That is one word to describe how I felt, yet it did not do the emotions rushing through my body justice.
I was wrought with outright fear and anxiety.
My child was not where he said he would be.
Or more succinctly, where I thought he would be.
When I last saw him, I asked him who was with him; he told me he was going one place, so I thought he was with his friends.
When I went to round him up, he was not there. I asked another parent – she had not seen him, but told me where her kids were.
Since my child is always in search of food, I thought it was quite possible he had been scrounging for a rogue granola bar or leftover Halloween candy.
I found his bookbag outside my office, so I took it to my car before going off to find him.
“I better go back through the building; he may be looking for me,” I thought.
I got to where I thought he would be and where he should be; only, he wasn’t there.
I took a deep breath.
Surely he was in the building somewhere, I just didn’t see him yet.
I walked around the top floor looking for him. Nowhere.
On the lower level, I found one of his friends and asked her if she knew where he was.
He had told her he was going where I was the last time she saw him.
And that was when he told me he was going with them.
Anger was the new emotion coursing through my body.
Had he lied to me?
I made my way through the building in a frenzied pace, hoping I would find him.
He was nowhere.
I headed back to another building to see if he was there, anger, fear, anxiety and worry brewing.
My heart was in my throat; was he OK? where was he?
And again…had my child lied? If so, why?
I thought I caught a glimpse of him as I walked back up the hill and called his name.
Was it not him?
I kept waiting for him to catch sight of me and come running but nothing.
The few yards I had to walk seemed to take an eternity until I got up to the building and finally saw him coming around the other side.
“There you are,” he said, “I have been looking for you.”
I was immediately relieved, grateful and wanted to sob I was so happy to see him. But, in true fashion, I did what all the women in my family do when scared out of our wits.
I yelled at him. Or more accurately, screamed. Irish banshee, soul rendering screams.
All the way home.
I am not even sure what I said, other than, “Where were you and what were you thinking?”
I am sure it was much worse than that because I was in an anxiety fever fit.
I had been looking for him for 20 minutes and every imaginable horror that could happen to my child had raced through my mind.
When I saw he was safe and sound, I unleashed locusts on his little mop top self.
After we got home, I continued my rant.
“You just need to calm down,” Lamar said.
Even though I have no empirical evidence to support this claim, I am pretty sure saying that to a hysterical woman has only proved to worsen the situation.
I texted Mama to let her know I was home, because even though I am nearly 46 years old, she wants to know I am safe. Wanting to know your child’s whereabouts, no matter how old and grown they were, was never more tacit than at this moment.
“Home –too exhausted and upset to talk. Talk later.”
“What’s wrong? Are you OK?” was her immediate response.
“Just really upset and don’t want to rehash.”
So she did what any mother would do – even this mama.
“What’s wrong?” she repeated her question.
I briefed her on the events of the last 40 minutes.
“Bottom line, if he had just been where I told him to be – which was with me – to begin with, this would not have happened. I have let him have too much freedom.”
She was quiet. Unusually quiet. Normally, Mama is the one who defends Cole, her only grandchild, no matter what and things that would have gotten me whoopings for days, she waves away and tells me to let it slide.
This time, she wasn’t so quick to defend.
“Put Cole on the phone,” she said sternly.
I handed him the phone.
He quietly talked to his grandmother for 15 minutes before handing the phone back to me.
“We have discussed what happened,” Mama began. “It was a matter of miscommunication, but, we came up with some ways to avoid it in the future.”
“There won’t be any future incidents,” I said. I was being irrational I know, but I was still shaking.
“You can’t do that, Kitten,” she said quietly. “You can’t do that with him, no more than I could do that with you when you were his age. He is a good kid. Remember that. A good kid. But still a kid. And sometimes, you have to give him chances, even if it means he messes up.”
“How are you so calm about this?” I asked.
“Because,” she began, “I know how that feels. Oh, how I know that feels. It’s an awful feeling. But, he thought you heard him tell you where he was going and you didn’t. It was, as I said before, just a miscommunication. That’s all.”
Mama did something Granny in all of her infinite, omnipotent power and wisdom had never been able to do.
Mama was somehow on both of our sides.