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As a child, were you ever left behind somewhere? Unfortunately, my oldest daughter was.

When she was in the 1st grade, I would drive from my office every afternoon and meet her across the street from her school. I’d park where all the other neighborhood moms parked, wait for the bell, stand on the corner until I spotted her, where I would then usher her into the car, and we’d go back to my office where she would sit quietly and color.

That was our routine.

Except for one very terrifying day.

On this day, about 2 miles from the road to her school, I got stuck in traffic. I groaned, as one usually does when your travels come to a grinding halt. So I sat, and waited. But this traffic? It wasn’t moving.

I nervously began to glance at the clock. The bell was going to ring in 20 minutes. Surely I’d be out of this by then, right? Every minute that ticked by added to my panic. 15 minutes left and I was nowhere close. I’d only moved about 50 yards.

You have to understand something. This was 2001. I had no cell phone. There was no calling the school or texting a friend. There was no where to stop and call, because the road I was on was nothing but woods on either side. There was no shoulder I could ride on. And even worse, there was no other way to get to the school. I was stuck.

10 minutes left until the bell. I sat there wondering why my Mercury Sable wagon couldn’t just rise up in the air and fly over all these cars that were keeping me from picking up my child. Why hadn’t anyone invented that yet?

By the time the bell was ringing and my small, 6 year old daughter was being dismissed from school, I was about 20 yards from the turn off to her school, where I then had to drive a few miles through a residential neighborhood. I cannot describe to you my level of impatience and hysteria as I inched along towards the intersection.

I finally got to the intersection, made my turn and hit the accelerator to try and get to my daughter before all the children thinned out and she realized she was alone.

And then the old lady turned out of her driveway. And proceeded to travel at the very safe speed of 20 mph.

I just about blew a gasket. I sat behind the wheel, unable to safely pass her and just screamed. The traffic was bad enough, but this new obstacle in my path was life giving me a big, huge wedgie.

By the time I got to the school, my little blonde baby was standing on the corner, completely alone, with the exception of a very kind crossing guard who waited with her. All the kids were gone, all the moms were gone. And this kind woman stayed behind in the hot sun to see that my girl was safe.

I cried when I reached her. I was so worried about what might be going through her mind – confused and in doubt as to why our routine had suddenly changed. Wondering, “Where is Mommy?”

I profusely thanked the crossing guard, explaining about the traffic jam as I picked up my girl and held her close. I was exhausted, but grateful that although life put me through the wringer that afternoon, some other force of nature sent my daughter a protector.

I had a cell phone by the end of the month. I also had a talk with my daughter, explaining to not worry if this ever happens again. Mommy is always coming.

Always.

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