inadvertently abandoned yesterday. A friend who was supposed to pick him up forgot to do so. I expected him home by 4:30, but by 4:45 I started to wonder where he was. I figured my friend was running late or had stopped off with the boys to get a snack. Finally, I called her at 5. She picked up the phone, and as soon as she heard my voice, she realized what had happened.

"Oh, my God," she said. "I completely forgot I was supposed to pick him up!"

She started to tell me how she had gotten distracted, but I begged off in order to call the school. When no one answered--of course not! It was after 5 p.m.!--I herded the other kids in the car, and went searching for him. Maybe he was still sitting in the trees outside of the school, where he usually waits for me.

Meanwhile, I called a friend who lives near the school: no answer on either the home phone or the cell phone. There was no soggy boy waiting in the trees, and I banged desperately on the door of the school until the maintenance person let me in. Of course he wasn't there, either.

Back in the car, A. Peevie and M. Peevie were starting to worry about their big brother, and we all said a short prayer for C. Peevie. The phone rang; it was the nearby friend. "Is C. Peevie with you?" I asked, knowing the answer. He wasn't.

"OK, kids, he probably walked home," I told them. "We're going to drive home slowly, and I want you guys to look out the window. Holler if you see somebody that might be your brother."

We started driving home, but of course, there was more than one route he could have taken. I turned down Avondale, windshield wipers scraping obnoxiously. We passed the firehouse, and headed toward the park along a really dark and lonely stretch of road. I felt fear rising in my throat, but I swallowed it back down.

My cell phone rang, displaying an unfamiliar number. "Hi, Mom. It's C. Peevie." He was calling from another friend's house--one hour after he should have been home. He had waited outside in the dark and rain for half an hour. Then he walked with his trumpet and backpack to his friend's house a few blocks away--but no one was home.

He waited there another 10 minutes or so, and then decided to head home, more than 1 1/2 miles away. He's only 12 years old! It was dark and raining, but he was calm, smart, and resourceful.

I was so proud of my C. Peevie. He knew his way home, and he called me as soon as he got to a phone. "Were you scared?" I asked him, once I knew he was OK. "No, not really," he said. "Just wet."

"I would not have been able to do that when I was 12," I told him later. "Oh, mom, yes you would," he said modestly. I asked him again if he had been scared, and he admitted, "Maybe just a little." But he was utterly forgiving and, I could tell, a tiny bit proud of himself. It was an urban adventure.

Poor, damp, tired, hungry boy. I couldn't stop hugging him.

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