My Mini Escape Artist
By: Their Bad Mommy
Sometimes, to get through the day you have to become a regular ninja master. There is a saying about how suspicious silence is when you have children, especially small children. True to that, if you can’t hear them then they are more than likely getting into something they shouldn’t. . . or worse, not there at all.
I have two small boys, R is going to turn 5 soon and L just turned 1 a couple months ago. R just recently did something that he hadn’t done since last year and I had hoped, since then, that he’d never do again.
Last year, around this time, L was just 2 months old and I’d gotten him down for a nap. I was craving a shower like I hadn’t had one in months. I was looking forward to the steamy heat of the water, the gentle massaging scrub I would give my scalp and the ultimate task of shaving off the obnoxious prickles that had begun to grow back on my legs with defiance. Showers are my one little piece of luxury, it’s my me time. It’s the time I get to be away from screaming, back talk, mess, and general chaos that comes with children and just get to relax. Everything slows down and I can breathe again.
So I eagerly put R in his room and told him to play in there for a bit, “Mommy is going to take a shower, okay?” I ask him. “Okay,” he’d enthusiastically repeated. Then I all but skipped to my safe haven of steam, comfort, and relaxation. When I was finished, I toweled up and walked out to check on R. His bedroom was empty. I made my way downstairs, hopeful that I’d find him down there getting into candy, cookies or something else. Maybe I’d even find him just contently playing with his toys in the living room. The house was empty, our dogs were also nowhere to be found, and the front door was wide open.
My heart and my stomach battled it out in my throat as I rushed to put clothes on, call my husband at work and scoop the baby as worst case scenarios twisted into a tornado in my mind. With long, and I mean long, curls of wet hair soaked my back and a sleepy, barely awake, baby in my arms I rushed around calling for R and calling for the dogs. I hoped that they would all still be together. Panic was twisting deeper into me with each passing second that I couldn’t find R. It wasn’t until I had enough sense to run behind the house that I realized that there was an unfamiliar man standing on the back porch of my neighbors’ house. I followed the outside of my own back fence and walked toward him, not even registering at first that my youngest dog was in that same yard with him.
“Did you lose someone?” He asked, pulling the phone away from his ear and smiling. Before I could answer I caught sight of little R standing inside the fenced yard talking casually, as if nothing were amiss, in just his underwear (because I can not for the life of me get him to keep clothes on) and sucking on a lollipop. Relief hit me so hard that my legs were knocked out from under me and I collapsed to my knees in the grass with the baby in my arms, oblivious to the events coming to a close around him.
The man had been a neighbor who lived a few houses down. He had seen my son and our dogs roaming the neighborhood and had stopped him to find out where he lived. R had told him that he lived in the house right next to ours with one of our dogs, he claimed our other dog lived at the house behind ours. The man had been on the phone with his wife who was in her car searching for a frantic parent frenziedly searching for a lost child. Neither of them knew that I had been so close. When I inquired as to how R had gotten the sucker the man said that R had already had it when he found him. The thought still bothers me because I know we didn’t have any at our home. Someone somewhere along his adventure had given my son (wondering in just his undies) a lollipop and let him carry on his way, as far as I know.
I thanked the man from a few houses down and got my children back into the house, the adrenaline wearing off and a throbbing headache began to take over. I explained so carefully why he should never ever leave the house without Mommy or Daddy and I guess for a year the understanding stuck.
However, not even two weeks ago, again I took L up for a nap and while my husband got ready for work I talked to him about the floor plan of the house we are supposed to be moving into soon. I was upstairs in our room for roughly a little less than fifteen minutes. R was downstairs absorbed in his YouTube and had about another half hour left of YouTube time left. In the middle of our discussion about the house, R came upstairs and wordlessly put the dogs into our room and shut the door. “That’s weird,” I said to my husband. “Ya, but he’s probably just getting into something he shouldn’t,” my husband suggested with a lack of urgency. I figured that he was probably right and pictured R pulling a dining room chair over to the pantry, like he’d done countless times before, and using it to get to the goodies on the upper shelves. “I’ll deal with it in a sec,” I said and we finished up our talk, agreeing that the house was nice and that the timing would be good.
I opened the door and headed downstairs, the light was already streaming in through the glass of the outer door, the inner door wide open. I hurriedly searched the house and the backyard before setting off. I went first to the neighbor next door where R is good friends with their children, he wasn’t there. I then went across the street to where three children R was friends with lived, he wasn’t there either. Once again, R was loose in the neighborhood and wearing only his underwear. I raced around the neighborhood barefooted and panicked. Neighbors were scattering, running around, searching for R with me.
About a block and a half away, and in the opposite direction I’d gone, I had caught sight of him by chance. I ran. I ran faster than I’ve probably ever run, especially barefoot on the hot sidewalk, screaming his name. He heard me and began to run toward me too. Tears burned and stung my eyes. My chest was tight and my body felt like it could fall to pieces at any moment. We collided hard and I wrapped him in my arms and told him never to do that to me again. I pleaded with him, told him how much it scared me to have him just disappear.
R burst into tears. . . apparently, I hurt his feelings.
He wound up in someones yard, the parents stood in the driveway while their three children played around them. The husband told me he had called security forces because he didn’t know where the child had come from. Security forces are military police, they are who you call instead of 911 for these sort of things when you live on base. I didn’t mind, who would?
At that time our next door neighbor had pulled up in his car and was going to drive us back home, which was great because I could feel my limbs turning to jelly. Security forces rolled up and he sternly asked me a few questions about myself, where I lived, my husbands rank, what he did, what I did, etc. Then the next question can and I was a little put off by the wording, “Tell me, how does a child this age leave the home unsupervised?”
What?! Like I should never ever let my child out of my sight and he was annoyed with me for allowing this to happen. That it was irresponsible of me. I get that the theory of having eyes on your children AT ALL TIMES is a nice one and if it weren’t completely unrealistic then sure we’d all be better parents, I am sure. However, it’s almost an impossible task. For a long time I would take my kids to the bathroom with me and had my eyes glued on them as frequently as possible but now I just want to pee in peace, without little hands grabbing at me or without someone trying to get into the drawers and having to try to handle everything from the seat of the toilet. The worst is when they cry until they get to sit in your lap and all you want to do is be left the heck alone while you do your business. So yes, my children are out of my sight for small fractions of the day and usually, the world doesn’t come to an end. Does that make me a bad parent? I really don’t think it does.
When R escaped the first time I felt like the worlds worst mom. This time around I realized that it happens regardless of what kind of parent you are. Yes, if I had brought him in the room with me to talk with my husband then he probably wouldn’t have left at that point. However, he had already got it into his head that that was something he wanted to do so he would have simply waited for another opportunity. Maybe it would have been while I was in the bathroom, maybe he would wait until I took his brother up for bed at the end of the day. Who really knows, but what I have come to realize is that children have their own agendas, they don’t always make sense, but once they make up their mind about doing something, they are usually going to follow through.
A very important lesson I’ve learned is that if you’re trying hard to be the best parent you can be then you shouldn’t beat yourself up when your child throws you a curve ball, that is just them keeping you on your toes.
I bought a couple of these child trackers and tie them the belt loops in R's pants. I would tie them in his shoe laces but he only has velcro on his shoes and I worry that it will be too easy for him to take them off. I've jokingly mentioned to my husband that I should buy them in bulk and just sew them to his underwear since that is all that he seems to keep on anymore. While he is always willing to consider that as plan B, he is still hopeful in the idea that we will eventually be able to keep our son wearing pants. I know these are not specifically meant for tracking your small children, however, it still serves the purpose without breaking your wallet. They are easy, compact and my son doesn't even realize it is there swinging on his belt loop. It has a camera on it as well, it also comes equipped with an alarm and a sound that can be triggered from your phone to help you find lost things. It is mainly meant to find maybe your car keys, luggage, maybe a pet, etc. but it keeps track of where he is. I worry a little bit less too, especially since this morning while I was trying to have a peaceful bathroom experience on my own, I heard the deadbolt on the front door turn and the front door open. He was going to leave on his own again. I am not certain how best to get it through to him that he can't do that but at least now I can track his little booty down every time, assuming he ever escapes again.
Have You Ever Momentarily Misplaced Your Child?
About the Author
Being a mom can be challenging all in itself, whether you have one child or twelve. It all comes down to learning how to interact with each of your children. For me, it is often having two plans and two systems for everything. My eldest is sensitive and nearly everything will make him cry. He had ketchup in his hair the other day and cried his eyes out because he insisted as I was washing it out that it was blood and he was dying. My youngest is the toughest little guy I know. His older brother pushed him down the stairs and he bounced halfway down before I caught him. He had a bright red spot on his face from rug burn but didn't even whimper. Instead, he turned around to look at his big brother at the top of the stairs and yelled at him.
Now, here I am pregnant with my 3rd child and hoping beyond hope that this baby will be my sweet, obedient, calm, well-balanced, quiet child....but who am I kidding. This one will probably be the wildest of them all and I won't know what sleep or sanity is for 18-20 years.
I am also an Air Force wife and that comes with its own pressures and challenges. You're held to a higher standard because you're tied to the military for as long as your husband is a part of it. It isn't terrible but it can be difficult to navigate, especially when you're a parent.
My point is, I KNOW the struggles that you're going through and I really hope that you can enjoy some of the stories of my own struggles that might make you feel just a tiny bit better or give you that sigh of relief, the "I am not alone," feeling.