Rehearsal was over at 7pm. When the kids didn't arrive home by 7:30, I assumed that the person bringing them had stopped at the grocery or something. I didn't worry about it, because the director of the theater gets annoyed when parents don't show up, and he's prompt about calling if you're not there on time. But by 7:45pm I decided something was wrong.
I called the woman who was supposed to drive. "Do you have my kids?" I asked.
"No! Your daughter didn't say anything, so I didn't think I was supposed to bring them!"
I frantically called the theater to say I was on my way, but the answering machine picked up. My kids had been waiting for 45 minutes. The sun was setting. I took the subway (we don't own a car), but given how much I paced the platform, I might as well have run. In between fervent prayers, I figured that physically the kids would be okay, because they would have been waiting outdoors in an area not visible to passersby. How they'd be emotionally was another story. Little Guy has some anxiety issues, and Snuggler can be a worrier, too.
It was almost dark when I ran up the last half-block, calling out my kids' names. Two yelps of "Mommy!" responded -- and Little Guy leapt into my arms and stayed there, glued tight, until we arrived back at the subway.
As the story unfolded, it became clear there had been a near-Shakespearean confusion of who was supposed to do what. The kids had forgotten they were supposed to go home with the other mom. I'd thought the ride was a done deal, but should have confirmed, anyway. The director, who is normally very strict about pick-up, had a dress rehearsal for a different play immediately following the kids' rehearsal, and didn't realize the kids were still there. The kids knew the director was stressed, and didn't want to bother him to call home.They didn't have a cell, because it didn't occur to me that they had a reason to need one.
Snuggler was amazing. She dug deep and kept herself -- and her brother -- calm and rational. She read the script in funny voices to distract him. When Little Guy wanted to go home, she explained why they couldn't take the train, and why they couldn't walk. She knew to stay put, that (eventually) I'd come."I kept thinking of things that could have happened to you," she said, "But then I'd say, 'Nah, that's not very likely'." I'm extremely proud of my eight year old.
We had a lot to be thankful for last night:
- that it is spring, and the sky stayed light for so long
- that sensible minds prevailed
- that everyone was safe
- that Mom and Dad love their children, and would never abandon them
- that the subway worked relatively quickly
- that we had a warm, safe home to return to
- that Mommy's arms are still big enough to hold Little Guy when he's scared