Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Being a Parent Can Be Terrifying...

Mathes is a very sweet and loving little boy, always telling you how much he loves you and that you’re cute. He is a total monkey and into everything, barely stopping on his way from one thing to the next, doing everything at a dead run. His love for vehicles is infinite, and he can dance like a maniac, but the fact that he seems to have no fear, a penchant for exploring, and isn’t afraid of strangers is really scary to me. This last week he has really given my heart a full workout and scared me to death with his antics. A few weeks ago when Craig was outside working on his motorbike in the garage, Mathes wanted to be outside with his Daddy, so I let him go, and made sure Craig knew he was there. About 30 minutes later Craig came in to wash up for dinner, and I asked where Mathes was. He replied that Mathes had come back inside the house with Dylan, and I assured him he had not. Panicked, Craig and I split up and began to frantically search, when Craig found him down the block at a neighbors, playing in her fenced yard. Apparently he had gone with Dylan back towards the house, but didn’t actually go in, and Dylan and Craig didn’t see him slip away since he’s so quiet, so he climbed the neighbors chain link fence to get to her fun toys in her yard and had been happily playing for who knows how long. This was only the beginning.
   I have a crib tent for Mathes, it’s like a mesh tent that attaches with velcro straps to the top of your crip and has a zippered opening, so you can safely corral your little one, and keep them from trying to climb out of bed and falling or just from getting out and getting into trouble when you think they’re quietly sleeping. Mathes could already unzip it from inside his bed, so we had started tying the zipper to the side where he couldn’t reach, but he’s Houdini, and was easily able to untie anything, it just depended on how patient he was feeling that day. So a few mornings after the fence climbing incident I was awakened at about 7am by Haven running into my room yelling that Mathes was out of bed and had gone outside and was playing in the street! I threw on my clothes as fast as I could while I was running to the door, but Mathes had seen Haven at the door and knew he was in trouble so he had run back into the house before he got caught. I was so shaken up I was crying. I had no idea how long he had been outside, and was terrified at the thought that he could have gotten hurt, or worse. It seemed no matter what we did he was able to undo, untie, or unlock just about any obstacle in his way, and it was freaking me out.
   That was the last straw for me, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep knowing he had no problem getting out, and going outside to play in the street. So I finally found a small luggage lock, and by attaching it to the zipper pull on the crib tent we have finally found the solution to keeping him safe in his bed (I can undo the velcro straps in a matter of seconds in case of any emergency, luckily he can’t). We also have storm doors that lock from the inside or outside with a key, so we have begun keeping both the front and back storm doors locked all of the time since Mathes can unlock both dead bolts and open both doors anytime he wants to make a run for it. I starting to feel a little bit more peaceful at night knowing he is safe, and can’t sneak outside.
   Then on Friday while the kids played downstairs, and I had just hung up the phone with Marky from wishing him a Happy Birthday and I was getting ready to start making dinner(Craig was working on the bathroom again) when I got a knock at the front door. I opened it to see my neighbor standing there holding my son Mathes, who was supposed to be in the basement playing with his siblings. He had quietly slipped out the back door that someone had left unlocked, and run down the block to her house again, tried to climb the chain link fence again, and this time got caught on it, and was stuck for we don’t know how long. Thankfully my neighbor has kids of her own, and said she understood, but I was absolutely undone. Neither Craig nor I had any idea Mathes had gotten out, or for how long since he is so quiet when he wants to be. I swear he came with a stealth mode.
   Shorlty after that fiasco Chris showed up with Grammy Lesa to pick up the two older kids for the weekend, and I was outside with all of the kids (Craig was still working on the bathroom walls) while we waited for Dylan to finish getting some Scout info he needed before he left. Mathes and Haven had climbed into the Suburban while we were chatting (Mathes LOVES cars), and the two front doors were open while they were bouncing on the seats inside, having what I thought was harmless fun. I had just handed the baby to Lesa when all of a sudden Chris says “Oh no! Oh no! Oh no!” and starts to run towards the car. I turned around just in time to see the Suburban rolling backwards down the driveway, with Haven happily bouncing in the drivers seat ” steering” and Mathes in the passenger seat looking mildly interested that they were now moving. Chris ran and jumped into the drivers side through the open door, and shoved his hand onto the brake until he could get it back into “park”, thus saving my kids from harm, and my neighbors house from severe damage. We have no idea how the kids muscled it out of “park” because it’s nearly impossible on that car to do it without the keys, but somehow the two of them did, and I am so thankful for Chris and his quick actions.
   So I am a total nazi now about locking the doors of the house and the cars, and so far these last few days have been better, and he hasn’t been able to run out without us knowing, and there have been no incidents of underage driving either. Although we had already been keeping the cars locked since we knew with his love of vehicles he would have no problem climbing into either car, and if we were unaware of his escape it would be terrible during the heat of the summer for him to be in the car, unnattended and and without us knowing. For those of you that think I’m a terrible mother, I challenge you to come and visit with me and my little monkey boy for even 1 hour, and you will see, he’s all boy, and we’re really doing everything we can to keep him safe. (Although if I was really worried about what other people think about my parenting skills I wouldn’t have posted this.) And for those of you that have a boy or boys just like this, you are not alone, I understand your frustration!
*(Please note that I have talked to a lot of women who have all said that they went through the same things with their own sons, some young moms in the middle of it and just as frustrated as I am, and some moms that are a little older and have managed to get their little monkey boy to adulthood with no lasting scars, and my Mom was one of them with my three brothers, so I feel there’s hope for me yet.)

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