Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Gone, Baby Gone

Another adventurous day.

On the whole, it actually went much better than I had thought it might, with both children playing together in Josie's bed first thing, and no major fights the entire day. Considering the weather, and the outrageous level of cabin fever, I consider that a major success.

However, for the first time in awhile, Patrick pulled a vanishing act on me! Let me begin by saying, he has a long history of doing things like this, but it's been years since the last incident. I believe the first time was when he was about 18mo old, when he toddled off at the beach while I had my back turned, picking up sand toys and putting them into the beach bag. Just like that, he was gone. By the time I found him ten minutes later, happily eating a cracker on the blanket of a kind woman who was holding onto him to keep him out of further trouble until his mother turned up, I was certain he had been washed away by the tide, and was in fact looking into the water as I screamed for him. The second time, a few months later, he disappeared from the gym daycare while I was working out, and was missing for almost a half hour. The staff, all of whom I had known for years, were pale as ghosts, and the entire place was on lockdown, including the parking lot where they were searching cars because, although no one wanted to say it out loud, they thought he had been somehow taken. Turned out, he had simply gone into the walk-in toy closet (which was on the way to the toddler class he was in line to go to when they noticed he was gone) and climbed up to the top shelf, where he sat happily in the dark with all the toys to himself. No one had thought to look on the shelves to find him, because children are supposed to be on the FLOOR. Let's see... then there were the two times he left the house when he was two; one time I hadn't locked the door, and I looked out the window while talking to the contractor installing said window only to see him wandering down the road, baggie of popcorn in hand, like a little homeless person, and another when he figured out the deadbolt while I was in the bathroom.

All those incidents were years ago, however, so it's been quite awhile since I've worried about his purposefully leaving me while we're in a normal location. At fairs, playgrounds, etc, I keep an extra eye on him, but at places like the library, where we were today, I expect that his ability to stay put at the little kid table while I,say, help his sister pick out books is sufficient. Obviously, I am an idiot.

The three of us were standing at the library checkout counter, me with a giant pile of books in front of me, Josie doing her new drive-me-crazy move, which is a kind of modified grapevine-a-la-pee-pee-dance, and Patrick wriggling all around while holding onto a card listing the library's new online capabilities and asking me a lot of questions which I was trying to answer while simultaneously fishing for my library card and answering the librarian's questions about fines and materials I had on reserve. Finally, I told Patrick that I needed to speak to the librarian, so please just read the card for himself (yes, he reads fluently). In the ensuing quiet, I dealt with all things library, and took a breath. After a second, I noticed that it was, in fact, quiet, which is never a good sign, so I turned around, and Patrick was GONE. Not next to me, not sitting at the tables nearby, not climbing on the video rack, but GONE.

Then, I glimpsed his little hat head walking out the door, still reading the card. HE was LEAVING.

My first response was to holler for him to come RIGHT BACK HERE, which being in his own little universe he heard not at all. So, I took off after him, still calling for him, with people looking at me like I was a mad assassin. Within about fifteen seconds I caught up to him, STILL WALKING, even though by this time we were both out in the snow, and asked him such popular favorites as, 'What on Earth Did He Think He Was Doing', 'Where Did He Think He Was Going, Young Man?!' and, my personal favorite, 'Had He LOST His MIND?!' in a tone that probably would have done many a banshee proud. The people around me had the nerve to look surprised that I was upset! It turned out that The Boy, of course, had no answer to any of these questions, but did at least have the sense to look abashed. Good Lord.

Suffice it to say that Mr. Idontwanna Holdyourhand is going to be back on a short leash until he's twenty at this rate!