It happened this morning.
Something I have been terrified of from the day Jack Jack was a month old and we took him to a friend’s home, who had a ten year old with Down syndrome. Sue pointed out the dead bolt on their front door, way up high out of reach, and mentioned that their son liked to escape out the front door and visit their neighbor.
“Well” I thought to myself, “we won’t have a house full of alarms and locks. We will train him and teach him and always watch him.” I am an idiot.
Because you can’t watch a busy four year old every minute of the day and I am more of the “benevolent neglect” type of mom than the “helicopter parent” so that wasn’t going to last long anyway.
And so, in the time it took me to put laundry in the washing machine and walk back to the bedroom to dry my hair, and my dad to take a quick shower, Jack Jack was out the front door and down the road. He’s gone out the front door many times before, but always to climb on Grandpa’s Harley or to try and get in the camper. But this last weekend Violet and older cousin went on some walks and Jack Jack had tried to follow them before being hauled back home, kicking and screaming. He just knew he was big enough to go.
This morning after I turned off my hair dryer I realized I didn’t hear him playing. He wasn’t in with GiGi watching TV. He wasn’t outside on the motorcycle or out back with the horse. He wasn’t watching the laundry or chasing down the cats.
He was nowhere. This is one of my worst night mares — Jack Jack getting lost, without the language skills to get help or find his way home.
My stomach lurched and my brain went a bit fuzzy and I ran out the front door calling his name as loud as I could without screaming.
I wasn’t even across the yard when I saw my parents’ neighbor walking up the lane holding Jack Jack in his arms. He had been in his house when he heard a noise in his garage and went to go see. He found my little guy standing there, looking around, probably hoping to try the dune buggy they have.
The neighbor was sweet and understanding, and I was an incoherent, babbling mess and will need to go back over and say thank you properly and make them a pie.
I am grateful that this happened while we are living with my folks, on an empty country lane with a kind neighbor who knows us, rather than on the busy town street where we lived before, with the highway just a few blocks away.
But I’m totally dead bolting the door from here on out.