We live in the heart of Windy City. As someone who will not drive here because of the terrifyingness that is the traffic, not to mention the minor fact that somehow I managed to get to adulthood without learning to drive a stick shift, I like living in the city. I can walk to where I need to go and there are plenty of taxis to take us further than Jack Jack’s legs can go. Our corner store sells diapers, juice and tuna fish, and just a few more blocks away are larger stores with ketchup and frozen chicken breasts (the essentials, obviously), vegetable and fruit sellers, pirated DVD stores and if ever I’m so inclined, a butcher’s shop featuring that day’s selection of goat heats.
However, my world is pretty small these days. We do home schooling and living in the couple of rooms we keep heated and the kids play in the yard with high walls all around. Going out takes a ton of effort in getting all the layers of clothes on, figuring out how security is in the city that day and it’s usually a quick trip to the store, or a day at a friends house, with the same sorts of high walls.
So it felt very special to go outside our neighborhood to the outskirts of the city where friends of ours have set up their home. They are from California and work with local farmers in food processing and agriculture business. They are some of the coolest people I know.
The only other people in the apartment building is the landlord and his family on the second floor. The fourth floor is still under construction, with no windows, doorways and access to the roof. We had a tour of the building and then sat down to eat lunch. We were happily visiting away when I noticed that Jack Jack wasn’t with this brother and sister, playing iPad. It took only a few seconds to realize that he had slipped out quietly and was no where to be found. With my heart in my mouth I yelled for Mr. Incredible to run up to the fourth floor to see if he was exploring. I could envision him running through open doorways and balconies with no guard rails.
I dashed downstairs and met the landlord on his way in. Now, normally, I’m very indirect and reserved with Afghan men, but this time I stared right into his face and practically shouted at him in mixed up, frightened Dari, “have you seen a little foreigner boy? A little boy with glasses?” He said no and was immediately concerned and joined in the search. I was just about to dash out and search the street when the door opened and the landlord’s son popped his head out. “I have him, I have him” he called out and sure enough, there was Jack Jack, sitting in their living room. The Afghan kids were bemused by this little blonde boy and were having a great time with him. Obviously they knew he belonged to us and hadn’t seen any reason to bring him back upstairs.
Our hosts and Mr. Incredible thanked the neighbors while I held on to Jack Jack and had a little melt down. Got over that and after a bit the boy and his sisters came upstairs and had a great (supervised!) time playing together with my three.
I really enjoyed the day out, walking in the quiet streets and seeing my kids interact so well with Afghan kids. This is something we’ve really been praying for. But reliving those frightening moments when Jack Jack was missing makes me grateful for our high walls and closely guarded gate at home!