Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Children, lost and found

Most of the time, when you have children who have left the nest, you don't focus as minutely on their whereabouts as you did when they were under your wing.

But sometimes, if you're like me, you are seized by the need to track them down out there in the big bad world. And if you fail, panic can quickly set in.

Here's an example from Saturday and Sunday.

On Saturday, I couldn't find Katie at college, and it was getting late.

Did all the usual: Text, call and snoop (on Facebook). Rational Mom figures she's out and about; panicked Mom imagines disaster.

This is how my mother behaved before there were even methods like texting and snooping on the Internet. If she couldn't find me, she called neighbors, relatives and friends. Our communication "gap" wasn't even very long, and when she finally "found" me, I was annoyed.

The panic is like that of having a young child who disappears behind a clothing rack at a store or who is simply not in your direct vision for even a second at any crowded place. One time when we were with my parents at a museum, Ben was right behind my mother, but she thought he had vanished, and she shouted for him at the top of her lungs.

Figuratively, I was shouting for Katie.

I called Joe, thinking he might have heard from her or seen something on Facebook. Joe always answers, either through text or voice. No response. (Duh, it was Saturday night.)
This caused a mini-pileup in my brain.

At 11:37 p.m., Katie texted that had been out and didn't have her cell phone. I called her and said now I couldn't find Joe. "Mom, he's a college senior, leave him alone!" she said.

Right.

The next morning he texted to say he was sorry, his phone had died.

I had located two, but the next day I "lost" the third. Ben had come home to run the St. Patrick's Race with some friends from high school. He had hardly trained, running a mile or so here and there, and I had told him he was crazy to tackle the hilly 10-K. He replied that he probably wouldn't do well, but he would do it.

I wanted to cheer him on like he had cheered me on when I ran the race, so I told him I'd watch for him along the last stretch near the finish line and to look for me in the crowd afterwards. I got there 20 minutes before his estimated time and waited...and waited and waited...probably another half an hour until it looked like the last runner out of the field of 6,000 came hobbling in.

I searched the crowds, and no Ben. Rational me: I missed him and now he's gone off with his friends. Crazy me: He collapsed. You read about 25-year-olds having heart attacks, and it could have happened to him.

So I went home, and some time later he came in, all happy and carrying a green bottle of beer. He had done way better than he expected and had apparently crossed the finish line two minutes before I found my place, probably when I was trying to get through the crowd. (I won't publish his time, because it's his business, but it was really good for someone who hadn't trained.) Also, he had come in on the left side, and I was on the right.

He had looked for me but figured I had gone home...and the celebration beckoned. Arrrrrrggggghhhh!

One minute, three children, in terrible trouble.
Next minute, three children, safe and sound.

The worry never ends.

19 comments:

pam said...

Dearest Runder-Gordon, Ever-Mom,

As your Uncle Bill would say, it is the Worry-Gene, but greater than that, 'tis the Mother-gene...
the Worry and the Wonder...
what great children you have...so sensible...
so caring, and so sane...

and, by the by, it is Mother, to worry...

Anonymous said...

Hi my name is Britt, I am a student for Mrs. Chipkin. She asked us to respond to one of your blogs. My mom does the same thing that you did. She worries and expects me to respond right away. It has become better since the beginning of college though. I tell her not to worry because I am okay. You don't have to worry either I'm sure your kids are doing fine.

Anonymous said...

Hello I am a freshman in Professor Robbins-Chipkin's class. We have been reading your blog for a few classes. This most recent blog I could see my parents acting in a similiar way. More about my sister than with me. I can understand the worry because not knowing where your family is can be a frightening time ecspecially in the world today.

Anonymous said...

I'be been reading your blog in Professor Robbins-Chipkin's class. I'm a freshman at Springfield College and after reading this post it made me laugh. My parents used to get worried like you were all the time, but that was mostly throughout high school. Now I'm in college and they've seemed to back off a bit which might have lessened the worry, but who really knows. Even when I go home for a break they don't seem to be as worried and I always come home safely. To be honest, I don't even pay attention to my phone that much while I'm out, so I bet if my mom texted me.. her stress level would probably go through the roof!

Dalton said...

My mom was the same way until I convinced her to relax and that her little boy is finally a man who is as responsible as she taught me to be.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm Sarah, a student in Carol Robbins-Chipkin's college writing class. We have been reading your blog in class and youre writing is great! Interestingly enough I understand how you feel, except it's my mom! Of course she contacts me about every night and I usually respond within about 20 minutes, but when I try to contact her she doesn't respond till the next day sometimes and I end up worried or calling her! I think it's always best to make sure everyone is safe instead of assuming everything is ok!

Anonymous said...

Hello, My name is Mike Giordano I am from PRofessor Robbins-Chipkins i found your piece about your sons and daughter to be extremely entertaining. I feel like my mom is the same way as you, you just need to lighten up and let her be without worrying. I always tell my mom if there is a problem I would call her, ussually my phone just dies thats why I don't call her back. Im sure your children are all going to be ok. Don't worry so much about them, they are mature enough to handle it on their own! but a little bit of texting won't hurt them everyonce in a while. Your blogs are extremely entertaining keep it up!

Anonymous said...

MS. Gordon my name is Zachary Hartshorn and I am a student at Springifeld College. Your blog reminded me very much of the experiences i have had with my own mother. It was quite fun relating stories from my past to the experiences you have had and the different view point similar to what my mom might have been feeling.

Anonymous said...

Prof. Robbins-Chipkin had our class pick a blog post to read about. I read the story about Katie and I can easily relate to her. I have some advice that you can consider using. You and her can setup a time around her schedule to catch up. You could choose something like once a day or three times a week. Or even just the weekends, but I would have her choose the times so she feels more in control and not pushed into it.

Ann said...

My own mother used to call at 3 in the morning to be sure I was in my dorm room my freshman year of college. When I'd come home for a visit, she'd be on top of me. Once, when I was standing outside of a local pub talking to friends, I saw her car slowly cruising down the street. She'd made my poor dad drive her around in order to check up on me. I was never a wild child and could be counted on to check in. I suppose maternal worry is inherent.

PJ said...

Now you're being taught in school! Glad you found all your kids. Don't feel bad; we all experience this kind of technology-exacerbated anxiety.

Anonymous said...

i am a freshmen at springfield college in professor chipkin's english class. she asked us to respond to one of your blogs. My mom reacts teh same way if i do not answer my phone when seh calls or texts me. she ahs even gone as far as texting my roommate to make sure i am okay. usually the reason why i dont answer is simply because im in class or at lunch. Also if i do not call her at least once a day she will text me that night and let me know that she i mad that i didn't check in with her. So you are not the only one taht worries about their kids when they go off to school.

Anonymous said...

Hi my name is Taylor i am a student in Mrs. Chipkin's class at springfield college. What you did was completely natural my mom would have done the same. When i was still in high school she would not go to sleep until i had walked in the door after a night out. Needless to say with a flexible curfew my father liked to lay down she spent some nights on the couch untill 1 a.m. As much as we may let on that it annoys us it also shows us you care and makes us feel good. It nice to know there is always someone who will miss you and worries when you are gone it makes us feel like we realy belong. So don't stop worrying it shows you care!

Anonymous said...

Dear Ronni,
As a student for Mrs. Chipkin, I can relate to your post about the children lost and found. I have somewhat of an understanding of what you were going through because I put my parents through a scary situation. It was 3am and I wasn't in my bed. You can imagine the panic as a parent and I quickly learned the worry I put my parents through. Parents will always worry about their children, it's their job. Keep up the good work.
Peace and Blessings.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I am a student in Mrs. Chipkin-Robbins class and I have enjoyed reading your blogs. You can gone through so much and are truely and inspiration to all. This entry was funny and reminded me alot about my mom when she can't "find" me or my brothers.

Anonymous said...

Hi my name is Tim and I am a student in Professor Chipkin's class. Reading this blog reminded me a lot about my mother and her worries, she has gotten into the texting game and likes to communicate with me there. Whenever she can't get ahold of me, naturally she panics, like any mother should do. Don't feel like you are being too overprotective.

Anonymous said...

Hi my name is Diana and I am a student in Ms. Chipkin's english class. This blog really hit home for me.. my mother does the same thing and it made me laugh hearing you explain your process also. I'm glad you found your kids safe and sound!

Samantha said...

Hi my name is Samantha and I am a freshman in Professor Robbins-Chipkins class and she asked us to read and respond to your blog. I can relate to your kids on this one, my parents still do the same thing. When I'm home, anytime I get in my car I have to call them and tell them where I'm going and once I arrive I have to call them and tell them I am safe. I know that it's because I am their only child, sometimes it gets annoying but I know they just worry. Being a freshman in college we don't talk as much but if they don't hear from me once a week they will call. Reading your blog made me realize that it isn't just my parents that do this, but most parents do!

Anonymous said...

Hi my name is Jonathan and I am a student of Professor Robbins-Chipkin. She's had us read your blog a few times. I'm positive that my parents have experiences similar to you in terms of worrying about their children. Now that I'm in college though they have backed off a lot because I think that they realized that it was time for me to start worrying about myself and to grow up. However, concern for loved ones is never a bed thing!