My son was invited to an after-school birthday party at the beach. He celebrated the same friend’s birthday at the beach last year, so when he mentioned it, I remembered last year. Last year I asked, “Will his parents be there? How will you get there? How will you get home? Are the parents staying the whole time?” And I worried a little.
This year, same friend, same parents, same beach, same everything.
I forgot, though, that the party was today until I received a text message from my son asking me to meet him after school with his swimsuit, boogie board and lacrosse stick. I took the liberty to add sunscreen and a beach towel to the bag and I met him at school.
He sauntered up to my van with his friend, all cool like a 15-year old is. I pushed the button and the back of the van slid up and he grabbed the bag and lacrosse stick and boogie board. I said through the open windows, “Hey, do you need a ride home?” and he said, “I don’t know.”
“Well, text me,” I said, “And let me know when you know.”
Fast-forward a few hours. My husband, The Good Parent, says, “So when is our son coming home?” and I said, “I don’t know. I figure after it’s dark.”
At 7 PM, I text my son: “Any idea what time you’ll be home? Or need a ride? Dad’s asking . . .”
I took a nap. When I woke at 8 PM, my husband said, “When is our son coming home?” and I said, “I don’t know. I”ll text him.”
I texted him. “Hello?”
At 8:27 PM, I text again. “Hey, let me know what’s going on when you have a chance.”
Then, a bit later: “Please text me.”
At 8:59 PM: “I’m heading to the beach to look for you. Please call me.”
While I drove to the beach, I thought all those dark thoughts you think when you consider the worst possible outcome. Had my boy drowned? And the parents didn’t know how to reach me to break the news? Were they in a terrible car crash and no one survived and therefore, no one called me?
Honestly, I figured that my son’s phone was in his pocket of his shorts and he was wearing a swimsuit, not those shorts and he just didn’t hear his phone. Or rather, feel it since none my kids keep their phones’ ringers on. They depend on the buzz of a silenced phone to alert them. (Don’t ask me. I have no idea.)
I walked down the steps to the beach, walked along the sidewalk and up onto the Pier for a better view. I saw three separate campfires and strolled by each one, straining to see my son’s blond hair in the darkness.
He wasn’t there.
I headed back up the stairs toward my van. Before I reached the top of the stairs, at 9:23 PM, I got a text from him. He was just leaving the beach, safely in the car. He left his phone in the pocket of his shorts in his bag.
I knew it.
But seriously. I ought to be fired. I failed to get any contact information for the parents. I didn’t know for sure which beach they were going to. I had no idea what time they’d be home. I couldn’t remember the friend’s name. (My son pointed out later that he’d mentioned the friend’s name in his original text this afternoon. And he reminded me that the friend’s dad is a teacher at the school. Oh yeah, now I remember.)
The moral of the story?
Don’t do as I do. Do as I say. And be sure you know where your kids are and what time they’ll be home.
Stop being so relaxed about everything! Someone’s gonna put an eye out with you in charge! And by “you”, of course I mean, “me.”
Don’t be me.