Last Saturday began as most do, for me, these days.
I made breakfast and then I cranked the stereo. Once my children heard Neil Diamond blaring throughout the house, they knew it was cleaning time.
As I sang along to “Sweet Caroline,” over the roar of the vacuum, my children scattered and escaped to their bedrooms.
When each of their doors slammed shut, I wondered if it was because they didn’t appreciate my “cleaning music” or if they were trying to avoid being put to work.
I decided it was probably both and made up my mind I’d let them be free from my cleaning madness, for a short time. They were out of my way and with Neil’s help, I could get a lot accomplished.
While I was putting a load of laundry in the washing machine, I belted out “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show,” putting aside all fear that I sounded like a bad karaoke wannabe.
Until, that is, I realized my 10-year-old was standing there, staring at me in annoyance and embarrassment. When I stopped singing, my son jumped at the chance to ask,
“Can I go on a bike ride?” The sheer desperation was evident in his pleading eyes, as well as in his voice.
Understanding his need to get away from the house, my cleaning, and my singing, I told him he could go for a bike ride with one stipulation.
“You have to come back in an hour and check in,” I instructed.
It was as though I had told him the best news ever, and he was out the door in a second with his little legs pedaling as fast as they could.
I got back to business, mopping the kitchen floor while Neil, my cleaning motivation, shared his fun “Crunchy Granola Suite” song with me. I will even admit to dancing around the linoleum with my mop in hand.
Time passed quickly while I tidied up room after room (and attempted to harmonize with Mr. Diamond) and suddenly, I realized my son hadn’t come back to check in. He was only a half hour late, and though I wasn’t worried, I got in my van and drove around the neighborhood.
I didn’t see him, or his bike, in the four-block area he is allowed to go. I made five more trips through the neighborhood with his little sister and big brother in tow.
We were going to go shopping when I was done cleaning, but couldn’t until their brother was home. As siblings, they were irritated with this disruption and were not shy in letting me know.
“Where the heck is he?” big brother demanded in aggravation.
“He’s gonna be so grounded!” little sister announced with delight.
Hours went by and all anger or frustration changed to concern and worry. After searching around our home, knocking on doors, and making phone calls, with no luck, I began to panic.
I still thought he had just forgotten to check in but, not wanting to take the chance that something bad happened, I called the police.
When an officer arrived at my house, and I explained the situation, I felt my eyes well up with tears and my hands began to tremble.
I gave a description of my missing boy and had a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. I couldn’t remember what color pants he was wearing so I felt like the worst mother ever. How could I know the words to every Neil Diamond song, but not notice what my child was wearing?
The search continued, but this time included, not only my van, but two police cars. I called grandpa and grandma in my mommy terror and kept looking anywhere and everywhere. Just as I was about to completely lose it, I spotted him. Ahead of me, on our road, was my son on his little black dirt bike. He was pedaling with lightning speed to our house.
I stopped next to him and before I could say anything, he asked, “Mom, you called the police? I just lost track of time!”
Apparently, my little stinker was over at a friend’s house and when he realized what time it was, he headed for home. While he was en route, a police car pulled up next to him and the officer asked him his name; then ordered him to go directly home.
Once he entered the door, my son had to answer to me, his siblings, and the police.
Concern and worry made me hold onto my guy so tight with a big sigh of relief. (And I couldn’t help make a mental note that he was wearing tan pants.) Anger and frustration made me tell him he’d be spending many Saturdays, stuck in the house with mom . . . and Mr. Diamond.