On Christmas day, I let John have a very long leash: Walking the dog.
But I forgot something hugely important.
I forgot my words.
And so, I ended up seeking help from a 911 dispatcher (she was very kind) and seven (7) deputies in a local search.
It started when Mom handed John the leash with a dog attached, and said to take Spike for a walk.
It was a beautiful day, and he needed a brain re-boot from too much holiday TV.
I watched them meander down the street and turn right, out of sight.
I then realized I hadn’t actually said out-loud to come back at the stop sign.
(Also John didn’t say, “Mom, there is a secret path I know of, and I am coming home that way.”)
John has become an excellent boomerang, and so I waited a few moments.
Still nothing back in sight.
So I tried to catch up with them.
In my pajamas and bare feet.
In a very visible-to-the-neighborhood way.
About ten minutes later, I decided I needed professional help.
My bellowing, my questioning of everyone I met, my searching up and down the streets hadn’t found them.
I came back to the house to use the toilet and check in with my teenager.
Still with the dispatcher on the phone.
I opened the door, and found John and Spike back safely at home.
John was playing on the Nintendo, like any other day.
So what did I learn? That there was a secret path in the neighborhood I didn’t know about.
And now I do.
My teenager had taught John how to make a lap with Spike and how to come back home that way.
And that is what he had done.
Like a big boy.
Like a neuro-typical approach to a chore.
Seems I was was the only one who didn’t know of the secret path.
We thanked all the professionals for their rapid response.
Then we walked the same circuit together, with John and Spike as leaders.
Again, what did I learn?
Say things out loud. Get a plan for meeting up, if we are going to allow for an independent journey.
(I do this when we part for public bathrooms or shopping in the store. I just forgot that day with the dog.)
The sheriff who stopped by the house suggested a wristwatch tracking device or sending a cell phone with him.
All good ideas to check into.
And we shall continue to practice with this walking-the-dog-independence, with all the risks it brings.
Peace be with us,