Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Well, the day came we were hoping wouldn't.

Over the weekend, Joey and I went for a walk. We were sort of heading for the Memorial Day Illumination, but instead we met some of teh kids across the street and had some impromptu social interaction. Joey really enjoyed himself, and the trucks, and the bikes, and the kids, and can't wait until we "go for a walk" again. I also had fun, because I actually got to talk to other moms and dads, some of which have been int eh neighborhood a while, and I've never spoken to. Crossing the street is a big deal with two small kids, and we don't do it very much.

Today, he kept talking about a blue truck. He has lots of trucks and cars, and every time we found one that was blue, it was offered, and turned down. After speech, I took the baby upstairs for a nap, and mom took Joey outside for a ride on the tricycle, where I joined them, and yet another round of "want blue truck." He opened the back door and went into the house. "Are you getting your truck?" I asked casually. "Yes," he replied, and into the house he went.

Mom and I chatted abotu some local news, friends not doing so well, the allergist appointment tomorrow. The doorbell rang.

Not expecting anyone, I looked up. I can se right through the house from where I was sitting, back door to front- it is one of the reasons I habitually sit there. The door was open. A woman was coming into the house, following Joey. It was an odd sight, and about fifteen things raced through my mind- how did Joey get the door open? Who is this? Did we have therapy today and I forgot? No, its Tuesday. And why did they come to the door? Is Joey letting a stranger into the house? Does she need help?

I was to the door when my brain turned on and recognized my across-the-street neighbor, and the words emerging from her mouth. You guessed it, didn't you?

"He was in the middle of the street..."

Heading across the street, to get the blue truck he had played with days ago, which actually belonged to the little boy whose mother was telling me that she asked Joey where his mommy was, and he had said, "outside" but she didn't see me, so she brought him back across the street...

He was in the middle of the street.

My street is not a hustle-bustle big city disaster, but it is a bit of an artery across town, often taken slightly too fast by us townies. He could have very easily have been hit.

We lock our doors out of habit mostly, from living in places liek Charlottesville, where people were known to walk into homes while people were home and steal stuff or attack them. With Joey's new and unpredictable fondness for wandering off, we have taken this habit to heart. Usually we keep the key to the front door on a high hook. He can work keys, but since he can't reach the key, this has been our current compromise of keeping him locked down, while not being a major fire hazard. However, my mom had left her keys in the lock while she watched Andy (while Joey and I went to therapy). Those keys remained in the lock when I came home. Joey wanted to go across the street to get the truck, so he just turned the key and was gone.

The main problem now is that the back door does not have the double-key bolt, and he can work all the locks and latches I added to it now. Worse, he has actual motivation to leave the house, and determination to do so= we'll hear about this truck for days, maybe weeks. He has a reason to go across the street, and no concept of improper hour of night, danger of the street, and despite our best efforts and lectures, no concept of the reasons he can't just go across the street, walk into someone's house, and get what he thinks is his.

The locksmith comes on Friday. Until then, we have barricaded the back door. We're also seriously looking into alarms. At least we'd know if he opened a door.



What about this angle?

Joeymom said...

We've actualy been considering this for a while. There was another family near here that uses this, and not too long ago, the kid wandered off following a dog, and they managed to find him, pretty quickly.

But it won't keep him from being hit by a car int eh street.

kristina said...

The bell/alarm is a good idea. We had one on the front and back doors of our old house. Being the ABA person I am, I've focused on praising Charlie for "staying on the sidewalk," "staying in the yard," etc., along with an explanation of why it's dangerous to be in the street. I did find it hard to keep hiding the key---we had a deadbolt and it could only be opened with the key and inevitably someone noticed where it might be kept....... This got better for Charlie as he got older. And perhaps, too, as I stoppe being quite so hysterical when he stepped anywhere near the street.

Mary P Jones (MPJ) said...


How very scary! My son has run away a few times when we are taking walks outside the house. It's terrifying.

Niksmom said...

OMG, that would be my worst fear. It's not an issue for us yet but I foresee Nik as being a "runner". He doesn't respond to the sound of the car horn right now, either.

I'm sure you've got lots of resources to look into alarms and such. Is there any way you could lobby for a combination of a "Slow" sign (you know the one with the kids playing) AND some speed bumps in the road. My cousin, a cop, tells me those would both be good "traffic calming" measures. I'm sure you are already working on the whole street-safety thing with Joey.

GOOD LUCK! Let us know what solutions you come up with...I'm sure we could all benefit from the knowledge.

Philip. said...

Thank God he is OK and nothing happened.

love4yavanie said...

I have actually been through something worse, my 12yr old left the house while everyone was sleeping to go and visit his father 3 blocks away at 4am. I was awakened by a phone call from his father saying that he had a special visitor..