Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Scarred 4 Life

One day my mom asked, "Did you hear about the 3 year old found walking his dog at 3 am along the avenues?" Why, yes! I had seen that on the news. "I thought of you," she said. While the people interviewed on the street may have ragged on those parents, I didn't. Plus, what were those unthinking critics uh, thinking? I felt like asking them "How many of you are awake at 3 am supervising your children to make sure they're still asleep? " As a matter of fact, if your kids stay in bed all night, and LET you sleep, I'd consider yourself lucky. Here's my story:
As best I recollect, it was about May or June of 2003. Papi had just recently acquired a huge quick set pool. Carino was a fish in the water, but it made me a little nervous having a pool with such small children. The Things were just one year old, Carino was just 4, Gigio was 4 and Enigma was almost 13.
So, Papi was working at night and I was so burnt out(don't ask me why, ha ha) and the children were not at all tired. I just didn't have the energy to put them all to bed so, I ended up with all of them on my bed watching a video with the lights off in hopes of inspiring them to doze off into dreamland. No such luck. I was the only one dozing off. When the movie ended, I sent them to the other room with a boob tube and another riveting video along with blankets, pillows, lights out, etc. Often a nice camp out with the siblings will bring on some zzzz's, right? In any case, they were much more likely to stay put and not get in much trouble that way. It was now about 10:30. they probably wouldn't finish the movie. Any pediatrician will now chew me out for not putting them in their beds, without a TV set, but I was absolutely dying from sleep deprivation. I would have to be a model parent another night.
I went back to bed and collapsed. That was all I remembered. Then next thing I knew, the doorbell was ringing and I shot out of bed to get the door. Occasionally my husband will forget the key to the house and have to ring the doorbell to get in. I unlock the door, expecting my dear mate of course, and I am shocked to see, upon opening the door...Carino, bawling his little eyes out. My first thought is how rude of his siblings to lock him out, probably over some squabble. I pick him up and hug him and comfort him while asking him how he got out there. He wasn't extremely verbal at this point so the description was cryptic and chopped, punctuated by sobs. I carry him to the other room to start the big inquisition with the siblings, ready to put someone on the racks for this one, but everyone is fast asleep. I look at the clock as the fog starts to clear from my brain. It's nearly a quarter to one a.m. So how did Carino get outside and then lock himself out? I was mystified. Then I discovered a side door unlocked and a chair next to it. Hmmm. Once he got outside this door, there was a step down, so he probably couldn't get back in. I'm glad he eventually thought to go to the front door. He was probably terrified alone in the dark like that.
I put him to bed and soon got him to sleep, but now the sleep was completely gone from my eyes. My mind was going in a million directions. I was thinking of the stories of kids who get out at night in the winter and freeze to death. Thank goodness it was summer. What if it hadn't been? What if he hadn't found the door in the blizzard howling outside? What if he had just curled up on the doorstep to be found frozen like a popsicle the next morning? My teeth started chattering. Out of fear.
What if he had wandered off, or decided to go play at friend's house, or some creepy person were outside and saw him and took him away. What if there just happened to be a burglar looking for a great spot to hit? What would have become of my little boy? Why was he awake anyway? He's my sleeper. Put the guy in a dark room, he's gone in 10 minutes. Why was he so awake? Maybe he was turning into his siblings and was going to stop sleeping at night. Now THAT was a really scary thought!
Why did he even go outside? Oh my gosh! The pool! What if he had gone into the back yard and tried to climb into the pool and got in but then couldn't get out? Eventually he would fall asleep and drown. Now I'm having visions of his little body floating face down in the pool the next morning, when it was eternally too late!
I had to do something. I couldn't let any of these terrible things happen to him or any of the other kids. I started playing the piano. I know, great solution. Don't ask me why, I'm a terrible pianist. I'm not being modest either. Truly, I am a terrible pianist. So terrible that it is preferable to sing a capella in lieu of my accompaniments. I just didn't want to fall asleep until my husband got home.
He was the one with the huge look of confusion on his face when he walked in the door and heard my "music" and I jumped up from the piano bench and told him we had to put another set of latches at a greater height on each door to the outside, ASAP. He didn't do it that night, but he did do it within the next few days. To this day I still don't sleep as easily as before. Yep, I'm scarred for life. How about you?


Cookie said...

That is scarey! I know I don't sleep as well when my husband isn't home. That is also one of the reasons that I like having a security system. The kids can't leave the house without me knowing it. Even during the day when the alarm isn't on, the sytem is set to "beep" whenever a door or window is opened.
Also, (hope I'm not scaring you with this one) having locks that kids can't reach may not help if there is ever a fire.

Elizabeth said...

Oh Wow,
That is frightening.
Snorkie walked at 9 months, and was doing "stairs" by 11!
Since I couldn't follow him around all day, I did two things:
I put the girls in charge of watching him, and I turned him over to his Guardian Angel first thing in the morning. Praise God I haven't lost him yet! I know I couldn't keep him alive.
Pax, EJT

Anonymous said...

gosh....that is scary. I think i would be scarred too!

ali said...

When my babies were about 18 months old, I slept late one morning because, well, they let me. What mom of twins really ever gets to sleep, right? So my sleepy head didn't question it.

Vaguely I thought I heard the front door quietly click.

It took my sleeping brain several long moments to realize that was the front door I'd heard.

I bolted out of bed and looked down the stairwell to the entryway. Door was closed BUT unlocked and the house was strangely quiet. The boys should be awake AND should be noisy.

I dashed to their room, and when I saw they were gone, I barely pulled on my robe before running out the front door, with my husband tugging on his pants barely behind me.

My babies were not there!

We dashed down the street AND AROUND THE CORNER! And there they were, walking hand in hand, saggy nighttime diapers slowing them down, walking down the sidewalk.

Oh man, that was the scarriest time ever to me.

I absolutely agree that short of locking our children in our rooms, you gotta sleep! We ended up putting door chimes on our doors so an alarm would sound if they opened it again - but really, unless you'd experienced that sort of thing, how would you know your child had left the house?

Very scary, indeed.

The Sports Mama said...

Fortunately, we've never experienced anything like that with our boys. But... sleepwalking runs through both sides of our family, mine and Coach's, and each of us has a scary story from when we were little about wandering out of the house and off into the neighborhood. I think that scares me more than if the boys were to have left as little ones. The sleepwalking thing can still happen, even though they're older.

Lijy said...

That was scary but was an eye-opener.
Jason is just 15 months old, and follows me around. And sometimes if i get a little engrossed in my work, i wont know when he left that room and went to any other rooms. That itself scares me, and i go searching for him. Cos you don't know, which chair he is climbing or which switches he fidgeting with and if he goes to the bathroom .

our is a rented house, so we cant baby-proof it. We have to really careful.

thank God Carino was alright, and nothing scary happened with him.

Anonymous said...

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Gerb said...

Oh, the stories I could tell. I will summarize with one story. We lost our then-3-year-old in Indiana during a summer vacation road trip and didn't even realize it. I was packing stuff in the car and a neighbor approached me to ask my help in identifying a lost child she had found wandering around the parking lot. I told her I was not from the area and wouldn't know said child. I went back into my sister-in-law's apartment and realized our kid was not there, ran back outside and found her with half the residents of the apartment complex. The huge group of neighbors gave me some awful looks, probably wondering how I could lose a child and not know it. I felt terrible and was an overprotective mother of all 6 (at the time) kids the rest of our cross-country trip. I think my husband got tired of hearing, "Where's A-? Where's E-? Have you seen K-?"

I am not so quick to judge after that little incident...

shell said...

we spell our names the same! yay!

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

Yes. It's what could have happened that traumatizes us completely. When Rachel was 2, I would lie down with her in my bed to get her to sleep. She would flip and flop and finally doze off and I would sneak out. Later, my husband would go upstairs and pick her up and plop her in her big sister's bed, in the dark. I would come up a couple of hours later and go to bed.

So (there is a point here, hang on), one night I just happened to go back into my bedroom to get something before my husband had moved Rachel. And I just happened to glance over at her. And she just happened to have her right hand above the blankies, with one finger sticking straight out, fully visible. The finger that she had somehow managed to wrap her little hair elastic around so tightly that the tip of the finger was already a bloodless white.

Luckily we found her in time and the fingertip hadn't "died." But normally, Larry would have walked in there in the dark, scooped her up, dumped her in the other room, and no one would have known there was anything wrong until the next morning. And that is the scenario that kept playing over and over in my head. I was so hysterical that night, Larry almost called the doctor (I was pregnant and couldn't drink, which might have helped a bit). I felt like one of those cartoon characters who runs off a cliff and is just fine until he looks down. I had just "looked down" and realized that, no matter how careful we are, something weirdly tragic can happen.

Don't even ask me about the time I mistakenly left a sleeping 3-year-old in the car for 45 minutes on a 90-degree day. I have to take Valium if I even start thinking about it.

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

Okay, I just read the other comments. I think I'll go take that Valium now.

Kellan said...

That is scary! I never had any of mine get out of the house, but I've had them get into Nyquil and stuff while I was asleep - you can't watch them every second of the day. I'm glad your little one was okay and it wasn't a worse situation - how smart to go to the front dooR!

Have a good evening, Shellie - nice to see you - Kellan

Anna Maria Junus said...

Okay, I've survived seven little ones and I have stories.

Now that they're older I have to worry about other things.

And teenagers can sneak out at night.

Karen said...

Ack! I think I'd be scarred, too.

mommeeof9 said...

I have a friend who put a lock on the outside of her sons bedroom door, as her boys would wander at night. They live on a busy city street.

carrie & troy keiser said...

Holy scariness! I have fears of something like that happening, ya know kid gets confused and walks out the front door never to be seen again. I'd like to think I'd hear the door, but the truth is that I wouldn't and don't..... sometimes my husband comes home from work in the middle of the night and I don't hear him. Scary for sure!

caramama said...

That is really scary! I'm glad we have an alarm that chimes when the outside doors open. My 15 month old is almost turning doorknobs, and I'm worried.

Also, I was a wanderer and would wander off from my parents. I'm hoping that karma doesn't bless me with the same in a child. heh.