One unseasonably warm afternoon last December I found my 3-year-old by the door working on her independence by putting her shoes on. She had no pants on (but the shoes she chose did look nice with her shirt). I heard the baby starting to cry so I, fearing that the little devil might attempt a step out to the yard, emphasized that we do not leave the house without pants (shoes and shirts for service, but pants for leaving the house). Thinking my point had been adaquately made I tended to the shrieking babe. Upon returning to the door I found my daughter was gone. Looking out the door and windows I could not see her. Parents worst nightmare. Panicked call to her Dad. I frantically looked outside until he arrived and then we frantically searched together. Finally we received a most welcome phone call.
At this juncture I should explain that we live on a private high school campus in a boys dormitory where my husband is the boys dorm supervisor. My toddler’s Grandma also lives on the campus – across the parking lot in the girls dormitory where she is the girls dorm suprvisor. The little goober had walked to Grandma’s apartment. Across the parking lot. Where there were men in vests parking cars that were arriving for a dinner being held at the school. Thankfully one of the boys emerged from the dorm as she was walking by and, noting her state of undress and lack of supervision, correctly assumed she was not where she should be and followed behind her to make sure she was okay.When the fugitive showed up on her door step, Grandma called – the call I answered happened to be the 2nd or 3rd call.
This was a frightening experience, to say the least. And embarrassing – I keep thinking of all the people that might have seen her and wondered about the parenting skills of her Dad and I. It was one of those things that puts it all in perspective and it took me awhile to feel anything other than fear and shame when I thought of my little girl escaping on my watch (it was good for her Dad though – think of how many times he can mess up and still say, “Hey, at least she didn’t walk across campus while I was in charge”).
She walked across the campus. Across a busy parking lot. Without pants on. Sigh.
My advice? Electric fence.