I think that most of my gray hairs have come in sudden bursts, like Rogue in X-Men, rather than singly. I probably got a whole lot more in the past fifteen minutes.
The neighbors up the street have three boys, ages 4, 6 and 10... just the perfect age for Isaac to play with this summer. And he has definitely been playing with them; they're a big reason he learned to ride a bike, and they've all just done great. Their parents are strict, like us, so it's a good fit.
After supper tonight, I told Isaac he could go back up to their house to play a while, and he happily hopped onto his bicycle and sped up the sidewalk.
About an hour later, one of the other boys showed up at the door. "Isaac left his bike at our house," he said.
"He's AT your house, buddy-boy," I laughed, and sent him back home. They don't always play in a big group, so I figured it was a case of one brother not knowing what the other brother was doing.
After another hour, another one of the brothers knocked on our door. "Isaac left his bike at our house," he said.
"I thought he was still at your house," I said. He shook his head no.
In that moment, every one of my internal organs became ice water. I put on my sandals and dashed up the street, visions of some freak in a van grabbing my son off his bicycle and speeding away unseen. Please, God, not my baby boy. The panic I felt in that moment was a sensation I've only had a few times in my years of motherhood, but it's the kind of ultimate panic that keeps me awake at night for weeks afterward.
I went to the boys' house and knocked on their door. No-one answered the front door, so I went around the back. Another brother was in the backyard. "Is Isaac here?" I asked him.
"No," he said.
"Would you go inside and ask your dad if I can talk to him," I said. He scooted indoors. I felt my heart pounding and knew my BP had probably spiked upwards. After what seemed like another hour, he popped his head back outside. "Isaac's in the attic," he informed me. My lungs begin to refill, and my fists slowly unclench. Isaac comes out the door. "Whatcha want, Mom?"
I'm trying to disguise the tremble in my voice. "I need you to come home now," I said.
"Okay," he said cheerfully. He hopped on his bicycle and began to pedal madly, whooping as he cruised down the sidewalk toward home.
I think my pulse rate will eventually go back down.