Whine: It’s official. Brother Bear is walking. And with each small step he breaks a little piece of my heart and (probably soon) my china.
Cheese: He may have also finally called me Mama today, although it may have been an accident since he reverted to calling me Dada five minutes later. That’s ok, I’ll take it.
Once last summer, desperate for some new, air-conditioned haunts, Mr. Dad and I hauled all three kids to the downtown library. The library itself is a wonder to behold–one of the few attractively-designed libraries in our fair city (the rest seemed to have been initially designed as brick fortresses and/or prisons). We wandered around and looked at books, shushed Brother Bear (who was a wee, tiny thing at the time) and utilized the arts and crafts table (all-you-can-squeeze glue!!).
At some point Mr. Dad and I went our separate ways and when we regrouped and did a quick head count we realized that Lil’ Sis had gone AWOL. There was a brief round of “I-thought-you-had-her” tag, with no clear winner and off we ran, calling her name and straining our necks around each set of shelves to no avail. We got the librarians involved, much to my humiliation. (Was this before or after I’d had to call them to clean up someone’s potty accident? I can’t remember.) Eventually we found our little red-haired runaway closed in one of the study rooms. We scooped her up and kissed her and told her to always stay with her Mommy and Daddy.
Little did I know this was going become A Thing. Lil’ Sis, while terrified of thunder and automatic toilets, has no fear of being lost. And also, once she’s lost, she tends to totally and completely lose her common sense.
So then a few weeks ago, I was frantically running around trying to get some dinner made so I could take it over to a friend who needed a meal and I was totally in that Mommy zone where you no longer register outside information. Lil’ Sis had been bugging me all day to go to her cousin LizzieBear’s house and I’d been putting her off. I told her we couldn’t go right now and that settled that, or so I thought. (Hint: Foreshadowing)
So as I made dinner, I was running inside and out because I was Being All Healthy and using the grill (which, incidentally, I am not afraid of anymore. Yay, Me!). And Lil’ Sis was going back and forth between outside and inside as well, so I knew that she was possibly outside. The next time I went out, I looked in the playhouse for her and she wasn’t there. So I checked to make sure she hadn’t buckled herself into the baby swing and gotten stuck. No luck. I figured she had snuck next door onto the neighbors trampoline, but my neighbor Dora was outside and said she wasn’t there.
My heart rate started to pick up and I’ll be honest, I said some words to myself that were less than lovely. I ran back in the house and starting opening and slamming doors in search for her. Brother Bear started hollering (probably related to the door slamming) Mr. Dad stared at me bleary-eyed from his nap (he’d worked a late shift the night before) when I told him I couldn’t find her. We ran around in and outside yelling her name.
Panic set in. We live four houses away from a major interstate. My mind was flipping through it’s catalog of Horrible Things I’ve Seen on After-School Specials. I thought I might vomit. Instead I prayed. Hard.
Mr. Dad grabbed screaming Brother Bear and started walking down the street while I headed the other way with Dora. Finally, she pointed me in the direction of Mr. Dad and I saw the best thing I’ve ever seen in my life: Mr. Dad walking up the street with Brother Bear in one arm and Lil’ Sis in the other. I tell you, Martin Scorcese couldn’t have set up a more poignant shot.
I ran to my sweet, crying little angel and squeezed the oxygen right out of her. Our other neighbors had been driving home from work and spotted her in a yard some TEN houses down, just standing there crying. The had driven on, seen Mr. Dad and pointed him in the right direction. I was so thankful, I ambushed those construction workers in a hug that only a Mama Bear can give.
Once we all settled down, we got the full story. Since I had denied her request, Lil’ Sis had decided to walk to LizzieBear’s house alone. Granted, they only live about six blocks away and she WAS headed in the right direction. . . But Mr. Dad and Lil’ Sis went into the other room and had a long talk. I poked my head in a few minutes later and she was fast asleep–worn completely out by her misadventures.
I love my little middle-child, and sometimes she gets overlooked or lost in the shuffle. Those terrifying ten minutes have taught me a lesson I won’t soon forget: Beware of the quiet ones, they’re usually up to something.