Every parent has an equivalent story. Most of them have happy endings, but it’s the ones that don’t have the happy endings that play and replay on the neuroses cinema in your brain. You turn your back in a crowd and when you turn back around, your child isn’t there. Your child asks to wait in the car while you run into the store, and when you get back, you don’t see their silhouette through the window. Your child says they are going to ride their bike (or in this case, scooter) on the street for awhile, but when you look out the window for them, you can’t see them. For 20 minutes. Then 40 minutes. Then crazy minutes -because the minutes are now exponentially spiraling out of control so much so that you scream to your 16 year old that you’re going out to look for her brother. You look for him on foot, but don’t see him anywhere, so you get into the car, spin it around, palms sweaty, seatbelt alarm ringing like a church bell while you tear down the road and ask the ladies walking their dogs if they’ve seen him, but they haven’t. So you turn around, praying he isn’t roadkill somewhere. You go up the other way, much further than you imagine he would ever take his scooter, but he isn’t there. He isn’t there. So you circle the road. Then you go back home, call his father at work and tell him his son is missing, you haven’t seen him for over an hour and you’re going to call the police. The polite dispatcher at 911 takes your information and for once, you’re happy you lost the battle with your kid to take off his soccer uniform and you’re able to tell the man that you think he is “even wearing his shinguards” as if this magical observation would save him from the cement truck or bogeyman or pedophile who has surely got your child by now because where is he? Where? Is? He? Not in the barn. Or the yard. Or the woods. Or the middle-of-renovations-apartment. He is nowhere. He is everywhere. He is all consuming. And how will you explain how you let him out of your sight on just a scooter, just a scooter to defend himself, to keep him safe from harm, to get away. How will you explain how you weren’t running alongside him for the past hour and a half, monitoring his movements? How how how…and the ladies with the dogs come back around again asking you to call them and tell them when you find him. But you don’t even know their names, the ladies who live down the end of your own street. And you certainly don’t have their phone number if you don’t know their names. But you agree to call them. You would agree to give them all of your internal organs if he would just reappear. Unscathed. And just then, a little boy rounds the corner on his bike and the ladies say,”Is that him?” (see, they don’t know you and your family any more than you know them, beyond a nod and a wave, they would not recognize you in a police line up, you are all guilty of this neighborly distance, which somehow makes it more terrifying) But it is not him and you choke down a sob that threatens to escape. Until after another thirty seconds, it IS him and he is there. And he is in one piece. And he has no idea why you’ve snatched him off of his scooter and into your arms where his sweat and breath are the most precious things you’ve ever felt. You cry in earnest now and can’t quite manage the words on the phone to tell his father he is safe, but he understands anyway. You go inside and try to explain yourself to your son, who looks bewildered and apologizes for leaving the streets you thought he was on, he apologizes for scaring you and now you have scared him. And you know you are the luckiest craziest mother on the planet right now because your nightmares were just phantoms to be washed away before dinner. You thank your lucky stars and your deity and the universe itself for this reminder of the preciousness of life and love.