Well, if I've ever come close to living my worst nightmare it was today. Actually, just about two hours ago! Sal picks up the kids after school and brings them to me at my school. Although I love teaching where I teach, it is not the safest neighborhood. As a matter of fact, it probably has one of the highest drug dealers/users/etc. rates as well as registered sex offenders in the neighborhood. The crime rate is certainly nothing to write home about and the apartments right in our back yard has been home to several murders.....YES MURDERS!!!!! My classroom is in a portable which is not connected to the building. However, you walk out my door and go straight down the sidewalk about 25 steps and you are in the building RIGHT by the restrooms. Clarissa asked today at 4:25 if she could go to the restroom. I said yes, she always goes and comes right back.....no big deal! Right after she left, I went into the building to make copies. I returned at 4:45 and Jonathon said she had never returned. A little panic set in but not too bad because she also goes over to visit the Math teacher in the portable next to me so Jonathon ran over there to see if she was in there. I felt certain she was. I WAS WRONG!!!!! Fear, panic, pain, you name, went through my body. I ran into the building, called into the bathroom...no Clarissa. By this time, the Math teacher and Jonathon had rounded up a few more teachers and we searched the building...inside and out.....one teacher got on the PA for an all call.....no Clarrisa. I opened the back door of the school and all I could see were those apartments and I SCREAMED her name......no Clarissa. At this point, Jonathon has said he would go back and stand by my room in case she showed up there. I ran to the other side of the building (meanwhile EVERY teacher remaining at school is searching) and the Math teacher came around the corner and said he had seen her at the corner of the building and she was running around to the front. One of the other teachers, upon her orders to grab her, ran out the side door to find the MAINTENANCE MAN and the CUSTODIAN standing in front of the building with her. THEY had intercepted her in front of the school! The teacher brought her to me and my knees were weak, I could barely see her because of the tears, and I wanted to hug her and beat her at the same time!!!! Once I reached her, the look on her face told me that she KNEW she was in trouble. I looked at the clock and it was 5:00. She had been OUTSIDE for at least 30 minutes!!! The thoughts raced through my head of what could have happened to her and I cried more. Jonathon met me in the hall, running, crying, so I cried some more. I seriously thought that someone had taken my baby. I can not think of another time in my life that I have been that scared. Needless to say, discipline has been handed out and I have attempted to explain to my almost 6 year old the dangers of that neighborhood but still in her innocence, she doesn't believe me. She told me that she was pretending to take a trip and told me everywhere she had wandered during her little excursion. I could have lived without knowing the details. All I know is that I ran through those halls, praying to God that she was OK. Praise HIM that she is OK.