1st Place goes to Kiri at The Dust Season for the “A Happily-Ever-After Story Involving Break-Ins and Police Action”. It takes a village to raise a child, but those villages often wait to show themselves. At just the right moment…
She was sent one Green Study Coffee Mug, a postcard from Minneapolis and $100 donation was made to the American Red Cross on her behalf.
“A Happily-Ever-After Story Involving Break-Ins and Police Action”
By Kiri at The Dust Season
My son is an escape artist. He revels in finding ways around the protective
prison cocoon of his home life. This would be fine, if my son were normal. But he isn’t and this story isn’t. So, before everyone gets up in arms about my use of the word ‘normal’ in relation to my son, let me get one thing straight: something beyond ordinary happened—and that’s okay.
I am coming to terms with the fact my autistic son is getting older, bigger, faster—and let’s be honest—smarter than I am. He recognizes that, by the end of the week, mommy is flat out exhausted and lacking in due diligence. This has led to several problematic incidents involving the police.
Before my mother-in-law left to go back to sunny (drought ridden) California, we were enjoying a last Masterpiece Theater. We were snuggled on the couch waiting for Inspector Lewis to figure out who dunnit when there was a knock at the door.
Argh, fifteen minutes to the end….
As I approach the door, I spy the red and blue lights flashing against the windows. This does not clue me in. I open the door to find an officer standing there.
“Ma’am, don’t you answer your phone?” The officer says.
“Uh, we don’t have a home phone, just a cell phone.” I say, nonplused.
(Note: No alarm bells are ringing yet. I haven’t had this pleasure before.)
His next question sets off alarm bells aplenty.
“Do you have a son?”
*DING! DING! DING!*
I scream my son’s name, whip around to go search the house despite the quite apparent evidence he—like Elvis—has left the building.
“Ma’am. Ma’am. I need you to calm down.”
I’m frantically grabbing shoes, my purse, my phone which has been in my bedroom recharging, but the officer won’t let me leave until I am no longer hyperventilating.
“Your son is fine. A neighbor called it in.”
Turns out my son was visiting a cul-de-sac two blocks east and north of our home. It’s a favorite route of his when we take walks. Someone at that address saw my son and realized how odd it was to see a boy scribbling on paper squatting in someone’s driveway at 10:30 p.m.
I follow the officer in my car, we get to the location where another officer is waiting with my son. He didn’t restrain him, just walked with the boy until mom arrived.
A conversation ensues in which I learn they figured out who my non-verbal child was because of a piece of paper he had in his hand which had his name scrawled on it. They called the local principal who helped to identify my son through process of elimination.
This would be a feel good story, if it ended here. This alone, this interaction in which nothing bad happened despite the unlimited opportunity would be enough. But no, my son discovered his super power and he is now making the most of it.
Two more times, since this one, my son has escaped my hawk-like surveillance.* All of these times coincide with Sundays when I am tired, distracted, and just a little too grateful that he is being ‘quiet’ and ‘good’ when actually he is breaking into the local church and, then, two weeks ago, a neighbor’s home—a neighbor we don’t know.
This is where true serendipity comes in.
My twelve-year-old, who is big enough to no longer have the automatic cute appeal of a child, entered a stranger’s home. The stranger was alone at home with her small child and a dog.
I promise you, I have spent many nerve wracked hours imagining what could have happened. What might have happened. What didn’t happen.
Instead, the woman contacted the police. The police contacted me because they have my son’s information on file and now are getting to know him. The woman even took her dog outside because my son seemed upset. The woman was not mad, did not blame me and even tried to console me. I was never made to feel like I was a bad parent because I couldn’t keep track of my child.
In a world that is so very eager to tell you the worst case scenario, where autistic children die from wandering, where the police react before recognizing a special needs situation, it felt important to share that sometimes things turn out okay. And that’s simply extraordinary.
Asterisk Bedazzled Footnote:
*If by hawk-like surveillance you mean geriatric, near-sighted-buzzard-distracted-by-carrion awareness.
The author has now installed a door alarm which shrieks like a demented banshee whenever the rear door is opened so much as a sliver. It is the most beautiful, heart-attack-inducing sound you will ever hear.
Congratulations Kiri (for winning and for your new door alarms)!
Here’s The Dust Season Sampler: