This narrative is lengthy. I hope you are prepared for this. Grab your popcorn if you feel like it.
It was the day Courageous Caitie passed away when it happened. Almost all the people in my Facebook feed were grieving, mourning and were left inspired by her story. Her parents' loss became other people's source of hope. I thought, God must have given that kind of trial to Caitie's parents because He knows they can handle it gracefully, faithfully.
It was a different story for another mom, though, who tried to keep her poise but failed. She arrived in her daughter's school to pick her up and learned that she was not there. No one knew where she went. It's inevitable for that mom to be worried. In fact, I asked my Facebook friends - What do you think will be your reaction when you find out your kid was not where you left her? 6 out of 7 respondents said they will panic, will feel nervous and jokingly said will do a Sisa scene.
That mom was me - I panicked, got really nervous, and almost did a Sisa scene.
"Anong klaseng eskwelahan kayo at hindi niyo alam kung nasaan ang estudyante niyo?"
"Pusa nga kapag nawala hinahanap, anak pa kaya?""Don't tell me to calm down."
I was a bit aware of my actions that I can still manage to sit and pray but it was one of the moments that I really cannot control my emotions.
So what really happened?
Since my daughter's 4th exams week, I was the one who brought and picked her up to and from school. She had a tricycle service the entire school year but the driver always failed to come early during exams week (their schedule was moved from 12nn to 7:45am) so I decided not to get his service anymore. After all, chill na lang naman their activities. And so just like the usual days since then, I picked her up with a trike. I would always ask the driver to wait for me so I won't have to wait for another trike to arrive that would bring us home. I usually would ask the bantay (not a uniformed security guard, fyi) to call Sophia. I asked the bantay for my daughter. He didn't lift his head as he was tinkering his phone, wearing earphones. The gate was opened - I let out a heavy sigh and personally looked for S. My eagle eyes searched the school grounds and looked for that bright-eyed and bushy-tailed child of mine. I was getting impatient. I didn't want to keep the trike driver waiting, baka magpadagdag ng bayad (wais na misis moves). So I asked the canteen staff if she happened to see S. She said maybe she was upstairs. She looked for her there and came down shaking her head. That was when I panicked. I asked the preschool teacher aid and she cheerfully told me "nandiyan lang yun, Mommy". My blood rushed fast to my head and the inevitable monologues were carelessly thrown out in the open loud enough for the kids in the playground to stop playing. And if you know how I speak, you know that it's very theatrical, very Broadway. Can you blame me? My child was nowhere in school where I left her.
I was at the gate when the teachers hurriedly approached me. None of them knew where S went. One teacher said, "baka po sinundo ni <service driver>". It was possible. But I felt more worried. Even if I don't want to think of the worst, naisip ko talaga. I have read an article pa naman before that those who are always in close contact with your children are those who can easily do harm to them. Kasi nga they already got their trust. I was so scared of that I have mumbled sh*t many times in front of the teachers. I was not sure if they heard me, though. So we called him to ensure if Sophia was with him. He was not answering his phone and not texting back. Imagine how I felt, just imagine.
The teachers were trying to calm me down, some were checking the CCTV records and the directress was asking me to go inside their office. I know it's because I have already made a scene a la telenovela. But I refused as I wanted to be the first person to talk to the service driver should he came to school.
Good 20 minutes has passed, the service driver finally texted me - "pauwi na kami 'te". So my child was with him! I still haven't calmed myself, though. I wanted to see S pronto. I went home praying nothing grave happened to my child. I dragged my pallid self to open the gate. S ran to me with tears in her eyes. My panic doubled. I hugged her really, really tight. When we got inside the house, I asked her what happened.
Sophia said when she saw the service driver's trike outside, because she wanted to go home immediately, she went with him. It could have been as simple as that if only the service driver informed me that my child was with him. Or if the bantay told me upon my arrival that S was picked up by the driver. I know that the person to blame here really was my child. She went with him even if I was the one who brought her to school. But well, I had to give it to her. She's 7, for goodness sake. And those men (the driver and the bantay) were even older than me. They could have prevented my Sisa scene if only they did what they should have done.
Speaking of what should have been done - the principal said that I should have informed them that we already cut our ties with the service driver. Thinking about it, technically, I didn't inform them that I hired him then so I didn't think of telling them of the service's discontinuance. Does it make sense? Anyway, when the teacher assigned in the office told me that the principal wanted to talk to me, I already knew that it was about the incident. I thought that she was going to apologize or something on behalf of the bantay since that terrifying moment happened in her school. I wouldn't be telling a lot about it but let me just say that I felt like a kid being reprimanded. She said that I shouldn't have posted about it on my social media accounts and a lot of my co-parents have seen me when I made a scene. For the record, I didn't rant on my social media channels about what happened on that day. This photo, if this is what she was pertaining to, was too cryptic. She said that she felt that I was trying to pull the school down. I was appalled as I have nothing to do with their business.
I just really wanted to share my story. I have shared many things about my daughter's school activities here, so why can't I share this? I know that apart from making kwento to my friends about the incident in one blow, a lot of parents can also learn a thing or two from this scary story. And what are they, you might ask?
- Inform the school, inform the school service driver, inform the teachers. Inform everyone who are in charge of taking care of your child when she is in school. You and the school are partners in raising your child.
- When getting a school for your child, one of the top priorities should be the security. Medyo nagdalawang isip na ako sa aspeto na yan but I thought that the bantay was enough. After this incident, I realized that a bantay (who is their jack-of-all-trades) is not enough. Anything can happen.
- When such situations arise, do not be quick to scold your child even if it's her fault. If you felt terrified, how much more a kid who came home and realized her mom was not there? She will open up everything to you if you are calm as you can be.
In case you are wondering if the service driver did any bad thing to her while she was gone, do not worry, she was unharmed. When the driver and I talked, I made him realize the hassle he had done. He agreed with everything I said as he is also a parent like me. I just didn't like that he mentioned that a certain Major's wife has started to get mad at him because he was not picking her up yet as he was still with my child. I was like, "wala akong pakielam sa asawa ng Major na yan". I felt that he did that so I would stop questioning him, as if matatakot ako or something. Like what I said on my Facebook status, only death and flying roaches can scare me (hehe).
For a similar incident, you may read this. For more tips, this article by Education World is very helpful.
Whew. That was a long read, I know! If you have questions, I will entertain those in the comments section. If you think that my reply will not be appropriate for the public to see, kindly email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Do you have kwento like this, too?