So, I've been praying lately that God would remove the excess noise in my life. It is my belief that God is more often than not trying to communicate with us, but because of our busy lifestyles, we often miss it. So, I have been praying that God would show me what needs to go. Because of my personality, I definitely error on the side of being too involved. Now, I am not sure if today's events were a specific warning from God (or, more appropriately, him dropping a ton of bricks on my head because I wasn't hearing him well enough) or just happenstance, but I will be writing my "I will no longer be substitute teaching e-mail" tomorrow. The following is why.
Today, I had either crazy and/or incredibly scary things happen to each one of my boys as I subbed for a high school math class at the local high school. I will start with the least scary event first.
Kole, my precious highly-sensitive five-year-old, has pre-K from 8:45-11:15. On Thursdays when I sub, Karl leaves for work late and takes Kole to school and Owen to the sitters, one street over. The first part of the year, Kole's friend's mom (in his class) drove him to the sitter's house for the rest of the day. When a free pre-school opportunity presented itself for Kole's friend, I needed to find different transportation for Kole to the sitters. This has been more challenging than I thought (since the sitters is just 4 minutes from the school), but I finally found a girl at the preschool's dad (whom I carpooled with when our oldest went to pre-K) who also goes to this sitter's to take Kole on Thursdays. We left it several weeks ago that if Kole was there, the dad would just know to take him (since late sub calls make for crazy mornings, I wanted to make sure it was just standard procedure). So, around 11:45 today I get a call from Kole's teacher saying that he hadn't been picked up. Well, I could probably make it during lunch, but wonderful Mrs. C said that Kole would be welcome to come to the afternoon class (it was play in the snow and eat pancakes day) as well and I could just pick him up after school. We also decided that in the future, I would stick a note in Kole's folder on Thursdays when I sub to let the school know to have Kole out and ready for the dad to pick up. Of course, this was embarrassing, but our new solution sounded like a good one. Problem solved.
Problem number two: For the first half of the year (and last year as well) Braden got off the bus and went to the neighbor boy's house on Thursdays. In December, that wonderful family moved away so I needed to come up with a new plan. So, I contacted another helpful neighbor, Holly, whose kids ride the bus and asked if Braden could come over there as standard procedure on Thursdays (again, to avoid early morning chaos on the mornings I sub). She said it was fine. Well, two weeks ago her son told Karl that Braden couldn't come over, so Karl called me at school and told me Braden couldn't come over there (never mentioning it was the 7 year old learning disabled boy who had told Braden this, not a parent phone call) and so I scrambled around to make other arrangements for Braden to come to the babysitters. When I arrived at the sitters, Braden was not there. Come to find out, the bus driver had only partially listened to the message the transportation department had left (I guess??!!??) and had dropped him off at the neighbor's house anyway. Luckily, the neighbor boy had been wrong and his mom was planning on Braden, but of course, I was calling the bus station wondering where in the world my son was in a panic. SOOOOO, fast forward to today. I wrote another note today reiterating that Braden would be getting off the bus at this same neighbor's house and if there was a problem, to call me. Well, because of the incident with Kole's pre-K, I was able to come home a little early and was home for Braden's bus. However, because of problem number three (soon to be disclosed) I had stopped off at Amy's (another neighbor's house where we all regularly frequent). I thought to myself, I could stand out and flag the bus down (our neighborhood is very small, consisting of two cul-de-sacs and I was just across the street from our house) but because of two week's ago, and the bus driver's tendency to be borderline unkind/rude to Braden, I'd just call Holly's and ask her to send Braden down to Amy's right away. So, as Braden was waiting for the bus to pass (it turns around in the cul-de-sac) on his way to Amy's, the driver stopped and asked him, “What’s wrong now?” Braden answered, “Holly told me to go over to Amy’s and my mom’s over there.” The bus driver then made Braden get on the bus. Braden saw our van in Amy’s driveway, but the bus driver called the school and instead of checking at the house, where Braden was told to go, took him back to his elementary school.
In the meantime, I didn’t understand why it was taking Braden so long to get to Amy’s (4 houses down the street), so I called over to Holly’s when we didn’t see Braden coming. She said that she had given him the message to go and sent him on his way. I rushed home (across the street) thinking that maybe he had gotten in the house (although I didn’t know why/how) and, when he wasn’t there, listened to the answering machine hoping for some explanation. Amy started rushing around the neighborhood screaming Braden’s name. At this point, I called 911 to report a missing child since there wasn’t any message on my machine. As I was giving details about Braden, Holly called the school and found out that Braden had been taken there. After the fact, I realized there had been a phone call made to my cell phone from Cleveland at 3:09, but this was, in my opinion, well after Braden had gotten off the bus.
When I got to the school, my fairly unemotional seven-year-old son, Braden, was sitting all alone with tears in his eyes. We talked and I hugged him saying how worried I was and how I had called 911 and he told me the story. When I asked him (later) why he had tears in his eyes, he said it was because Zita (the bus driver) had "gotten after him." You can bet I've already written a letter of complaint about this incident.
Now, you think this is bad? Wait til you hear problem number three. Mind you, this all happened TODAY!!!! As I pulled into my neighborhood from picking up Kole (about 15 minutes before the Braden incident), I called the sitter to see if Owen was still down for his nap and if I should wait a little to pick him up. She responded with a terrifying story about how Owen had snuck out of her house during naptime and my neighbor found him (one street over) and now had him. At this time, Amy is flagging me down. The sitter, of course, is in a panic and so apologetic, but at this point I don't really understand what happened (except I figured Owen went in the woods in between our neighborhoods and went to Amy's. This, by the way, would have still been a good 15-20 minute walk, I would guess, for a three year old.) Well, when I get to Amy's I'm able to put the rest of the story together:
Owen did indeed sneak out of the sitter's house during naptime with his boots on and only a thin long-sleeved shirt and pants. (Keep in mind, there is a creek in the sitter's backyard and a retention pond in our neighbor's yard. That's just an added bonus of what might have been.) Next, he doesn't go through the woods, he starts walking down the long, curvy street towards the main road. When he gets to the main road, he turns left along the road heading to our house ("to watch tv"). About halfway in between the sitter's street and mine, a lady must see this little child walking and stops to find out what in the world is going on. About this same time my neighbor Donna, who is late taking her daughter to school, looks down the road and thinks she sees Owen and me. As she looks, though, she realizes that it's not me. She quickly goes over and explains she's not the mom but a neighbor. Then, she goes to Amy's (who knows much of what is going on in our lives) to try to understand what's happening. Amy explains that I was subbing today and Owen was at the sitters. So, they go to the sitter's so she's not completely panic stricken. As I understand it, since Owen was supposed to be taking his nap, SHE DIDN'T EVEN KNOW HE WAS MISSING!!!
I don't even know what to do with all of this information. Obviously, I will no longer be subbing. My children may never have a babsitter again. BTW, at supper tonight, I asked Owen if cars were passing him on the busy road. He smiled and said something like, "Yeah! It was funny! When they went by my hair was like this (making it stand straight up)"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Can you even imagine?!? I can't even get control of my emotions. I think I'm still in a complete state of shock. Karl hasn't even come home yet (it's 10 p.m.) and I haven't called him. I don't even know what to say. I've been in a semi-zombie-like state all evening, only coming out of it to cuddle/play with the boys. I may need a counselor. We may ALL need a counselor. Great timing, huh? Right before we bring another precious child into our home. I can't make much sense of all this happening today--except that, possibly, God is saying, "Too much, Danielle. You have too much going on. Remember that noise you were asking about? Subbing, in this season at least, is noise." It's hard not to blame myself for much of this, even though I know it's not totally my fault. I still can't help but think, "If only I was one of those REALLY careful moms, none of this would have happened." I know in my mind that's at least somewhat silly, but still I go there.
Okay, God, you definitely got my attention. Thank you for protecting my children today, even when I couldn't. I love you.