He didn’t get lost in the mall. He didn’t slip under the water at a swimming class for a second too long. He didn’t dart across the street without looking both ways. It wasn’t any of those but over the weekend, I had my first true, real mama bear panic.
I like to think I’m relatively chill. Shifting to the ‘I’m 7 and I want to go in the men’s room by myself now’ didn’t really phase me. Except at highway stops – The visual of him being nabbed, thrown into a dirty cab of an 18-wheeler and taken from me…well it flashed through my mind the first time I let him go in (and the last time).
Saturday morning we were running late for his piano class. Every week he begs me to go in by himself. It’s down two long hallways and up two flights of stairs, around a corner and into a classroom. It’s maybe a 3 minute walk from the parking lot. Since we were late, I looked at him and said, ‘you just run in and I’ll meet you up at your class.’ He was thrilled. I parked. And as I slid the car into park, my internal mama bear thought, ‘are you insane??’ (or maybe it was my internal older sister who I knew would be saying that). So I got out of the car and I ran into the piano lesson.
I was so happy to see him on the bench, patiently waiting for Ms. Wendy. But he had this weird smirk on his face, the one he gets when he thinks I’m going to be mad at him.
Me – ‘Will? What’s going on buddy?’
Will – ‘Nothing’ tons of giggling and his head buried in my lap.
Me – ‘Will. I need you to sit up and tell me why you’re being all smirky.’
He couldn’t. He wouldn’t. And my heart started to pound. And my voice got a bit shrillish.
Will – ‘Well. I told him to stop touching me but he wouldn’t.’
HEART STOPS. THROAT CLOSES. VOICE RISES.
Me – ‘Will. I need you to sit up right now and tell me what you’re talking about. I’m not angry at all but I’m really worried and you’re scaring me.’
The giggles just continued to the point where I felt I was going to slap him across the face to get him to stop. I could feel it. I was crazed.
I took a breath and grabbed him by the shoulders and forced him to look at me. ‘Will. Right now. Right now. I need you to tell me what you’re talking about.’
I think the tears in my eyes got through to him and he said, ‘I ran into this kid from school downstairs who I don’t like very much and he just kept hugging me, even after I asked him to stop.’ This was a kid that I told him to walk away from because he seemed to be constantly bugging the crap out of him.
I’m not really sure how I reacted to be honest. Ms. Wendy came out and I hugged him, wished him luck and went down to the car and cried for a minute. Tears of sheer relief. Tears of sadness that we live in the kind of world where the scenario I pictured would even enter my mind. Tears that I love someone so much that I would do absolutely anything in the world for him.
When I picked him up a half hour later, I told him we needed a debrief. I explained to him that there isn’t one thing in the entire world that he could tell me that I wouldn’t want to hear. (I will revise this as he gets older…:)).
He’s seven, closing in on eight. His world is growing daily. I’m so excited for where it’s going to take him.
And I’m scared out of my mind.