Monday, August 27, 2012

Middle School Mahem: The day my heart stood still!

Today was Madison's first day of middle school, and starting the day out, I had so many thoughts running through my head:

First of all, how did we get to this day so soon? It seems like just yesterday I was dropping her off for her first day of kindergarten, and here she is in the 6th grade. It just seems so crazy to me. It got me thinking about how fast time passes. Before we know it, she will be going off to college...getting married...having children. And I seriously do not feel old enough to have a child who will be turning 12 in a few months.

I look at pictures of her from just a few years ago and she seemed so little. She still seems so young to me - but then I think of myself at her age - at how I thought I was so mature, so responsible. I mean, I was babysitting at her age. I look at her now; though, at the childlike na├»vety that she still possesses, and I think that my parents (sorry mom...hehe) must have been crazy to allow me to assume responsibility for someone else's children when I, myself, was still so young and ignorant. I don't know...the whole thing just blows my mind. I have a middle schooler.

I know that for Madison, today must have been pretty scary. She was at the same elementary school since first grade. She knew all of the teachers and the staff, and was known on campus as the girl whose nose was always in a book. Now, not only is she at a new school with new teachers, but her best friend is at a different school this year too, so she has to really put herself out there and try to form new friendships. She is basically in a new, scary place and is just another strange face in the crowd.

To complicate things further, she takes a bus to school this year for the first time in her life; a fact that has had her both excited and nervous. Change can be a scary thing, and a little ounce of fear and uncertainty was to be expected - on both of our parts. We just had no idea how real that fear would be for us today when all was said and done.

Everything was fine this morning (on my part, at least) as I sent her off to school with my husband, Zach. He had decided to drive her himself so he could take her in early to meet the band director (he is a musician and so band for her this year is - well, a big deal). I was a little sad because it was the first year I wouldn't be driving her myself, but I thought I was handling it pretty well.

I went about my day as usual, but was in constant anticipation of her return - anxious to hear about how her first day had gone. When 2:30 p.m. rolled around, I hopped in the car and drove to where her bus is supposed to drop her off. Shortly thereafter, the bus pulled up and kids started piling out.

I suddenly had an extremely bad feeling as kids continued to emerge through the bus doors who were not my daughter, but I told myself that it was just first-day jitters - that I was just nervous about Madison riding a bus for the first time, and that everything was going to be fine. She was probably just going to be one of the last kids off the bus. After all, Madison and I had reviewed the details for her bus route over and over to make sure she knew which bus to get on and where her stop was located in relationship to the house. What was there to worry about, right?

Well, as I sat there starting to freak out a little, the last child hopped off the bus, the doors closed behind him, and the bus driver began to pull away. I saw one of her friends from elementary school and asked him if he had seen Madison on the bus, thinking maybe she just forgot to get off? He said he had actually seen her as the bus was pulling away from the school - walking in the opposite direction. I realized then that she probably just missed her bus and either went to the office or was directed by a faculty member to hop on a late bus. After all, I hadn't received a phone call from the school, so I was trying to tell myself that she was okay and that she was somehow still on her way home.

I tried calling the number to the school district transportation department, but despite several attempts, their line was just ringing busy. I then tried the school but was unable to get through to the office. I just kept getting a revolving message that said to call back during normal business hours, which it still was, by the way. They were supposed to have been open until 3:30 p.m. and it wasn't even 3:00 p.m. yet. I was really starting to get frustrated and felt the panic settling in. I finally just decided to drive to the school to see if she was there somewhere.

When I got to the school, I went in to the office and told the secretary up front what had happened. She had said that some children who had missed their bus were directed to get on later buses that would take them to their normal stop (since it was the first day of school and things were basically chaotic, I guess they expected some kids to have issues?) She then told me to call the transportation department to see if they could track down which bus she had gotten on. I told her I had tried that but the line was ringing busy. She then suggested I go and wait by her stop to see if she had, in fact, gotten on a different bus, and to keep trying to call the transportation line. She also gave me the number to campus police and said to call them if I couldn't get through to them and/or if she wasn't at her stop.

At this point, I was freaking out because the school had no idea where my child was. I kept telling myself that it was all going to be okay though, and that she was probably just walking home from the bus stop by now. On my way out of the office, I ran into another parent who I happened to know from Madison's elementary school, and apparently, her son had missed his bus too. We exchanged numbers and I told her that I would call her when Madison was finally located so that I could let her know if her son was on the same bus. She agreed to do the same, in case her son was dropped off first.

I called home to see if there was any sign of Madison, but there wasn't, so I drove to the bus stop to wait for her there. After arriving at her stop, several minutes passed by and still there was no bus. I finally got a call from the other mother telling me her son was home, but that Madison had not been on his bus either. I could feel the tears welling up inside, but I told myself that I was not going to cry. I WAS going to find her and she was going to be okay.

I tried calling the transportation line one more time, but it was busy, so I dialed the number to campus police. I told them the situation and they informed me that they would look into the situation and call me back. I then started cussing myself out for not sending her to school with her cell phone. She had gotten it taken away over the weekend and I had had half a mind to send it with her today in case of an emergency, and then confiscate it when she got home. In the end; though, we decided against it, and I was seriously kicking myself in the behind. The ONE day something like this happens, she doesn't have her phone. I seriously wanted to scream.

I said a silent prayer, pleading with Heavenly Father to keep her safe and bring her home to me. Finally, after a few more minutes, my phone rang and it was a number I didn't recognize, so I answered it quickly hoping that it was someone who could give me some answers.

Thankfully, it was Madison. She was calling me from a business nearly 2 miles from our house. How she had gotten there is an entirely different story. She was obviously upset; though, and practically in tears, and all I wanted to do was get to her ASAP and wrap her in my arms.

She stayed on the phone with me the entire time that I drove to her, and as I pulled in front of the building where she had been waiting for me, I saw her burst into tears - tears of relief - an emotion that both of us were experiencing in that moment of joy.

She got into the car and collapsed into my arms and we both had a good cry. I asked her what had happened and she explained how she had missed the bus, and then one thing led to another. I don't want to go into the details right now because I am literally spent emotionally from the traumatic events of the afternoon. Tune in tomorrow and I will fill you in on the details. I will tell you, though, that I took her out for ice cream immediately after picking her up. I figured we were both in some serious need of some comfort food. :)

The important thing right now is that she is home. I am just so grateful to my Heavenly Father for taking care of her and getting her back to me safely.


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