Tuesday, March 24, 2015


As I mentioned in my last blog post, my family has experienced some growing pains as I have gone back to work.  The kids are adjusting.......more or less.  We have asked the kids to step up and take responsibility in a few ways.  First, do your chores.  Second, you need to be organized so you don’t forget what you need to have at school.  Third, you need to get out of the house on time for school.  

Bob and I have outlined chores for each kid every day.  I can count on one hand the number of times they have fulfilled their full obligation of chores without being told.  Basically, the cat is away….you get the picture.  

The kids have been pretty good about remembering their stuff for school.  Coulter has only forgotten a couple times.  In the past, I brought things to school for the kids at least once or twice per week.

The kids all get out of the house on time for school.  Kees is a champ.  At 7:57 he runs out the door, shoes on and backpack ready.  Sophia leaves around 8:15.  She walks over to a friend’s house and then on to school from there.  I usually leave then too.  I’ve been riding my bike to work so that gets me to the office just after 8:30.  This leaves Coulter at home alone.  He leaves just after I do to get to school at 8:45.  I make sure that he’s totally ready before I leave.  I say, “Coulter, you need to leave in 10 minutes.”  To which he replies, “I know mom.”  Coulter has a tendency to, let’s say, forget things and loose track of time.  

Two weeks ago today I received a robo call from the school saying, “A student in your household was marked absent.  Please contact the school.”  I thought that was weird but sometimes they make a mistake.  I called the school and they said it was Coulter that was marked absent.  Hmmm…. I had them call up to his classroom to confirm.  The secretary called back, “He isn’t in his classroom and they haven't seen him today.”  

I panicked a little bit and called home.  No answer.  Luckily, I had driven this particular day.  I stood up and announced, “My son is missing, I have to leave.”  Everyone agreed this was what I needed to do.  I went straight home calling the whole time.  I called Bob and told him what was happening and told him to meet me at home.  Perhaps Coulter was at home afraid to answer for fear of getting in trouble? 

When I got home I ran into the house. “Coulter, COULTER!!!! Where are you?”  I searched the whole house as fast as I could.  Maybe he was hiding?  I begged him to come out.  “COUTLER, PLEASE, I’M TERRIFIED!”  Maybe he’s at the library.  It’s his “Go to” spot.  I drove to the library.  It was closed.  He wasn’t in the coffee shop next door either.  Now I’m really scared.  I called 911.  “5’2”. 105 lbs. Blond, with a rat tail. About a foot long. I don’t know what he was wearing.  No, he’s never gone missing before.”  I am trying to be brave but my son is missing and he’s been gone for three hours.  I am as afraid as I have ever been.  I can't breathe... in out, breathe Heather.  I can’t describe how that feels and I hope others never have to go through that.  

I call the school to let them know that I reported Coulter missing and the police are on the way to take a report.  The secretary tells me, “He just walked through the door.”  I say, “Call him down for me.  I will be right there.”  Coulter needs to explain himself and he needs to see how upset and frightened I am.  I get in the car and go to the school.  I call Bob and tell him to meet me at the school. 

I see Coulter and tell him to come with me into the Principal’s Office.  I try to convey how upset I am but of course, he’s an eleven-year-old boy.  He doesn’t get it.  I let him see my tears and makeup all over my face.  He has no excuse.   He claims he fell asleep.  It was two days after Day Light Savings Time kicked in.  I suppose he could be tired.  He says my phone call woke him up and that’s when he realized he was late.  Really?  Three hours?  He’s sticking with his story.  

Bob comes and tries to convey his angst.  Then the school councilor comes in.  We all try to explain to him that his actions have terrified us all.  I tell him how precious he is to me and that this can’t happen ever again.  He apologizes but still, there is no way he can understand the feeling a parent has when a child is missing.  Eventually we all calm down.  Coulter missed lunch so Bob and I take him to get a quick something.  We’re all exhausted and hungry.  

We eat and talk.  Coulter finally apologizes without sounding like we’re being over reactive jerks.  We take him back to school and Bob and I go back to work.  I am exhausted.  Seriously, it’s crazy what something like that takes out of you.  

Later at home, Coulter apologizes about five more times.  He seems to have heard us.  

But….  A week later, I get the robo call again.  I call the school but this time they report that he showed up at almost 10.  He was more than an hour late! He reported to the school secretary that I knew he was late.  Ahh…no I didn’t.  I ask to talk to him and she puts me through.  I tell him that he is in big trouble.  I wanted him to ponder that all day.  

When we all get home Bob and I sit him down again.  We go through the whole thing again.  I can’t believe he did it AGAIN!  We take away his electronics for two weeks, no iPad, no computer, no TV, no nothing.  Of course this is almost more punishing to us than it is to him but there isn't much that means anything to him.  The only thing that would break his heart is if we took his books....but I don't want to break his heart, I love him.  I want him to be safe, I want him to thrive, I want him to follow the rules.  

I ask him why he has done this.  He says, "I don't know."

Me, "Coulter, there must be a reason." 

Coulter, "School is boring." 

Me, "Well too bad, school isn't an option." 

Coulter, "I just didn't want to go."

We go back and forth and it's nothing specific at school.  No bullying or anything and then it hits me. 
Me, "Coulter, is it the quiet and being alone you like?"

Coulter, "Yeah. (He starts to cry.) I never get to have quiet time alone."  And it's true.  Kees is always right there.  It's sort of his job as the little brother.  

I try to impress upon him the importance of going to school.  I have to know he's safe and if he doesn't go to school I don't know if he's safe or not.  I also tell him,  "Not going to school is illegal.  It's called truancy."  Maybe that will do it.  Again, he seems to understand and I tell him we'll work on getting him some alone time.  That seemed to help him. I also told him that his part of supporting our family was to go to school, to follow the rules and to do his chores.  I tried to impart that it was his responsibility and it was how he could support me in my new job but mostly I want him safe.  

So we'll see how things go from here on out.  I want him safe and I don't want to break his heart.  He's a lovely boy who made a couple of bad choices.  I hope he knows how much I love him.  I'll continue to tell him and check in with him.  Eleven is such a weird age and difficult to know how best to handle these things.  I am doing my best.   

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