This has been a four letter word in our house since Monchichi began to walk. When he first graduated from crawling, we had no idea what was in store. Even prior to his official autism diagnosis, we knew things weren’t going according to plan. He began to elope instantly; the more you wanted him to stay close by, the faster he would take off. And we learned very early on that shouting “STOP” somehow made his usual clumsy gait much faster. It was the magic word that would refuel him.
Going anywhere beyond our bolted front door became a liability. It is still a problem today; one we take very seriously. He is taller now, and much faster. He has greater purpose in each stride he takes. He is more curious about his surroundings.
He has no idea that a street full of moving cars is dangerous.
The only reason he is respectful of heights is because he’s fallen off a jungle gym or two. He has learned through experience.
He has no idea that a stranger with a big smile and soft words is a potential kidnapper.
These are all very abstract concepts for a very concrete little boy.
These are all things that he cannot just “experience” and learn from.
So we have to protect him. Protect him from what he doesn’t know and doesn’t understand.
And in the meantime, he elopes like I eat.
Everyday, quickly, often.
I should be in much better shape just from chasing after him whenever we are anywhere that is bigger than the shoe closet.
I know people will wonder about us if I try to stuff him into the front of a grocery cart at the age of 16, so we work super hard during therapy, going on community outings, Monchichi and his entourage. If I take too long picking out the perfect seasonal fruit, he’s halfway to the UPS store down the street. His therapist could have, maybe should have, called CPS a long time ago. But she is sweet and presses on, trying to get us to master the latest goal: Not losing my firstborn son.
Recently, after a particularly hairy afternoon, I came home and unpacked the groceries, only to find that in my haste to locate my disappearing child, I purchased $150.00 worth of canned tuna, batteries and beets. None of which were on my grocery list. You can see how this particular “habit” of his can become quite costly.
Over the years we have tried everything, except a leash. Strollers, gates, doorknob covers, and intricate barricades have all seen their doom when our determined monchichi decides it’s time to exit the area.
Does anyone know if Alcatraz is for sale? Isn’t that place airtight?
In all seriousness though, aside from updating our security features within and around the house, how much control do we really have? Someday he will tower over us and I am not prepared to wrestle him to the ground if he decides to chase after a big rig.
Ah. But that is way too far into the future for me.
I like staying right here. In first-grade fairy tale land.
Where the children are smaller, more predictable, NOT going through puberty.
I am just going to sit right here for a bit.
Until that is, I have to chase him down again.