This morning, I hit the snooze one too many times before getting up to get Alex ready. We have a new song to sing in the morning at wake up time, it goes like this: "school bus, school bus, yeah, yeah, yeah!" We sang the song and giggled about where he was going as I got him dressed. At 7:40, my alarm went off and we headed to the front porch to wait for the school bus. He happy stimmed all the way across the yard and met his bus driver and aide with a big smile and a "hi, there!"
I smiled walking back from the bus stop and stood on the front porch for a few minutes longer for the chance to heckle the middle schoolers on the way to their bus stop.
I came in and started the Goofy Child's count down. "30 minutes until your bus comes."
I sat at the computer to check my stuff and things got away from me. At 8:04, I realized there was an eerie absence of sound. My heart stops. Oh, God, where's Alex? I looked up at his room, where the gate was open- meaning he wasn't still asleep. Yes, he sleeps late, sorry, but he does. I start to jump up to check the doors when I remember he went to school today.
I put the Goofy One on his bus and come home. I like to relax in the mornings before I get to work. Usually, it's the computer. I read blogs or play games or follow threads in groups. and out of nowhere, my heart stops. Where is Alex?
I come home from running errands with my husband. Standing in the kitchen, I can tell something's wrong. My chest fills with dread, Where is Alex?
I come in from smoking, I find my husband and Thing1 in the kitchen. The front door is open. My heart stops. It's ok, He's at school.
Today, I was invited to a Facebook event, Candle Light Vigil for Autistic Children Who Lost Their Lives After Wandering. This is hard for me because without constant vigilance, and sometimes even in spite of constant vigilance, there is a very large possibility that Alex could end up here. We've already had so many close calls. Too close. Looking at these children's faces, knowing the stories since I followed a lot of them as they were happening... I ache for these children, for their parents, and I am terrified for Alex.
It gets to be time to get the kids, I meet the Goofy Child's bus and talk to him on the way home. I send him inside while I wait for Alex. 3:53. 3:54. 3:55. Where is Alex? I sent him to school. 3:56. I'm sure I sent him to school. 3:57. Was that today? For sure today? 3:58. Did I just forget I was supposed to watch him? When could I have lost him? 3:59. The nurse called about impetigo. That was today. 4:00. The bus was late. I walk him in the house, asking how his day was and if he had fun.
It's supper time and Alex can't be trusted around cooking food. Last time I tried that, I accidentally backhanded him in the mouth trying to keep his hand out of a pot of boiling water. Never again. When we are cooking, Alex is behind a gate. Today, he's in the living room with Walter.
While my husband cooks and Walter hangs with Alex, I go smoke. I come in and start to check on Alex when my husband distracts me with an empty basket. I take the basket downstairs to switch the laundry before coming back up. I check the gate, it's open.
"Where is Alex?" "I don't know," he says. I can tell from the smug it's your child, you should know where he is smirk on his face that Walter knows where he is and he thinks I'm either being an irresponsible or ridiculously overprotective mother. I ask again with more emphasis (meaning with additional words) where Alex is. Walter, still being his smug teenage self, gives me the same answer. "I don't know." I lost it. It's not funny, it's not irresponsibility, it's not overprotectiveness, it's real.
It is a real, literal life and death situation.
I completely lost it. Telling him the statistics, the children, the stories. I made him put faces with the names as I told him how each and every one of them died after wandering away from their home because for two seconds, no one knew where they were. It's not funny, it's not irresponsibility, it's not ridiculously overprotective, it's our life. It could cost Alex's life. My husband came in and tried to get me to calm down, which made it even worse. He said I should know where Alex is, Alex didn't want to be in the living room, he wanted to go to his room. He said I take things too far, and I lost it on him. It's not too far. Somewhere they need to understand how real the danger is.
Then I went outside and cried like a baby.
I cried for Alex, I cried for me, I cried for Walter. I cried for these children, their families, and the total unfairness of all of it. I cried for the lack of understanding, the judgment that each and every one of them face when their children wander. The question is always, "where were you?" Sometimes, the answer is I just took the basket downstairs. Sometimes, the answer is no one took me seriously.
On April 1, 2014, please use this graphic and spread it as far and as wide as you can. Post it to your wall, use it as your avatar, post it to your friends' walls and group and pages, tweet it, pin it, do whatever you can think of so that people will remember the children who have died after an elopement.
|"A note: This event is not about placing blame or even to talk about solutions. |
The sole purpose of what I created this for is to simply
remember the children who have died."