18: Yanking Him Back Into the Nest

With an upset stomach, I woke up around 1 am. Went in to school at 7:15, but by 8:00 a substitute was on her way.  Could it have been the egg rolls? Could it be the flu?  Or is it just stress? I guess it doesn’t matter, but what does matter is I learned something today.

    Being home all day meant that I could pick K up from school. Before heading into the parking lot, I squeezed in 3 stops: drugstore to purchase “upset stomach” medicine, gas station to fill up for tomorrow’s drive, and the car wash.
     Luckily, I had that medicine in the car because when K hopped in the car he asked if we could go to the fast food restaurant next to school.  I took a swig of my pink medicine, and we headed into the student-packed restaurant.

     The place was buzzing with kids celebrating the beginning of the weekend.  K and his fellow 5th grade friends were the youngest of the school kids, while most were in 7th and 8th grade.  I was so pleased and impressed by several of my boys’ friends who came over to my little table by the door, “Hey, Mrs. S.” I spoke with a few of these sweet kids about visiting M the next day. 
     Then an older boy in a red shirt, holding a skateboard entered the restaurant near my table.  Lots of boys started crowding around this kid.  I couldn’t hear everything, but I did hear the kid in the red shirt say, “If you guys want some, I can get them today.”  A few minutes later, he took off on his skateboard.  The school kids returned to their table again.
     They were clustered around a table and now clumps of boys from a nearby table were spilling over and mixing with the other table.  Some of the boys were shoved against the windows, just being silly.  Then something caught my eye; a boy just 6 feet away from me had a switch blade. (Honestly, I don’t know if that’s what it would be called but it was a blade, and it did flip out from a hinge.  It was about 3-4 inches long.) They didn’t even seem to notice that I was in there.  The boy who must have had that knife in his backpack tried to get the kid to put it away, “Put that away; it’s illegal.”
     By this point, my head hurt more than my stomach.  Perhaps that knife was in his backpack because he went on a campout last weekend, and he just forgot to take it out of his bag?  Certainly, he meant no harm with it.  And perhaps that boy on the skateboard was just going to go pick up something more innocent than my “red alert” mind imagined.
      I left not knowing the answers to those questions, but I did do something before exiting.  I approached a restaurant employee and asked if the boy in red (yes, he did return) is someone she sees in the restaurant a lot after school.  She listened to my paranoid questioning; she didn’t recognize him, but she hadn’t worked there long either.
     My plan is to return next Friday, same time, same seat. M liked to hang out there when he was in 8th grade, and now I wish I hadn’t let him “spread his wings” so often. 
     I know, I know.  We can’t control everything as they grow up, but maybe M wasn’t ready for me to let him out of the nest so early.  For some reason, some kids seem to be prepared at earlier ages for obstacles that come their way.
     We’ve yanked him back to the nest for good reason.  He wasn’t ready to make important decisions on his own yet, and I hadn’t realized how close danger was lurking.

Now I’m ready to visit him tomorrow.

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