Inspired by Papa Bradstein’s tale of childhood trauma, I thought I would share what was possibly the worst 20 minutes of my parenting life so far (not counting the days when we thought SillyBilly was going to die, that’s another post I might suck it up and write someday).
Last winter SillyBilly and Napoleona and I were out in the yard playing, when I announced it was time to go inside. SillyBilly immediately pitched a fit and refused to leave the yard.
Now, I can still carry the kids if I need to, but not both of them at the same time. Last year Napoleona still could not be relied upon to follow me, because she would get distracted by some tiny bug or something and head off God knows where. I knew I had to get her inside first so that she would be safely corralled in the house.
So I tried the old mama trick: “OK fine bye-bye,” where you act like you’re leaving and the kid comes running after you. I expected SillyBilly to come in right behind me. Bad Mama, no biscuit.
He took off running into the woods, unbeknownst to me. So when I went back outside after taking off Napoleona’s snow clothes, he was nowhere to be found. I went into the woods calling his name, and thought I heard distant crying but wasn’t sure. I was wearing completely wrong shoes for snow (Birkenstocks) and was starting to freak out. Which way did he run? Did he go down the hill toward the slippery, icy brook? Was he wandering randomly through the forest? Did he go out to the road?
I went back to the house to change my shoes and was just thinking about which neighbor to drop Napoleona with, when the cell phone rang. Something told me to answer it, and I’m glad I did.
It was Anthropapa, calling to say that SillyBilly had run all the way to his office, crying the whole way evidently. They were now walking home together.
I sat down on the bench on the porch with Napoleona and had a good, gut-wrenching cry to calm myself down. You see, to get to his papa’s office, SillyBilly had to run all the way down the forest path to the two-lane road, cross it, and run down the hill and up the driveway of papa’s office. The road is a bit twisty and bumpy, and at the spot where the forest path meets it drivers are usually far exceeding the local speed limit. SillyBilly’s guardian angel gets my undying devotion for shepherding him across that street unharmed.
When they arrived, Anthropapa told me that several local people saw or heard SillyBilly running down the street wailing, one of whom even followed him to the office to make sure everything was OK. And he explained that SillyBilly got disoriented when he went into the woods and couldn’t see the little path back to our yard. Although in winter you can see for a really long way through the woods and our building would have been clearly visible, he couldn’t tell which house was ours.
I felt like an uncaring mama worm at that point. I gave SillyBilly many tearful, shaky kisses and hugs when he got home, and he wasn’t too traumatized in the end. And on some level I was proud of him for figuring out how to find his papa. Now if I can just teach him to look both ways before crossing the street….