Do you ever have those days when you feel as though just getting your children through it alive is an accomplishment, and sometimes it’s because you might kill them yourself? When the last bedroom door shuts and the last pair of tiny eyes closes in slumber you sigh in relief and think to yourself, “I’m so glad that’s over.”
Today was one of those days.
It started well enough, breakfast, school, making muffins, lunch, playing at the playground with friends. And then…
We walked to Kinko’s. The Boy likes to take his scooter along as we go and as is habit ride ahead to the corner and then sit down and wait for me, until I get there and we cross together. He never crosses the street by himself: he knows to wait for me. There is one corner however that gives him problems. Because we don’t often cross at that corner but turn and continue on the same sidewalk he can get too far ahead. Just two days ago I had spoken to him about it and reminded him to always make sure he can see me behind him or he’s gone too far. Today as we approached that corner the Girl was lagging behind a bit. As I saw the Boy approach the corner I shouted, “wait” to remind him to stop. Either he didn’t hear me or was ignoring me, I’m not certain which it was because it was pretty windy today, and he kept going. So I shouted for him to stop as he rounded the corner and vanished from sight. He usually waits at the corner; the problem is that I can’t see him past the hedge. One second goes by, two seconds, I don’t see my son. I can’t run to catch up because I can’t leave my little Girl behind where I won’t be able to see her. Grabbing her hand I go as fast as I can with a baby strapped to my front and a short person beside me. I am hoarse from yelling his name; if he can hear me he should be in sight by now. We round the corner and there he is a block and a half away on an incredibly busy 8 lane street. He didn’t stop, he didn’t even slow down. He is waiting at the curb, back to me, going the wrong way. He apparently doesn’t hear me shouting over the wind and the traffic. Not once in the 3 or so minutes it takes me to reach him does he look behind him to make sure I’m close. By this time the moment of panic has turned into fury and I want to tear the child limb from limb for scaring me like that and being so disobedient and dangerous. Instead I grab the scooter from him, throw it in my little shopping cart, and tell him he will not be riding it for a week because he broke the rules, and he can’t ride on it if he can’t do it safely. He cries the rest of the way to Kinko’s.
While I am trying to make sure that my package is properly addressed and paying the nice man named Richard who’s poor lot it is to help me every time I go there to mail something, only today the Baby actually smiled at him instead of wailing because I’ve stopped walking, my children are suddenly MIA. I hear yelling from the little bathroom there as the girl screams, “I have to pee!” and the boy tries to drag her out yelling, “Come back to Mommy.” (Yes, today I was that woman.) “At least the Boy has learned his lesson.” I think. I finish paying Richard and go to help the Girl who suddenly has to poo even though I sat her on the toilet 15 minutes ago, just before we walked out of the house. I tell the Boy to wait right outside of the bathroom door for me, which I leave ajar just in case he needs to call me. I get the germs cleaned off of the girl and I and walk out the door to… a lonely shopping cart standing next to the door. A quick scan of the store while dragging the girl behind me and I still can’t find him, anywhere. I’m about to walk out the front door and start searching the street when I think to check the men’s bathroom. And I find my son who somehow didn’t think there was a problem with disobeying a direct order to wait here and wander off without even telling me where he’s going, even though I was well within earshot. I tell him there will be the standard consequences when we get home.
We walk perhaps 30 feet out of the store and onto the sidewalk. The children are checking out a drain that crosses beneath the sidewalk from the parking lot and drains onto the street. I say get up, let’s go and I see them move and assume they are coming toward me. The next thing I know my child is sticking his head way out into the street to look in the drain from the other side just as the light changes and a hundred cars come zipping past us. I think I might have screamed the next, “get up”. And he comes to me with a quizzical look wondering what my problem is this time. After the discussion, consequences, never ending explanation as to why that was dangerous, and disobedient I’m glad to report that he did nothing else that he shouldn’t the rest of the day, and he vigilantly checked in at the Target garden center every couple of feet to make sure he could still see me and ran to me immediately every time he heard me call.
But the day isn’t over yet.
After getting home the kids asked if they could go to the playground again. Now, I can’t see the playground from my window but it’s only about 10 steps away from our front door. We live in a gated community so it’s relatively safe, and I had seen several kids and parents that we know playing there as we came home. I was in the middle of nursing the Baby, but I told them to go ahead, to only go to the playground and I will be there in a minute when the Baby finishes. I sit and nurse while listening to the sounds of kids and parents playing through my open front door. When I get to the playground I see the Boy, but where is the Girl? Has anyone seen her? No? Where did she go Boy? He doesn’t remember. I send the Boy home and begin my walk of the neighborhood. For the first two minutes I keep expecting to find her around the next corner, playing with someone or digging in the dirt under a tree or looking at the cats in one neighbor’s window. After the first few minutes go by I’m retracing my steps and there’s still no sign of her. I double back, check unlikely places, no one has seen her. I walk the circuit again. By this time I am berating myself for being a totally negligent idiot. It’s been 5 minutes since I realized she was missing, 7 since anyone has seen her, she could already be dead. Every crying child I hear through apartment doors is my little girl, some one has taken her and doing terrible things to her and I wouldn’t even know how to find her. I know the stats, it only takes 5 minutes for a child to be molested, raped, murdered; if kidnapped she is already gone, different clothes, different hair, I will never see her again. My heart is squeezing in my chest, I’m fighting back tears, I am praying, inside I am fighting against all sorts of evil, imaginary and real to get my daughter back, and I round the corner to my house and she is standing there, pee dripping down her legs. “Mommy I had to go pee but it already camed out, my pants are wet.”
As I pick her up and squeeze her tight, pee and all, I demand to know, “Where were you?”
“I went to a friend’s house but her mommy told me I should go home now because they are having dinner.” (This is a huge no-no, they are not allowed to go to anyone’s house with out first asking, but she did it anyway.)
The child’s parent’s are from India and unbelievably hospitable, they just invited her in and fed her snacks, until they realized I didn’t know where she was.
All children are appropriately chastised, bathed fed and in bed now, except the Baby. My husband wonders why on earth I would need some time to unwind after the kids are finally in bed. Gee, I don’t know…