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When Your Child Goes Missing

Vince was on an emotional rollercoaster when his son couldn't be found.

Of all the things I thought I would do on my children’s first day of school, going to the police station to report my son missing wasn’t one of them.

Yet that’s exactly what I had to do last Wednesday when began its school year.

When you’re a worrier like I am, you make a mental list of all the things that could go wrong and constantly fret about them. You don’t want to, but the little voice in your head just keeps reminding you to worry.

And not only do you worry about bad things, you constantly warn your children about potential dangers whether they’re real or not. It’s with this mindset that I began to prepare for the school year.

Because my son has made the leap from elementary to middle school, I had warned him 5,833 times about looking both ways before crossing Ralston Avenue each morning as he heads to the bus stop.

“Some drivers are in a rush to get to work in the mornings so be 100 percent certain they see you before you cross the street,” I warned. “Not everyone actually yields to pedestrians.”

I’ve preached to my son to be mindful of the cars parked on the streets as he walks to the bus stop. I’ve warned of stranger danger and even people that he recognizes that give him the heebie-jeebies.

Despite all my careful planning for the start of the school year, I overlooked one possible scenario. And don’t you know in the name of Murphy’s Law that is just what happened.

I never assumed that my son would get on the bus for the first time (his older sister got placed on a different bus) and all but one other kid on the bus would be headed to Redwood Shores.

When the bus made its stop near the Belmont Library, where he was supposed to get off, and the overwhelming majority of the kids remained seated, my son said he questioned whether that was indeed the correct place to get off the bus.

As the bus headed over the US 101 toward Redwood Shores, he knew it was too late to get off the bus. My son said he had contemplated getting off the bus and walking home from Redwood Shores. But the little voice in his head told him to stay on the bus and see if it would make a return trip back to Belmont.

When all the kids who lived in Redwood Shores got off the bus, my son told the bus driver that he had missed his bus stop and asked if he could get a ride back to Ralston Middle School. My son was put on a different bus and enjoyed the view as the bus followed its route and eventually made its way back to Ralston Middle School.

But during the hour that my son was safe on the bus, my daughter and I were on an emotional rollercoaster.  

My daughter, who is usually calm, phoned me in panic. She arrived at the and didn’t see her brother. She watched as bus after bus had dropped off kids and not one of them was her brother.

She said she went into the library and searched the entire place and couldn’t find her brother. She was in a panic when she called me. I rushed to the library and told her to wait there as I drove around the bus route and even went to Ralston Middle School looking for my son.

When I didn’t find him, I called the bus company and asked if they could check their buses to see if he was on one of them. Then I went to the police station and began the process of reporting my son missing.

While I was talking to one of the officers, a call came in over the police radio informing them that my son was at Ralston waiting for me.

When I saw my son, I smiled. I was happy to see him. I told him I was proud of his decision-making skills. I was glad he stayed on the bus and didn’t try to walk home.

On the drive home, I began to formulate some new worst case scenarios.

I didn’t want to, but the little voice in my head told me to do it. 

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