As I get older, I am losing things more often. Usually it is just a matter of misplacing things. It is very frustrating to go look for something in the spot I normally leave it to find it is not there. Sometimes I can blame others for having moved it, but I admit that I am guilty of setting something down with the intention of putting it in its proper place in just a moment and then getting distracted. I have come to rely on order in my life. Things need to be where they belong and people should be where they say they are going to be. I have too much going on in my life to keep track of all the little details.
My daily life is pretty routine. 5:30 am - wake up and get ready to take Aaron to seminary. 6:00 - leave the house. 7:00 - go pick him up and take him to school. 8:00 Take the other kids to school. 2:00 pm - pick Aaron up from school unless other arrangements have been made. 3:30 pick up the other kids, except on Fridays which is half day and I get them at 11:30. The time in between the drop off and pick runs is spent in a myriad of ways depending on what is going on that week. Once the kids are home, we get homework done and then they are on their own to entertain themselves as I strive to finish up work or make dinner or whatever else is using my energy.
Daniel is fairly quiet. He is the true middle child of the family and tends to get along with people of all ages. His classroom at school is a mixed grade of 4th - 7th grade students. He likes both boys and girls as friends and has not yet hit the years where girls are anything more than recess playmates. Because he did attend the public school in our neighborhood for a couple of years before we moved him to the charter school, he has friends in the area. They range in age from 7 - 14. Many afternoons he will ask to go out into the neighborhood and look for someone to play with. I know most of the culprits and where they live. I have phone numbers for those he associates with most often. I give him a fair amount of leeway and do not require a typed itinerary each time he leaves the house. He is required to be home before it gets dark.
Friday afternoon he took off to look for friends. Neil got home about 5:00, changed, finished packing the truck and left soon after for the scout trip with the older boys. I was at the computer dealing with popcorn orders for the district. I tend to use only natural light coming through the windows behind me until it gets dark enough to require I shut the blinds and turn on lightbulbs. As I began this ritual, I realized that Daniel was not yet home. I began making the phone calls. First house, no answer so I left a message. Second house, no answer and no machine. I decided to go drive through the neighborhood hoping that I would spot him on his way home, a young boy knowing he's in trouble and hastening his steps. I drove by the homes of his friends. I tried a third number but it kept going straight to voicemail. I left a message.
Returning home with no idea where Daniel was, I began to pray. Pleading for his safety and hoping that it was simply a case of getting too involved and not realizing it was dark outside. I called Neil to see if Aaron could tell me what Daniel had been wearing when he left and if he could tell me the exact location of another friend's house. Neil offered to come home but I told him it wasn't necessary yet. He assured me that he would be praying as well. He then made the fatal mistake of telling me how to discipline Daniel when he did show up. I guess from a guy's point of view, this is his way of saying he is confident that Daniel will be home soon and will need to be punished for making me worry. What I heard was that he was more concerned with the punishing of a child and addressing the "next time" when I wasn't even confident there would be a next time to address.
Just before I hung up the phone and prepared to go to the house of this third friend, I opened the front door and there was Daniel poised to ring the doorbell. Yes, there should be lectures and maybe a grounding for not being home before dark or calling. But I couldn't. I was just too relieved that he was safe. We did talk about communicating better in the future. If I wasn't afraid I'd lose it, I might consider the typed itinerary.