Nik is working a lot of overtime lately so I've been stuck without my much-needed, much-loved, much-taken-for-granted partner in parenting. I've also been stuck with the children. I hate to use the word stuck, because I love them and I know I'd never just leave them by the side of the road or anything, but sometimes I would just like to know what it is like not to have a conversation with someone other than myself while sitting on the toilet. So in that sense, yeah, I feel a little stuck.
I was also feeling a bit in that way today when we came home from the grocery store. Sami was having a fit because the man at the grocery store gave both boys a balloon on a stick and he desperately needed to have both of them. He needed them much in the same was as he needed more room in the fire truck shaped grocery cart that the two boys rode in and two bags of candy not just one. And he needed those as much as he needed not that glass but the other glass and not that apple but a different one. Each of his needs throughout the day -- and there were many, many of them, were punctuated by loud wailing and occasional bouts of throwing himself to the ground. In an effort to limit the amount of crying that would take place between unloading the car and nap time I decided to work with Sami rather than against him. And that, I tell you, is no easy task. It involves a lot of dialog and every explanation ends in "Why?"
So I parked Sami's butt on the counter, put the groceries away, started to figure out what I could fix the two boys for lunch and found myself also half lost in thought. I wondered: Is it normal that he talks so much? He never stops. I never met another two year old who talks so much. Maybe there is something wrong with him. Should I ask the speech pathologist about it the next time I see her? How can I complain about one kid who talks too much when I've got another who won't talk at all? But really, he talks so much I.can't.think. I just really can't think.
And then I heard a voice and knew in an instant, even before the voice in the hallway said what followed hello.
Oh my god. How could I be so stupid?! I raced into the hallway, the man's face barely registering and as I sprinted past him and heard him say: "We found a boy wandering in the street. We've got him. He's safe. Don't worry."
I looked up the street and saw Oliverr walking with a young, college-aged woman. He was still clutching he Popsicle box that he had insisted that I empty of its contents and give to him.
I had left the front door propped wide open so that I could carry the groceries in. And later I even saw Oliver come in from the back yard and head towards the front of the house. But we never leave the front door unlocked. Never. So I didn't even think about it. And I guess I've gotten a little bit relaxed, too. Oliver doesn't run off like he used to. He doesn't try to scale the fence or dart into the road. He is pretty happy to stay in the yard.
As I sat weeping, holding Oliver on the curb and waiting for my legs to stop shaking, I thanked the college students who live next door to us. So many of them have come and gone since we moved to our street five years ago that I didn't even know their names. I had seen them. They seemed nice. But mostly I hoped they would be quiet and that they wouldn't hog all the street parking on the block.
"No problem," the young man said. "We'll keep an eye out for him."
Yes, I told him. I will two.