I've gotten into a weird habit of thinking about my life as a blog entry. Here's the entry I was thinking about writing last weekend, while/instead of actually living my life:
UP: I was able to take both boys on their bikes to the school playground. A did an excellent job staying with me, waiting, not crossing the street without me, and stopping as I stayed VERY close to B.
DOWN: Shortly after we arrived at the school playground, B threw his shoe (up) over the fence, where it fell (down) into the neighbors' back yard. I make B ride his bike home with only one shoe on, while I hold onto the back of his shirt because I no longer trust him to listen to me at all.
UP: Luckily, A continues to listen, wait and stay with me.
Then I dump the kids back home, wake T from a (very brief) nap, and drive back to the school to try to figure out where B's shoe is. I really don't want to lose this shoe because another shoe (from a different pair) is still waiting on his school roof (where B threw it last week) until the janitor has a chance to climb up there and retrieve it (along with all the other things, including a watering can, that B has thrown up there). So I drive around the block of mansions (literally mansions) and finally figure out which one probably belongs to the backyard where I think the shoe landed. The door bell is located outside a wrought iron gate, attached to a speaker system that calls into the house. Thankfully I see some children's toys in the yard and am hopeful that an understanding mom opens the door. Not the case, but a handsome and extremely nice man instructs me to go around to the side gate that I can open and look for the shoe. He comes out in his PJs to help me look, casually explaining that he was watching football and not to worry. We chat a bit as we hunt through his backyard for the shoe, which is camaflage green in color. Eventually he finds it and I'm on my way.
I decide to take just A with me so he can finish enjoying his bike ride, because I want to reinforce his positive behavior and let B understand the consequence of his actions. And because I need a break from B.
UP: A and I head to the office park by the bay. This is one of the places where I take the boys when I'm alone with them and need to get out of the house. They don't necessarily behave here, but there are usually so few people around that it doesn't matter as much. A is really happy to be here. He hops on his bike and takes off along the path. I walk behind, keeping an eye on him. He gets to the first circle, and comes back towards me. Good, I think, he understands that he needs to stay close enough to me so I can see him, and he understands that he may need to backtrack if I start lagging behind. "Let's go down to the next circle" I say to him.
DOWN: A heads down the path, but DOESN'T turn into the next circle, like I expected him to, and like we usually do when we are all on foot. HE KEEPS GOING. At this point, I this point I start calling his name loudly, but he is too far ahead and doesn't hear. I start running. A is fast on his bike, and the distance between us continues to grow. I shout out, but he doesn't hear me. I lose sight of him. I panic. I run out of breath and have to stop running. I ask passersby, "Have you seen a little boy on a bike go by?!?" They say say, and indicate that he headed further down the path. I catch my breath and start off at a run again. I think I see his pale yellow shirt ahead in the distance. I cup my hands and yell as loud as I can. No response. The wind carries my voice across the salt flats. The pale yellow dot goes around the bend and I lose visual contact again. I ask more dog-walkers if they've seen a little boy on a bike. Yeah, about 5 minutes ago he went that way. Couldn't be that long ago, could it? I panic more, and try to run faster. I can't run any faster. I can't see my kid. I try to make up time/distance by cutting through the parking lot. I panic even more, as I realize he might stay on the sidewalk and head down towards the freeway. I ask the guy on rollerblades if he saw a little boy on a bike, with a red helmet. "What?" he replies. I panic more, I am losing time, I can't see my son, which way did he go?!? I run more, in a seemingly random direction. I think I glimpse his shirt way down the path. I pant as I ask another stranger if he's seen my son, and keep running, and keep yelling. I'm totally out of breath. I hope he stops when he gets back to the bay. OMG what if he goes into the bay>!>! He won't go into the bay, we come here fairly often and he's never gone into the bay, he'll stop at the car, he'll stop back at the first circle, shit, I don't see him. I ask the folks who are fishing if they've seen a little boy on a bike. The girl says, "yes, he went by half an hour ago with a big smile on his face." My voice gets a high pitched nervous edge to it, "Half an hour? When I was with him? Have you seen him just now?!?" "No", the man replied. "How did you lose him?" Mouth agape, I point to my feet, "He's faster than me!" The man dropped his fishing pole, "I'll help you look for him. Will he know where to stop?" I thank him, and shake my head. The girl wants to go with him, but he tells her to stay. "If you see him, tell him "stop" Tell him to wait right here for mama." I have a split second debate about whether I try to explain to this family that my son has autism. I decide not to waste my breath on that, and run back to my car (which I should have done 15 minutes ago) and start to drive along the path with my windows wide open shouting his name. Finally I see him heading towards me on his bike. I swerve towards him and slam on my brakes. I almost hit a car riding along side A -- it's the fisherman, who found him first and was accompanying A back towards me. I am grateful. I am so incredibly relieved. A sees that I am upset, I see that he is not. I try not to yell at him. I think he really didn't realize that my expectation was that he would stay close to me. He knew where he was, and was happy riding his bike. He was not worried. I was just about as scared as I've ever been. Well, maybe it was on par with the time B ran down the ravine by squid's house. But at least then I had my friends there to help me - this time I was reliant on strangers and not thinking fast enough, not acting fast enough. I try a few short sentences of explanation to A, "You need to stay with Mama. You have to make sure I can see you, and you can see me. I was really scared. I didn't know where you were. I couldn't see you." He senses I'm upset. But doesnt really understand. We buckle up, and go on our way.