We went through the bus route… the after school routine… the recess and lunch. We went through the “Stranger Danger” program and had a secret word… “just in case”.
I put my little guy on the bus that morning with a note in his backpack for his new teacher… explaining how he’d be staying for the “after school program” that I’d registered him into weeks before. I knew she’d not have time for 26 notes from anxious parents… but this was MY boy! I put him on the bus that morning then followed it to school with the rest of the parents to “high five” our children on their way into “big school” and take the expected “first day of school” photos. Then, with a heavy heart, I headed home.
It was a new beginning.
At the end of the day I was anticipating his arrival and decided to pick him up from the after school program a bit early. I had the day off work… but left him at school so he’d see the full routine. I couldn’t wait to hear his adventures!
I headed to the school, but not before stopping at the mailboxes to retrieve my mail. Just as I was getting back into the car, I turned my head to the sound of the familiar voice frantically yelling “Mommy wait” as he ran out into the usually busy street.
My heart stopped.
I scooped up my boy and tried my best not to alarm him while I buckled him safely into his seat. I drove towards the school as he prattled on in the back seat about his eventful day. How he got in the bus line… how the driver dropped him at the same spot he’d picked him up that morning… how he’d waited for me even though the other parents were there to get their kids…. then asking… why I forgot him.
All of his words were swimming around in my head… jumbled… foggy.
I calmly arrived at the school, hand-in-hand with my child, and left him with my friend and her children at the playground. Mama Bear came out the second I entered the Principal’s Office. People cleared out of my way. I unleashed.
It wasn’t until all three children were tucked in later that night… that I completely fell apart.
I received several apologies… and one “it’s the first day of school” excuse. Which sent me on a sarcastic rampage of “what if my child had been hit by a car… ohhhhhhh sorry… it was the first day of school” and “what if he’d gone with someone he didn’t know… ohhhhhh sorry… it was the first day of school”. The “what ifs” started coming out of me in the office… but continued in my mind for several days.
I tucked my son in that night and sent a prayer to the heavens… for putting me at that exact spot… at that exact moment… on that exact day. For making a “usually busy street” clear of traffic. I dropped to my knees and asked that it not be the last time I’d be there to protect my children… and that nothing like this would ever happen again.
Within the last month… two children in Halifax were lost while at daycare.
I know the “what ifs” that are running through those parents’ minds.