I was reminded of this when I found a neighbor’s naked toddler wandering around picking flowers. She even looked like she could have been one of my tiny time travelers with her big cloud of hair. As I walked her to what she said was her front door, (which it was) she stopped to pull a piece of packing tape off her belly. “Ow,..” she whimpered for a second before sticking the tape back on her belly and resuming her march home. Then again, fffftt “Ow…”
Her mother was irritated by the interruption, fussed at the little girl and then squinted at me with dawning suspicion. She asked if I was a neighbor.
Wow. No dysfunction around here, I guess. I kept a breezy tone and said there was no need to thank me, I had had my own escaped toddlers before.
(from November 1998)
Our girls escaped just a few weeks ago. We generally allow Sparky (7) and Spunky (4) to play in front of the house with moderate supervision-that is, we peer out the front windows every few minutes.
Our house isn’t near any busy thoroughfares and the biggest concern is that some of the bigger kids will let them use a slingshot. We always prefer that the girls are not armed.
That evening, they had been busy drawing chalk outlines of themselves to create a stunning artificial crime scene. I heard them stampede into the house and out again several times.
After a short interval, I looked outside and they were gone.
It was exactly like one of those awful moments on film, where the camera focusses on a lonely red tricycle, laying on its side with one wheel still spinning.
I shouted to their father, and then burst out the front door. I was filled with that instinctive mommy sense that something was terribly wrong. My neighbor saw the look on my face as I passed, and she wordlessly headed in the other direction looking for my girls.
Every time I yelled their names, I felt my tears try to work their way free.
Just as I began to jog around behind the houses, I heard my name. Da had found them.
The neighbor laughed at us, and even though it was funny, it took me every bit of half an hour to find some calm and get over the feeling that I’d really like to hurt somebody. Even the dog avoided me.
We had been at red alert for less than five minutes, but that’s long enough to get a powerful and poisonous dose of fear.
Where were they? Upstairs playing Dinosaur Hospital in the sink.
They were so unnaturally quiet that we’d assumed that they weren’t even in the house.
I couldn’t fault them. They are only supposed to ask permission to go out, not to come back in.