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Big, Yellow, Shiny.... [Oct. 6th, 2004|04:14 am]
Today I had the absolute shit scared out of me. I can tell you that there is no more frightening and gut wrenching feeling on this planet than thinking you have lost one of your children. I'm not usually prone to complete and utter panic, but that did it.

Picture this. You are 6. Three days ago, you started in a new classroom. You like your teacher. The other kids are nice to you. They accept you. One of them invites you to come sleep over at his house. He says "Oh, you can just ride the bus home with me!" So you do!

Now let me paint for you where the system totally and completely failed.

My children walk home from school. We live extremely close. A block away.

A few weeks ago the school induced mass panic by warning that there had been possible abduction attempts in the area. Police were patrolling, volunteers were escorting children home, parents were being called.

If you visit the school and your bright yellow name tag isn't completely visible, they don't ask questions. They just kick you right on out.

So how did this happen????

Tuesday, Max had a substitute. First issue of WTF??? Why wasn't she given a list of who walks, carpools and rides the bus?? When bus riders were dismissed, Max went with his friend.

He managed to get on the bus without any of the teachers on duty saying "Max, you're a walker." And yes, the teachers know him. It's a fairly small school.

He managed to slip by the bus driver. She didn't demand to see the note of authorization saying "My son will be riding home with soandso today. Signed, Holly Selden."

When Max didn't show up to walk home, Morgan went to his class. No Max. She went to the office. "I can't find my brother!" They said "Oh, he probably just beat you home."

They didn't call. They didn't seem the least bit concerned. They sent her packing.

She arrived home saying "Mommy, did you pick Max up early? I couldn't find him."

WHAT???? "Go get Mr. Jim! See if he saw Max." Mr. Jim was already gone. Morgan had spent considerable time looking for her little brother.

I, in my sweatpants, t-shirt and bare feet, jumped in the car and raced up to the school. "I'm looking for my son. Max Selden. He didn't come home."

To which they replied "Oh, yes, your daughter was looking for him, too." *BOGGLE*

Yeah, hi. 6 year old. Not home. Not at school. These people were told something was wrong and didn't even call me. Didn't think it was important. Looked at me and said "Maybe he's in his classroom." and shrugged. HOLY CRAP PEOPLE.

I'm shaking. I don't know where to look. I don't know what to do. For a full 2 minutes I'm trying to think of places he could have gone. Then the phone rings. The bus driver has a hitchhiker. She's bringing him back.

At this point, at least 2 of the teachers at the school ask me "What would possess him to get on a bus?"

While I did feel it was important to let Max know that he would need prior permission and that he is to always walk home unless otherwise stated by an adult, I do not feel that the entire responsibility fell on the shoulders of a 6 year old.

Furthermore, I want to know why, when the 9 year old (who the school admits is quite responsible in looking out for her younger brother) alerted them to the fact that something was definately wrong, they just brushed it off.

If, heaven forbid, it had been a case of abduction or even just that he took a wrong turn, time is of the essence in beginning to look. Every second counts.

When my son returned to the school, I just held him. I cried. I thought I'd lost one of the three most precious things in the world. Morgan, Madison and Max. My angels. Crazy as they can make me, I'd never be remotely sane again were something to happen to one of them.

We got home and I held him some more. Morgan hugged him. She was on the verge of tears. That little girl might be disorganized in regards to school, but when it comes to looking out for her brothers, she's always on top of her game.

He's safe. He's okay. I know this. It doesn't make me any less angry that I now have to doubt the hands he's in for 8 hours a day.

[User Picture]From: earmgr
2004-10-06 06:02 am (UTC)
That happened to me once when I was about that age . I had desided to walk home from school . Being a bus rider and living almost 2 hours from school by bus , this was not the brightest idea I had ever had . The bus comes and goes to my house . I dont get off , my mom starts driving to the school ,finds me on the road walking home . She picks me up , and keeps going to the school . Needless to say , that bus driver , teacher and principal were not asked back the next year .

Go to the superintendent of the school district . Take your daughter with you . Have her explain what happened when she went to the office looking for her brother . Tell them what happened when you went looking for your son . I would bet money that someone will not be comming back next year for this little mishap . I wouldnt be surprised if all involoved weren't repremanded seriously , or not asked back the next year .
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[User Picture]From: annabrat
2004-10-06 07:31 am (UTC)
Wow. That must have been terrifying! I'm glad it worked out but I'm sure you could have come to the conclusion that you love your children more than anything without having such a scary experience.

Glad to hear they're safe and well-loved.
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[User Picture]From: not_hothead_yet
2004-10-06 07:49 am (UTC)

good god

I had a similar experience after-the-fact when I was informed that second son had WALKED OUT and DOWN THE STREET when they finally found him DURING hours of operation. They did not mention this to me until after it happened. Being an afterschool program, I had misgivings about him going back but the staff assured me they would keep an extra eye on him. No dice, it happened a SECOND TIME. That was when they decided to tell me "oh sorry, we can't keep him here anymore" and I was left to find after-school care for him elsewhere. Suddenly. This coming from a staff who admitted having issues with how he was dropped off - by bus in parking lot - because no one could be AT the bus stop when the bus came by. wha? I know better than to put up with that kind of attitude now, but back then, I trusted people.
The ex, by the way, once told me of a time when second son disappeared while he was supposed to be watching over them. I had to tell him "either you don't go to that place anymore (wooded area) or you can't take them anymore. He happily decided to not take his own kids anymore and blamed me. Haha.

Terrifying... but he's okay, you're okay, Morgan's okay. *shakes head* you really need to talk to school superintendant for sure.
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[User Picture]From: sina_bean
2004-10-06 08:14 am (UTC)
Don't just talk. Write the school board a letter and explain what happened.

I had something similiar happen last year when Megan started kindergarten. I was at the bust stop in the afternoon waiting for the kids to be dropped off and the bus came, kids got off...no Kyle, no Megan. The doors start to shut and I stick my arm in and ask the driver where my children are. She says "I don't know." I admit to blinking and being almost at a loss for words, but then asked "What do you mean, you don't know? If you don't know, who does? Where are my kids?"

Turns out, as the bus was pulling out Kyle realized Megan was not on the bus. So the driver stopped the bus, informed Kyle HE was on the wrong bus,told him to get off and LEFT. Yep, left. So Kyle ran to the office, asking where his sister was and explaining how they were suppose to be on bus 3, which the driver had then put him off of and left without either child.

The office had to call the bus office and have them radio all the buses looking for "a lost girl", which oddly, no one admitted to having. The call then came over bus 3's radio as I was standing there and the driver said she had at least found the mother (I suppose this was for a chuckle but I wasn't laughing, let me tell you). I told them to ask for the child by name (I mean, DOH, it's the first day of school, who thinks they are lost when its all new???) and sure enough she was on the wrong bus because a teacher wrote her bus number and to the aid it looked more like a 5 than a 3 and put her on the wrong bus.

They told me to come to some stop, way out on their route, to get her, and I said no, you bring her to her stop and get her brother too. I guessed they figured they had really screwed up because bus 3 had to run out and meet the other bus back at school to get both kids and bring them back.

I not only spoke with the people involved, but I wrote a letter to the school board, copied to the bus office and needless to say this year the process of making sure kids get on the right bus has changed, and the aide and the bus drivers are gone.

I'm glad that everyone is ok and Max is home safe and sound. I'm extra glad he is watched over by such a great sister! Can you imagine if she hadn't been there to question it? I shudder thinking of the day when Kyle goes to middle school and Megan is in elementary by herself!

Give them both hugs for me! and one for you too! I know how scary it can be!
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[User Picture]From: southside4life
2004-10-06 08:27 am (UTC)
I glad he's okay and such
but it fuckin sucks that schools can't be trusted to be on top of that shit.

-head up pumpkin
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[User Picture]From: a_little_rain
2004-10-06 02:43 pm (UTC)
OMG... you poor thing... good lord. I would have flipped my shit without a doubt. I am so glad he is ok, and so sorry this had to happen to you.
I think I would be the better part into a 6 pack and a bottle of valium by now.... that just sucks, but once again, glad he is alright.
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