Or is that one of those, "well, every mother goes through it, but no mother warns others about it" kind of thing? hmmmm?
Earlier today I let my son play out back. Before going outside, I laid down some ground rules:
1) Don't go in the parking lot. Stay on the grass.
2) Don't hit any of the cars with the ball. Don't throw it in that direction.
3) Don't talk to any strangers.
4) I know you like to say hi to people, but today, don't talk to anyone. You don't know it they're good or bad people, okay?
So that was pretty much it. I let him play out back with some random ball. After a while, I can hear him playing with other kids. Of course I periodically check on him, and keep the blinds open so I can see him. I even say hi to the kids that are playing with him.
At one point, my son comes in and asks if he can go to the kid's house to play. I go outside to tell the kids that my son can not go to their house, but maybe tomorrow. I say that they can play until it gets dark, but then my son has to come inside. They agree and decide to keep playing outside for a little while longer.
I'm not letting my child go to anyone else's house until I meet their parents and know where the house it, obviously.
It started to get dark so I go outside to get my son. I don't see any kids. I don't hear any kids. I'd like to say I kept my cool, but I definitely felt a little panicky.
I walk around out back, then I circle our apartment building. No kids. I go back inside to see if he came back. No kid. I grab my keys and my phone and go back out the back door.
I hear some kids running and screaming playfully. I go to where they are and I recognize the two kids that were playing with my son, but I don't see my son with them. They are starting to go inside their apartment and I stop them. "Have you seen the kid with the blue coat?"
Their older brother who wasn't playing with them earlier asks me what's wrong. I tell him nothing, I'm just looking for my son. One of the original asshole kids speaks up.
"He chased us all the way that way."
"Do you know where he is NOW?"
I turn around and leave the little asshole kids who abandoned my son and start the hunt again. As I'm rounding my apartment building and step into the parking lot, I see two women walking on either side of my son, holding his hands. Thank god. I was thisclose to crying, and I was definitely dreading going into the park at night to look for him.
The women tell me that they heard him crying outside their back door by the park. I thank them over and over and show them where we live, in case it ever happens again. yeah right. He tells me that the kids left him there and he got scared since he couldn't find his way home.
Of course he's in trouble for breaking the rules. He had to leave the grassy area to cross the parking lot in order to get near the park. Plus he's not allowed to play with those lying little fuckers anymore either.
In real time, this whole thing didn't last more than 10 minutes, maybe less. I still got scared. I kept imagining finding his twisted body in the parking lot, a victim of some hit and run*. Or finding him getting hassled by some 13yr old thug drug dealers in the park. And it's not like we live in some super bad place, it's just what sprang to mind when I couldn't find my son.
I hope to god that Good Mothers go through this too. I hope it's not a Bad Mother thing. I mean, I almost told him not to talk to kids either, but I don't want to make him that weird kid that doesn't get to play outside ever.
Anyway, I'm glad it's over. I'm glad my son is okay and knows to listen to me now. I'm definitely glad it turned out to be no big deal and that there are still good natured adults that live here. We need to get back to a time when we knew our neighbors.
*That isn't a far fetched thought, a kid that goes to his school got hit by a car just last week or the week before on our street. I think her mom who was walking with her died, but the little girl survived. The road to our apartment complex was closed for hours when it happened and the school just sent home a note urging parents to watch out for post traumatic symtoms in the other students.