Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Pussycat, pussycat where've you been?

If Hubby had thought that making a hole in the trampoline was the ultimate sin, then our son had other plans. Not deliberately perhaps but nevertheless, consequential.
Minding my own business a few days ago, the house empty of all children, I was, for an hour, able to concentrate for a more than a few seconds at a time. I checked my emails, checked my blog and was about to get the 5 year old from school when the telephone rang.
“Mrs Band? This is the Boys Senior School here. Is your son unwell today?”
My throat constricted impulsively. I couldn’t get any sound out.
“It’s just that he hasn’t been in school today”. A weird strangulated sound was emitted from the core of my body but I think I said something like,
“Oh-my-god-where-is-he-where-can-he-be-he-must-be-dead-internet-peadophiles-accident-out-of-character”. A Kerouac, stream of consciousness babble tumbled out of my mouth. The poor secretary on the other end of the line must have heard this kind of thing before or had braced herself for my reaction, either way, she was very calm.
“I’m so sorry Mrs Band”. I looked at my watch it was 2.40pm. Where had they been all day? Why hadn’t they called earlier?
“We don’t normally call parents for three days. We assume the boy is sick. We only rang you now because a rumour has reached us that he and another boy have gone to Exeter”. I was demented. How could I not have read the signs that he was unhappy at school? How did I not know that he had something like this planned? The last time I had seen him was on the doorstep, I had zipped up his raincoat to the usual protests of “Mu-um” but he hadn’t stopped me. I’d checked his bag for his P.E kit and lunch bag. All was as normal, and like normal, he leant down, kissed the top of my head, said “Love you mum” and gone. There was nothing to indicate that he had planned this.
I rang Hubby. “You’ve got to come home. You must come home. Oh my God. What am I going to do? Where is he?” Hubby attempted to remain clam but even he was shaken. Neither of us could get our son on his mobile phone. It was agonizing.
Of course the time was slipping by and I had to go and get a car full of small children from infant school.
Sobbing in the queue as I waited for them to run out, I again racked my brains for signs that my son was unhappy. Suddenly, on trying his mobile phone again it rang and he answered. “Hi mum”, he said, nonchalantly, “Don’t worry I’m alright”.
The expression ‘spitting feathers’ was coined for such an occasion and, what with crying and swearing and scolding and relief, my son couldn’t quite catch what I said but was under no doubt of the general content.
“Where the hell are you?” I said, finally.
“Er, Taunton”.
“Well bloody well come home. Just come home.” I then rang Hubby, who minutes later rang me back.
“Ok”, he said slowly, “He got to school this morning. His buddy had had a catastrophic falling out with one his family. He wanted to run away and our son and heir, in his infinite wisdom, thought it best to keep him company.”
“Oh thank God. So he didn’t go just to get out of Physics then?”
“No”.
“It is an errand of mercy?”
“Well, he’ll be begging for mercy when I get hold of him”.
“He mentioned Taunton. They should be home within a couple of hours”.
“Alice”. There was a pause as Hubby obviously garnered his thoughts.
“They may have passed Taunton a while ago but they are on a National Express coach heading for London and his phone is out of battery”.
Five children were now rampaging around the back of my car. In a daze I got out, strapped them all in and drove away.
It was unbelievable. My 14 year old son, in a school uniform was headed for London. It was this knowledge that gave me some comfort. It must have been a spontaneous decision as there is no way he would have gone to London without his attire having been closely scrutinised and his Dolce and Gabana belt wrapped around his waist. Within hours though he could be picked up by God knows whom and be working as a rent boy before you could say Pet Shop Boys. I felt sick. There was no way to contact him. I pulled the car over in a lay-by and called National Express. Trust my luck to find the only suicidal member of staff. I explained what had happened and could she inform the driver so that he could keep an eye on them until my husband arrived in Victoria.
“Oh that’s really good of your son. How sweet. No-one would do that for me.” I really didn’t have the time to counsel a depressed tele-sales girl who ultimately advised me to ring the police.
A good friend of ours is a sergeant and seconds after me calling him, he had it all sorted. The Metropolitan Police were going to meet the boys off the coach and wait with them. In the meantime I spoke to the other boy’s mother who was also demented and to her son, who had now also turned on his phone.
Hubby meanwhile was negotiating the A3 and attempting to unearth the entrance to Victoria coach station. His mood was not one of high spirits and, on receiving them from the Met, drove my son and his friend home in frosty silence. It goes without saying that he is penitent and shamefaced yet, regardless, all extra curricular activities have been suspended. His computer has been confiscated and his social life curtailed.His friend is happier. Sometimes, however ill-conceived, a grand gesture is the only way.

14 comments:

Sally Lomax said...

OMG Alice! What a nightmare. Walking home/ hitchhiking from Gloucester doesn't compare........ same age though. Same Colgate ring of confidence which makes them believe that they are completely invincible. Worrying!

Flowerpot said...

My God you poor thing - I would have been out of my mind. Thank God he's safe again.

Yvonne said...

Alice, why didn't you call I could have got to Victoria quicker than hubby and got them back to my house - I would say another time but hopefully there will never be another time!!

Alice Band said...

Sally - Hopefully it's the confidence that will keep them safe. At least our kids aren't feeble!
Flowerpot - I was truly mental. Luckily it was a happy ending.
Yvonne- I didn't have time to think. Please tell me there will be no 'next time'. Son and heir desperate to go to London and meet his friends. All girls of course!

Lisa said...

As my oldest is merely 8, I can't imagine.
My stomach dropped as I read on.
A good friend is great to have,too bad we don't really get some common sense until we're much older (well, some of us, anyway!)

ChrisB said...

Hi I just dropped by via enidd thought I might just help swell your comments!!

sally's hubby said...

We had another scare last night when our 14-y-o son didn't arrive home from Air Cadets. It finishes at 9:30, and he was being dropped home by one of the (uniformed) staff, who has to pass our front door on the way home. 10:30 came and went with no sign. No joy with anyone's mobile phones. I set off into the night, doing the reverse of the seven-mile journey which he would have been doing, expecting to come upon a pile of tangled wreckage at every turn.

Turned out the staff had decided to go for a drink, and took him along too.

Military types!

la cubana gringa said...

I rarely skipped school when I was a teenager, but when I did, I'm sure it caused my Mamacusa just as much grief. She always said I'd understand it all when I had kids. This might explain why I don't have kids yet. :)

Alice Band said...

Hello Chrisb and La Cubana Gringa - Your names are so familiar it is lovely to have you on my blog! Stick around!
Sally's Hubby - Honest to God you think someone might have rung just to give you the heads up that they were in the pub - hell at the very least you could have joined them!

Yvonne said...

Alice send him on up to Surrey at some time during the holiday and I will take a couple of days out and take him up to London to meet his "girls" - either end of Summer or next half term perhaps. x

Broker said...

Gosh, it sounds like you are having a time of it. I imagine France is a distant memory away. Thank goodness for the Met.

Alice Band said...

Thanks Yvonne. That may well work out for the best.
Broker - Very nice of you to visit. Yep we are having a time of it but i still have my lone, sultry weekend to look forward to.

headless chicken said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
headless chicken said...

Sorry...don't quite know how I deleted my comment so will start again!
What a scare for you!
This is exactly the sort of thing my 16 year old Son would do....the worlds most loyal best mate but forgets about his old Mum!
So glad everything turned out OK and hope your Son doesn't hate you too much for his lack of computer and social life!!!