Thursday, 3 December 2015

When your child goes missing...

It was 8am when the 13-year-old left for school. As usual I had forgotten to pack the 11-year-old's lunch, so as usual I was distracted by Hovis crusts when she called out a goodbye.

It was 11am when the school texted to say that she had not turned up. They asked me to ring but my calls landed in a voicemail box. I crouched over my phone and decided to think things through rationally.

I thought of how I had berated her for her messy room when I'd bidden her goodnight and how I'd complained of her rolled up skirt instead of a morning greeting. I thought of a man in a van snatching her off the street and of a secret tryst with a Facebook imposter. I recalled headlines of body parts in bin liners, of teenage runaways and hit-and-run drivers. I imagined all the empty Christmases of the future without my little girl in.

It was an hour before the school returned my message and told me that she had been in class all along. In that hour, the world shifted infinitesimally.

I spend a lot of time on my daughter -  a lot of time castigating her for smearing foundation on my towel and nail polish on the bath; for plundering the biscuit tin, skimping her homework, ignoring her bedtime and isolating herself on a computer screen.

I do not spend enough time sharing her enthusiasms, inviting her thoughts, appreciating her being. I often think nostalgically of the little girl she used to be; I can't remember the last time I treasured the young woman she has become.

Now the panic is over, I am grateful for that tortured hour. We are inclined to appreciate what we have only once we have lost it. But in my case it was given back to me.

I hope I shall remember now to overlook the superficial annoyances and be thankful for my blessings. I had intended to start tonight - but oh boy, the state of her bedroom when I went in to welcome her home!



12 comments:

  1. How dare they do that to you? How could they! It's totally outrageous that the school put you through this ordeal. I hope you got a BIG apology. All the rest of your post I absolutely agree with.

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    1. They said they have to deal with too many pupils to check whether they are in the school before sending texts and that I should have a 'go' at my daughter for being late (which she wasn't). I've written to them suggesting that they reconsider their processes.

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  2. Urgh! This happened to a friend of mine at primary school too. Luckily she'd seen her go in so she knew she was there. What shocked me is that it took them until 11 to notice! What if she really had gone missing at 8?!

    But yes, as soon as they are vulnerable, all that other stuff no longer matters. If nothing else though, your post has cheered me up to think that we all have daughters who make mess and leave make-up everywhere! I thought it was just me with a slovenly young lady in the house!

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    1. Why, hello you! You are welcome to come and be cheered up by our mess any day!

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  3. Oh Anna. What a terrible tortured time that must have been - and no doubt it seemed much, much longer than an hour. I am so sorry to see you put through this, but heartened that some good has come out of it and you are re-blessed with your daugher XXX

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    1. Thank you. I did know underneath that there was probably a rational explanation, but that didn't stop lurid fears getting the better of me.

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  4. I'm a little behind with my blog reading so I've only just seen this! I'm so sorry Anna, I can only imagine what you must have gone through! If they have too many pupils to deal with perhaps they should rethink their staffing levels? That really is the poorest excuse for people who have a duty of care. So glad she was safe!

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    1. Thank you. I did write in expressing my concerns but the school is standing by its procedures and says I can always leave a message if I noone answers the phone…!

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  5. I'm so sorry the school put you through that terrible ordeal. X

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    1. Thank you for your sorriness. The school isn't in the least bit apologetic.

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  6. Oh my goodness, that's just horrendous. What a horrible situation for you to be in. It's great that it has made you appreciate your daughter (I also need to stop and do this sometimes and mine is only 3) but still, wow. I'm so glad it all worked out ok in the end.x

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    1. I think the shock was good for me. But it is a rubbish system. Thanks for commenting!

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