Friday, January 16, 2009

In Which My Son Goes Missing

Jo went away on a three-day retreat this week, leaving me in charge of the kids. On my own.

You need to know that I have the necessary character-traits to be an academic don (merely lacking the necessary ability and application).

On the first day, I had to collect Susannah and one of her friends from their after-school gymnastics club, which obviously entailed taking Noah and Elijah along with me.

When we got home again, I parked the pushchair under the carport, and came back out through the gate to let everyone in through the front door. As I was unlocking the door, my phone rang. The kids pushed past me and disappeared upstairs, as I juggled answering Jo with getting into the house. As she chatted away, telling me about her room and who was in the room next door (see – I do listen…sometimes) Noah crashed back down the stairs demanding drinks and an after school snack. Jo asked to talk with him; then I sorted out cups of squash and cupcakes in the kitchen, and shouted for the kids to come downstairs – I didn’t want them taking drinks upstairs. The girls were already lying on Susannah’s loft-bed, engrossed with her DS, so getting them to come downstairs wasn’t straightforward. Eventually they appeared.

The washing machine light was flashing on and off, so I emptied it out and went to hang the contents on the airer to dry. Elijah started shouting “Dah-dee! Dah-DEE!

Hang on – I’m just hanging out the washing!” I called back. He’d probably got stuck climbing the bookshelf: he can’t topple it, and it’s not that high.

Dah-dee! Hang on!

Job done, I set off upstairs to help him out: not in the boys’ room; not with the other three in susannah’s room; not in my room, the bathroom, the toilet. I go back downstairs. Not in the living room, the dining room (I checked, even though I’d just been in there hanging up clothes), the kitchen, the hall.

I go back upstairs. “Where’s Elijah?” “We don’t know.” “He’s not here.” “I think he’s downstairs.”

I do the circuit again, this time looking behind curtains, the sofa. He’s stopped calling: perhaps he’s playing a hiding game. No Elijah.

Back upstairs. Where’s Elijah? “We don’t know.” Unimpressed by the lack of cooperation I’m getting, I go round again a third time. (Because, obviously, a child who isn’t there will always appear if you look enough times…)

By now, I’m starting to get a little stressed-out. After all, at a similar age, while on holiday in Kentucky, Noah had let himself out through the front door of our hosts’ house, and headed off down the sidewalk early one morning. Our host happened to look out of his window, and thought to himself, “That little boy looks just like Noah…wait a minute - it is Noah!”

Guys. I-need-to-find-Elijah!” and, deeply frustrated by their indifference,
“Thanks. For. Your. Help.” I call back over my shoulder…
“I think you didn’t bring him inside,” responds Noah. Now. Not the first time I asked. Now!

I run downstairs,
unlock the kitchen door,
and there,
strapped in his pushchair,
sat, all on his own in the cold and by-now dark,
tear-tracks down his cheeks,
is my boy.

When she got home, Susannah’s friend told her mum and dad all about it:
“…He even said thank you to us for helping to look for Elijah. But he didn’t mean it.”
Which is as beautifully funny a description of child-meets-sarcasm as you could care to find.

It goes without saying that I blame Jo, for distracting me at just the wrong moment. And that Susannah’s friend isn’t welcome anymore.

On the second day, I failed to notice that Elijah had removed his shoes when I collected him from his pre-school group at college…

Shoes (I say, shrugging my shoulders).I consider ‘shoes’ to be somewhat of a triumphant storming up the learning curve!


  1. Awwwww, poor little Elijah, bless.

    That reminds me - we need more piccies of your children on FB or here or wherever.

  2. Best bet, my flickr. Though I need to take some more recent ones anyway.

  3. Haaaa! Andrew! That story was classic. As a parent of 4, I can relate. I know the growing feeling of panic as you look, look, call, go down the street, to all the neighbors, NOWHERE! Then you find him under a pile of covers, asleep in his bed. That's one of my "losing Conor" stories. Fortunately for you it wasn't cold there like it is here today. Peace.

  4. LOL +Alan!
    I reckon they turn out alright in the end :-)