Chasing the Son: Chapter One -- Possible Runaway

“Not to be the bearer of bad news, but some kids, regardless of what their parents try to do for them, don’t want to be helped, by anyone. There is really nothing you can do for them.”

I feel stupid not having an actual photo with me. Considering it hadn’t been a full 24 hours since he left the house, I didn’t even know if they would ask me for one. Would I seem like a bad mother for not keeping one in my wallet? Is seeming like a bad mother not even an option for me at this point?

I can’t think straight. Nothing but constant questions running through my mind as the police officer wrote down all of my information using my driver’s license as his stepping stone. How does someone go about coordinating a search party? He’s 13 years old, Officer. Is that something the police help with? About 5’3, 115 lbs. Where would we look first? Dark brown hair with bleached bangs, brown eyes, skinny. The park? The school? The bridge? The tracks? He was wearing a gray t-shirt with black Nike shorts and a pair of gray Jordan’s. Would we be able to split into separate groups to cover more ground, or do we have to stay together and look in one central location? No, he doesn’t have a cell phone. Shit…Who would watch the kids while we were searching? He might have his bike with him. What if he is never found? He will be an 8th grader this coming school year. What if he is found? Kids around the neighborhood mostly, but he’s always transitioning into new groups, so it’s hard to keep track. What if he’s crying for me right now? We got into an argument. What if he’s hurt? It was stupid actually. What if he’s walking barefoot right now through an alley full of broken glass because someone stole those damn Jordan’s and that’s why it’s taking so long for him to get home? No, he’s never done anything like this before.

The never-ending questions running through my mind didn’t seem to come with any real answers, even when I asked myself the most important one.

Where in the hell could my child be?

“Here’s your license. Hang tight, I’ll be right back.”

The feeling in me is awkward. Actually that’s stupid to say. There’s no one way to describe the feeling you have when one of your children has possibly run away from home. Deep down I know I should be mad as hell, but the worry is so overbearing that there is no room for anything else, not even the anger.

The room where the officer placed me was dated and had a musty smell. We pay almost $7,000 in property taxes and I’m sitting in a 1960s style leather office chair with some used-to-be white cotton poking out from the side. Unpaved alleys and old chairs. Good to see that my pettiness is able to find room next to the worry.

I’m picking at the not so white cotton when the Officer returns.

“Okay, tell me what happened.”

Well, Officer, you see, he thinks his shit is more important, so I got angry. And then he got angry. And then we both got angry. And then he left.

And then he didn’t come home.

“Can you confirm everything on this statement is true?”

Missing Juvenile – Possible Runaway is the first thing I took in as I glanced over the thin piece of paper. The possible was somewhat of a relief to read. It gave me hope that he might still come home before dawn. It was the runaway bit that bothered me. In my mind, the word runaway in the eyes of a police officer means an abundance of eye rolls. Don’t ask me why I think such things; I just knew I hated the word. My mind is working me at this point and everything is to blame.

“Okay, we’ll notify you if we find him.”

Walking through the station doors, I stopped to look behind me. There was a missing child roaming the streets past curfew. I would at least think that a police officer would be right behind me on his way to his squad car speaking into his walkie-talkie about the missing 13 year old with bleached bangs and gray Jordan’s. But nope…just me, stranded with my thoughts.

I decided to drive around the neighborhood for a while after leaving the police station, after crying. I thought about his move from private to public school and how it was the worst mistake I ever made. I thought about the praise his camp counselors gave him when we arrived at his away camp to pick him up only two weeks prior. I thought about his sense of humor and how it has been recently replaced with nothing but cynicism and disrespect for others. I thought about the kind of influence he was having on his younger siblings. I thought about the meeting I had at his school, and how I had to use my words to fight for my son to get the help he so desperately needed.

“Not to be the bearer of bad news, but some kids, regardless of what their parents try to do for them, don’t want to be helped, by anyone. There is really nothing you can do for them.”

I remember being so confident that day speaking to a room full of school counselors, social workers, special education teachers and the school nurse. I even remember what I said that day as I defended my child.

Look, I understand that you may have encountered children who, like you said ‘don’t want to be helped’, but that’s not my son. That will never be my child. I’m here to do whatever I can to get him the help he needs and he’s going to get it. Whatever that may be.

The confidence from that day was nowhere to be found as I drove around the park, irritated that it was too dark for me to see anything. That confidence was nowhere to be found as I drove past the public school, cursing its name. That confidence was nowhere to be found as I passed the train tracks and the bridge. That confidence was nowhere to be found as I pulled up in front of my house…at 12:24 am…without my son.

You know, in order for us to help you, we need to know what the problem is. We can’t keep guessing, because in all honesty, our guesses so far have been all wrong. Now we’re asking you. What can we do to help you?

I said these exact words to him 3 hours before our argument and he still left me. Not his father. Not his sisters. Not his brother. Me. He left me.

And here I am sitting in my car after midnight, wishing I could run away too, from all of it.

I sit on my front porch to think about things. All the things. All the choices. All the mistakes. All the whatifs. All of it. Fifteen minutes is all I need to drive myself crazy, and I do it quietly from the top step. I’m ten minutes into my pity party when I see him coming down the street. He’s wearing different clothes which is an indication that he was with someone. He looks tired, too, but then again, I'm sure everyone in this house looks the same way. I put my head down for a second to hide my relief. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered relief while sitting here, on my top step.

“You okay?”

“Yeah, but I’m hungry and tired.”

“Two days is a long time to be away from home. To be away from me.”

“I’m sorry.”

“I’m sorry, too. Go inside and let your father know you’re home. He should be upstairs with the kids. Give me ten more minutes.”

“Okay. I love you, ma.”

“Love you, too, Alex.”

“Not to be the bearer of bad news, but some kids, regardless of what their parents try to do for them, don’t want to be helped, by anyone. There is really nothing you can do for them.”

That will never be my child.

I’m here to do whatever I can to get him the help he needs and he’s going to get it.

Whatever that may be.

But now, as I sit on my top step, the sun beating down on my face, I’m not so sure anymore.

Because here I am.

Day three.

Anger overpowers the worry this time around and I embrace it. I encourage it.

Possible Runaway my ass.

************************
Chapter Two -- Coming Soon

Thank you for reading.
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Filed under: Parenting

Tags: Parenting, Runaway, Teenagers

Comments

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  • Welcome back, Alex. And welcome back, Mom. Good to see you, again. Missed you. - OSM

  • In reply to Jenn-Anne:

    Thank you so much for reading. Feels so damn good to be writing again.

  • I couldn't breathe reading your post. When you saw your son, I could finally let air into my lungs.
    Thinking of you and yours.

  • In reply to Kathy Mathews:

    Thank you so much for reading, Kathy.

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