Written by: Jenny
I don't know when I'll ever get comfortable with the idea of letting my children out of my sight. Not knowing their whereabouts. Going for a bike ride through the neighborhood alone.
I mean, I know at some point, I will have no choice. I can't keep them glued to my side for the rest of their lives (although, I've tried to think of a way to make that possible. Kidding. Sort of.)
I just don't know when I'll ever be 'OK' with it.
Today's world is just SO different than the one I grew up in. My parents had no idea where I was 90% of the time. My siblings and I went out to play early in the morning, came home for meals and then in for the night when it got dark. It was fun. I felt free. I felt safe.
To a degree, I do this to myself. I enjoy reading memoirs and autobiographies. So, I've read all about Elizabeth Smart, Jaycee Dugard and the Cleveland kidnapping victims. Terrifying accounts. Rare. But, it happened. To regular, run-of-the-mill young women.
We had a little incident a few years ago that still rattles me.
Winter 2014. A Saturday afternoon.
It had snowed a little bit that day and was extremely cold outside. We had only lived in our new home for a few months. Julianne was four, Miles was two. One of those days with not much going on. We decided to round up the kids and go run a few errands.
Matthew and the kids were in our foyer. He went to the closet down the hall to grab coats. I ran upstairs to grab something. I can't even recall what or why.
I came back downstairs and saw Matthew and Julianne -- but Miles wasn't there. I asked Matthew where he went and he said he didn't know. A curious two-year-old. Who knows.
I cruised around our main level and didn't see him anywhere. I had just been upstairs, so I knew he wasn't up there. Did he go down to the basement? Odd, because usually the kids don't want to go down there unless we're with them. But, he wasn't anywhere else so... I looked. No Miles.
Slightly perplexed at that point, I came back up to the main level and still no sign of him. I ran upstairs. Again, I searched the main level. I ran back down to the basement. No Miles.
My heart started to race. I panicked. We have a home security system, so if any of the doors had been opened, we would've heard a 'beep-beep-beep'. Neither of us heard it. But, we opened the doors anyway and looked outside.
Like, I said, it had snowed a little that day, so we would've seen his little footprints. Nothing.
Where. Was. My. Son? I felt like a moron on one hand because this was our HOME. But, it was new and my mind started to go to crazy places -- was there a big hole or something in the floor somewhere? Did he fall down... a vent? I mean, this all seems ridiculous now -- but I'm telling you in that moment, my son was MISSING and there just had to be an explanation!
I started to hyperventilate. Matthew -- who NEVER gets worked up. He is always steady and calm. He was freaked out. Seeing him worried made me worry even more.
After searching the entire house about 10 more times, running out to the street, seeing neighbors who so kindly came into our home to help us search and still NO MILES, we called 911. We honestly did not know what else to do.
Minutes later (and by the way, this entire experience seemed to last for an hour. In reality, it was just minutes altogether.) one of my neighbors yelled from down the hall -- I FOUND HIM!
He had wedged his tiny little two-year-old self behind the toilet in the powder room. A room I had checked what seemed like 20 times. But, with not a lot of 'hiding spaces' in there, I just didn't look... behind the toilet.
I'm guessing the more we yelled out his name and he heard panic in our voices, the more he feared he was in trouble and hid!
The bizarre nightmare was over. I had my baby. I was sure my relatively new neighbors thought I was completely nuts. We called the police and apologized for the incident -- no need to come by.
The memory of that day will never leave me. It creeps in when we're in a department store and one of the kids darts off for half a second.
'Stranger Danger'. Even teaching that is a tricky thing -- I don't want my kids to live in fear! But, they also need to know that not everyone is good.
So, when to let them go and have a little bit of freedom?
Baby steps, I suppose.