“He’s late. He’s never been this late before. What if he’s been kidnapped?” I fretted as I paced the living room.
“He’s fine,” Tom replied from the computer. He didn’t even seem alarmed that his son and heir could be MISSING.
“He’s usually home by now,” I insisted, twisting my fingers nervously. I kept glancing out the window for him. He walks home because the school isn’t far away. We also live on base so it’s safer. If we lived off base, I’m not sure if he’d be walking by himself. The world has gotten insane.
“Maybe he’s talking with friends,” Tom suggested as he blasted bad guys on his video game.
“Tommy doesn’t talk to people,” I explained. It’s true. He’s quiet at school. Kids will ask me, “Why doesn’t Tommy like to talk?” It’s because he struggles with being social. He’s worried people will laugh at him. He’ll say a few words to some girls, because girls are nicer to him, but his mouth stays clamped shut when he’s around the boys.
“Maybe he started. He’s getting older,” Tom said. “Dammit!” he shouted and for a second I thought he finally computed the fact that his son was MISSING. But no, he was just upset that he died in the game.
“If he’s not back in ten minutes, I’m going to that school and pulling a Shirley MacClaine from Terms of Endearment,” I warned.
“Would you calm down?” Tom suggested, starting a new game.
I settled on the couch and started chewing my fingernails. Then I got back up and peered out the window. No Tommy. I sat back down. Chewed on my fingernails some more. Stood back up.
I was really freaking our cat out. He shot me a dirty look that clearly said, “Stay still. Damn.”
“What if some bullies got a hold of him?” I said.
“Amber,” Tom answered with a sigh.
“Bullies are running rampant these days. Parents don’t want to admit they have a bully so the situation is rarely fixed. Mark my words, if a bully is messing with Tommy I will take the kid by the ear and drag him home.”
Tom wasn’t even paying attention to me at that point.
WHERE WAS MY SON THOUGH? I sort of wanted to shout it like Mel Gibson did in that one movie.
I chewed my lower lip to the point where I tasted blood. That was it, I was going to the school. I’d demand to know—
Then I spotted Tommy walking down the sidewalk, all casual like.
Oh no, what if he got detention? He’s never had detention before. He’s always appalled when kids don’t listen to the teacher. What if he finally snapped and told the teacher that math was awful and that he refused to do it anymore?
I opened the front door and practically ran over to him.
“Huh?” he said, surprised. In his hands he grasped some paper.
“What happened? Are you okay?” I searched him over for bruises.
“Yes.” He stared at me like I was insane and held up the papers. “I stayed for the track meeting. Remember I said I wanted to do track?”
Oh. Right. He had said that. Tommy hates other sports. I tried to sign him up for t-ball and he had meltdown after meltdown. He couldn’t even hit the ball on the stand. He’d watch other kids effortlessly hit the ball and he would struggle again and again.
He doesn’t like football. That’s why he doesn’t get along with a lot of boys. Most love football and want to talk about it. Tommy’s eyes glaze over.
So when he had mentioned track, I wasn’t sure if he was really going to do it. Some people suggest that I make him join groups but that doesn’t work for Tommy.
The papers were permission slips to join the track team. And I had to sign something in case he got a concussion. ?!
“And I was running,” I said in a Forrest Gump impression as I signed the papers.
“What?” Tommy raised an eyebrow at me.
“Nothing. It’s from a movie. You’ll watch it someday. You’ll like it. If someone ever shouts at you ‘Run, Tommy, Run’ it’s from that movie,” I explained.
“There’s a character named Tommy in that movie?” Tommy wanted to know.
“No. His name is Forrest.”
“Nevermind then. But Tommy, this is great. You want to run.”
“You can also throw stuff and do hurdles,” Tommy said. “I think I just want to do the mile.”
When they have to run the mile in gym, he’s one of the only kids who runs the whole time. I did the same as a kid. I was a pretty good runner. My best time was 658 or something like that. Maybe I should have joined the track team. But I wasn’t much of a social person either. I did do cross country in high school but I hated being on a team. I wanted to run for myself.
I hope Tommy has fun in track. I’m very proud that he was responsible enough to go to the meeting. I didn’t even have to remind him. Mainly because I didn’t know about it.
It means he’s growing up.