It was an ordinary weekend morning, Tony outside back doing yard work, me still in PJs in “slow-mo.” Sam was busy multitasking with assorted electronics in his room.
The phone rang. I chatted for a minute or two and hug up and then glanced in Sam’s room to check on him. No Sam. I looked downstairs and found the garage door wide open. My heart sank. “Tony!” I yelled. “He’s gone!” We covered the yard. No luck. I ran into the garage, hopped in my car to look on the street. Tony ran down in the opposite direction.
About 4 houses down, I spotted Sam. He was straddling his bike, a bike he hadn’t learned to ride. He awkwardly made his way down the sidewalk. He was dressed in what I’ve come to think of as his running away outfit: a tee shirt, underwear on backwards and barefoot. Relieved to see him, I pulled up along side. Rolling down the window I calmly asked, “Where are you going?" With is eyes focused on the sidewalk he answered, “Dunkin' Donuts. Choket munchkins.” He continued to walk. His refusal to make eye contact showed his determination.
He kept walking and I slowly followed along.
A thousand thoughts rushed through my mind. What if I hadn't found him so quickly? What made him wander this day? Why the bike? Would he have actually made the mile walk to Dunkin' Donuts? What's with the backwards underwear? How did he plan to pay for the munchkins with no pockets in that outfit?
Finally I asked, “Would you like a ride?” He paused for bit, still unwilling to look at me and laid his bike on the curb. And then he sat, refusing to move. I parked and waited. After a few minutes I walked over and sat with him on the curb. We sat and we sat barefoot in our underwear and PJs, knowing one false move would result in a bolt into the woods.
Sam hung onto his self-control. He threw pebbles methodically into a nearby catch basin. I followed suit. It was inexplicably calming. Finally, he looked up a little teary eyed saying, “Sorry Mommy,” “Sam, if you want something, you just have to ask.” I said. “Can I go a Dunkin' donuts please?” he replied.
Any other day I would have set some small penance to re-enforce you don't leave home alone. But this day I couldn’t. It didn’t feel right.
“You know Sam, I think just for today we can.” I said. “Let’s get in the car.” His face began to brighten as we got in the car. We found Tony. As I sent him to retrieve Sam’s bike he asked where we were going. I said, “Sam, tell him!” and together we yelled, ”Dunkin' Donuts!”
“Dressed like that?” Tony asked. “Yup. That’s why they invented the drive-thru.” And off we went: me in my PJs and Sam in his backwards underwear. And it was good.
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