At the end of our ten minute saga, Oliver came trotting barefoot down the main isle at Target, trailed by two red-shirted employees with amused looks on their faces.
But before that moment, there were the 9.5 moments when I didn't know where Oliver was. There was the ONE SECOND when I looked from the boy next to me to the rack of shoes that I scanned for his size. When I looked back, he was gone. I raced to the end of the isle. I sprinted up and down the rest of the isles of the shoe department calling his name in what I hoped was not an hysterical voice. Then I sprinted back, grabbed Sami and raced for the customer service department where I promptly burst into tears. "Please, help me find my son!" Then, in a rush of words I described Oliver and told them that he had autism and that he can't talk and that he wouldn't respond if they called his name."
I think back to those moments and wonder why I was so extremely upset. Obviously, Oliver had run away. I say this because he's been doing this lately when we go to stores -- especially to Target. I'm aware enough to know that it is his burgeoning desire for independence working against my extremely tight control over him. I give Sami far more freedom than Oliver and I know it is wrong but then again, impulse control is not something that I worry about with Sami. But here we were at Target. I was reasonably sure that he wasn't going to be carried off somewhere, that he wouldn't get hurt and that he would be returned to me. But there are lots of places we could be where I wouldn't be so sure of those same things and so I always keep an eagle eye on him. It is my worst fear.
So Oliver had his little adventure. I learned a valuable lesson. And it all turned out OK. I'm pretty sure this won't be the last time for something like this. I just hope it doesn't happen again any time soon. I don't think my nerves could handle it.