Today started out like any other day. Kids up, back to bed, sleep, up for lunch, then off to work… As I was walking into work, a colleague of mine, John*, (who is also a good friend of the family) was leaving a bit earlier than usual. He informed me that he had to go get his son, Kevin*, who is also a friend of Teenager’s, at Science Olympiad* practice. About an hour later, John called asking me if I’d seen Kevin. When I said no, he asked for me to go look around for him. John said that Kevin didn’t go to *Science Olympiad practice or *soccer practice. One of his friends told John that Kevin had gotten in trouble at school and saw him walking towards John’s work. I looked around, didn’t see him. Not too much later the cops came in and told us to do an all call for Kevin, so we did. John texted me that he was filing a police report.
Before my dinner break, I texted John back and asked if he needed me to do anything. Never got a response, so I headed home. Got home and grabbed a bite to eat. Rob was in a bad mood, I was in a bad mood and something kept telling me to drive by the school. I didn’t know where John was but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to drive by and see if I saw Kevin. So I drove by the school and there were some cars in the front, so when I drove on the side of the school and saw what I thought was a person sitting over in the distance in the walkway light, I had to do a U-turn to get a better look. Once, I did that, I realized it was a person sitting there, so I drove up into the round about, parked, and got out of the car. Not knowing if it was him, I started walking towards this person. The person was already headed in the other direction. I called his name out as he started to run off. I jumped back in the car and circled back around to try and catch up to him. I called his dad, who I found out was in the area and told him I was pretty sure I had seen Kevin and that he ran from me when I got out of the car and called his name. As I was on the phone I saw Kevin running again and was able to ask his dad what he was wearing to ensure that it really was him. But again, I was going in the opposite direction. We hung up the phone so he could call the cops. The scary part at this point, at least in my mind, was that there was some pretty dense woods right behind the school and if he was smart and really didn’t want to be found, he would go up in there. I circled back around the block and sat at the stop sign facing right near where I had seen him before. I turned my car lights off and just as I did that I saw him running on the other side of the street. I turned my lights back on and turned left finally catching up to him. I rolled the window down as I drove next to him, I said, “Kevin, you need to come with me. Kevin! Kevin! You can come with me.”
Kevin: “I can’t go! I can’t go!”
Me: “Why can’t you?”
Kevin: as he stopped running to look in the car, he said “I’m scared. My dad. My dad is going to be so mad.”
Me: “It’s going to be ok and if u don’t come with me, he’ll be more mad.”
Kevin: “I can’t, I just can’t.”
Me: “Look Kevin, you’ve got 2 options. Either come with me now or you can deal with the cops. Your dad has called the cops and they will be on their way soon.”
He got in the car, very out of breath.
Me: “Do you want me to take you home?”
Kevin: “Yes. I just couldn’t do it anymore. I can’t keep running and I’m so cold.”
Me: “I’ve got to call your dad and tell him I’ve got you. Ok?”
So I called his dad and told him that I had him in my car and that he just wants me to take him home. His dad said, “Why? Does he think I’m mad?” I said answered, “Yes.” He said, “Tell him I’m not mad.”
Me: “Your dad’s not mad and would like to talk to you,” passing over the phone.
I sat at the stop sign waiting to see if he just wanted me to bring him back around to his dad, which he did.
Me: “So am I still taking your home?”
Kevin: “Dad wants you to take me around to him. How did u know to come to the school?”
Me: “I figured you probably didn’t go far.”
We drove up next to his dad and Kevin sat there before getting out of the car. I said, “Kevin. look, I know you don’t know me too well, but your dad is a great guy and whatever the problem is yall will work it out and everything will be ok. I love your family and we’re here for yall.” I patted him on the head and he reluctantly got out of the car, closing the door behind him
As I started to leave, Kevin and John hugged. Tears welled up in my eyes and I said a prayer, thanking God for being that little voice in my head telling me to drive by the school…putting me in the right place, at the right time.
I got back to work to report that Kevin had been found. Later John called to thank me for taking my dinner break to help out and I told him something had just told me to drive by the school.
I really didn’t think he’d be there, but in my thinking, unless he was with a friend, he would probably be on the move, not staying in one spot. Meaning, he may go back to the school. I’m thankful, so thankful that Kevin is back at home, safe, and warm. Yes, I’m sure there will be several long conversations and several lessons to be learned, but that’s part of life not only as children, but as parents as well.
*subjects names changed