By Contributing Mama Daphne Biener
Today, for about 20 minutes, my heart stopped. Or rather, it jumped through my chest and up my throat where it got stuck and thumped hard enough to block the tears that were threatening but not ready to fall.
20 minutes. That’s how long Kira, my seven and a half year old, was missing this afternoon. I will tell you this: for those 20 minutes, plus the five hours following them during which I did a whole lot of shaking, screaming, crying and hugging, during that time I did not once think in terms of blue and red. I did not wring my hands about being away from the polling stats of CNN for half a day. I did not stress about the future of the country or even the future of my family beyond getting my hands back on my missing kid.
This is the plan we’ve been following for two years: Four of five days, Kira rides the bus. One of five days, Mondays, I pick her up. That way we can not only make it to swim lessons on time, but coming up to the school allows me a tiny opportunity to be a somewhat social mommy; schedule a play-date, plan a cup of coffee or a gripe session, the typical stuff of after-school at the schoolyard.
This afternoon I was on my game. Blog written. Dinner prepared. Bathing suits packed. Snacks in the bag. On time at school for pick-up. Problem? Kira never showed up. Her best friend, the one she has been almost physically attached to since kindergarten, showed up. The rest of the rambunctious second grade, they showed up. No Kira. I started to freak.
With her classroom teacher and I running the halls, Kira’s friends combed the building while the moms outside searched the playground. The office staff started making calls.
Going through my head was that third-grader in the next town who fought off her would-be abductor. Going through my head were the reams of paper sent home on Election Day Sickos voting at the polling place in our school. Going through my head was the sane thought that maybe she somehow got passed me and boarded the bus. Then again, if she wasn’t on the bus…. I couldn’t even complete that thought in the circus of my own head.
Twenty minutes. It’s not a long time if you’re trying to get kids to eat breakfast and brush teeth. It’s not long at all if you are cooking up dinner with one hand and correcting homework with the other.
It is interminable if you don’t know where your kid is.
Kira did get on that bus, and once the dispatcher tracked her down and confirmed her location I hauled ass to make it home, flying through the neighborhood with pictures of my kid, scared and sitting alone in the street by our house.
When I arrived the school bus was sitting there, waiting for me. I grabbed Kira, too angry and relieved and terrified to speak as I manhandled her into the car.
Then I leaned in to thank Sammy, the angel of a bus driver. And Sammy said, “Oh, it’s nothing. I just wanted to make sure she was safe until you arrived.”
It’s nothing. Yeah, right, nothing. I started to cry.