Yesterday afternoon, I get a phone call from Damien’s school- a very irate Afrikaans teacher- informing me that Damien and a buddy bunked the last two or three school periods. She said Damien must now make a plan to get the work he missed and catch up. I thanked her for calling and hung up.
About an hour later I went to fetch Damien. I arrived at the school maybe 5 minutes after the final bell had rung.
No Damien in sight.
I try his cell- voicemail.
Okay, he’s only ten minutes late, I can wait.
I wait a little longer, get out and stand next to the car- still can’t see him in the throng of parents, cars and kids.
I wait another five minutes and head onto the school grounds looking for him.
I stop at the office where he had been after being caught bunking and ask the remaining receptionist if he’s maybe still in the office somewhere. Nope she says- they were there till the final bell and then he left.
I’m walking the school again- I call Damien’s buddy (the one who bunked class with him) to ask if maybe Damien went home with him. “Nope.” says the buddy “he went out the main gate.”
I drive from one gate to the other and back again.
I phone the colleague with whom I share lifts occasionally- she also said no, she hadn’t seen him.
I drive up to the nearby café where the kids occasionally buy sweets or lunch.
Lots of kids, no Damien.
I drive back to the school, walk around again, phone the cell- still off.
I ask some kids waiting at the gate if anyone knows where Damien is. They all say no, haven’t seen him.
I get back in my car and drive from the side gate- where I usually wait- back to the main gate with the intention of driving around the block.
This is almost an hour since the final bell rang.
Now understand- I am now THIS CLOSE to calling the cops, the fire brigade, my mom, the vet, my boss…
And you all know how paranoid I am!
There he is- sauntering down the street with a few friends. Clearly he had not been on the school grounds at all.
I stop; he gets in the car; and not only is he as white as a sheet but he smells of smoke.
He even tried to deny it.
I was furious.
Not only was I now angry about his having bunked class, now he had made me frantic with having to look for him as well.
After we calmed down, we spoke about it and he said sorry.
Then I said I thought it would be a good idea for him to see his shrink more regularly.
The shrink agrees- we’ll be starting with once a month visits and we’ll see how it goes.
There Is Never An Excuse
One in three is not a statistic - one in three is a crying shame.