Monday, March 28, 2011

The Day I Lost Chandler

Bubbles lover

So, a few days before we left for our Kentucky trip in December, Chandler was being his usual self, bouncing in and out of the house like a mouse on caffeine. As I was making dinner, though, he didn't come inside. About 10 minutes since the last sighting, I started thinking I should check on him. But I wanted to finish dinner. So I waited. The alarms in my head went off every now and then for probably about 25 minutes. Finally, I realized it had been way too long, so it was time to check on him.

First, you have to understand something about my neighborhood. It's a quiet place, and we live near a dead end. Most people here have at least an acre, and many of those aren't fenced in. Ours isn't. A few properties over is a small preserve of land as well. Wildlife runs rampant here. Deer, ducks, even guineas and foxes, migrate through our area.

So I head into the backyard, and cannot find him. Check the front yard: nope. Went back in the house, checked every hiding place he normally uses. Tried to not freak out (or get really irritated). Also, I knew he had our little dog Foxy with him, so I'd call for her, but nothing. Which meant they were out of earshot.

After about 10 minutes of looking, finally, Foxy ran up to the house. She came from the direction of the Preserve. She and Chandler must've adventured up the back of our property and headed East through our neighbor's land. So, I ventured over there, and sure enough, there was Chandler. When he left, he had on jeans, a long sleeved shirt, and no shoes. The lack of shoes is why I had figured he wouldn't have gone far. WRONG. And evidently, Mr Potty Trainer decided that he had to poop, so he took his pants and diaper off. So when I found him he had on only a shirt. Lovely. I asked where his pants were and he pointed into the preserve and said "Far far over dere." After a few minutes of looking, I gave up on the pants. I needed to get him cleaned up and warmed up.

But that's not where the story ends. Oh no, it gets better.

A few days after we returned from Kentucky, January 6th to be exact, I took the boys grocery shopping. On the way home, Chandler asked if he could watch Diego. Seeing as how I'd be making dinner, I told him "Sure." Then he said "Nevermind. I no want to watch Diego." That, like, never happens. Should've been clue #1.

We get home and I start unloading groceries. Chandler heads straight for the backyard. Since I no longer trust him to stay in boundaries, I warn him not to "go into the trees." We'd had a long talk about it when I found him in the preserve. He says he won't, and heads up to the backyard.

I finished unloading groceries and immediately went to get a visual on him. I no longer would allow more than a few minutes to pass without checking on him since the earlier incident.

But amazingly, literally after 5 minutes since the warning, he has vanished again!

This time, I ran up our property and headed East. I looked all through the preserve, but he was nowhere. I knew he couldn't be too far.

Oh, and two properties over to the West, there was a new water tower being built, complete with loud machines. So, when I called for Chandler, I was sure he couldn't hear over the machinery. Did I mention that this was in the height of cedar season when I hardly had a voice due to allergies? So I'm running through cedar forests, yelling the best I can, trying not to panic. This time our dog didn't go with him, and he had shoes on...not good.

I checked out things to the West, in case he'd wanted to see the big machines in action. Finally, I went through the property behind us, came to another road, and just stood and listened. I'd call, then listen. At this point I thought I'd heard him, far off, crying like he was scared. But it was so faint I told myself it must've been an animal. And it was hard to hear over the machines anyway.

So, after repeatedly checking the front yard, the road, etc, I started to really panic. It had been 35-40 minutes at this point, since he left! I knew he probably wasn't kidnapped because he didn't go to the road, and he was more likely exploring again. But I was running out of options. I saw a sweet neighbor, and told him I'd lost Chandler, so he got in his truck and drove around calling for him. Another neighbor said "You need to call the police immediately." I figured there was one more thing I could do first: drive up to that neighborhood behind our property. Maybe if I had heard him crying...

So I loaded up Charlie and Chance and we drove over to that neighborhood. This was about 5 pm, and people were getting home from work, so I was able to tell many people I was looking for my lost 2 year old. Thankfully, someone drove up and said "We found him!"

We live on the lower part of a kinda steep hill. Never would I have thought it possible, but he hiked to the top and knocked on that home's front door! It's a long hard hike, and I would not have thought he could have done it so fast! The neighbor walked him down from her house to the road, and while I wanted to be mad, all I could do was hold him and cry. I never would've thought he would have gone so far. He was crying really hard too. She said he'd been crying the entire time. My guess was he had gotten lost, and panicked. It scares me that he crossed that road! It's not a busy road, but still!!

So my theory is, as he thought about Diego in the car, he decided he wanted to go on his own adventure. The boys call the forests around our house "the jungle." I guess Foxy is his baby jaguar. Anyways, he must've been intent on heading up that hill from the moment he stepped out of the car, because I didn't allow him much of a head start and still couldn't find him.

While I've fantasized on various ways of keeping him from doing that again (invisible fence and shock collar...what?!), I honestly think he's learned his lesson. For several weeks since, he cries if he gets too far from me. And he's yet to go into "the trees." I still dream of fencing in our property, but as Chuck says, that probably wouldn't stop him from finding a way out.

Until then I'll just thank God that He knows everything...even the whereabouts of my child!

Chandler's 3rd Birthday


Kelly said...

Terrifying! I'm so glad you found him safe and sound (relatively) quickly. Good time to look into that shock collar option. :)

Cooking Up Faith said...

Oh, what a horrible feeling!! I'm so glad he was okay - and look at that precious face! I hope he starts staying closer to home too!! (for his safety and your sanity! :))

Stacia said...

Oh girl! I've been there! I'm so glad you found him and that he's okay.

Unknown said...

So scary! I'm so glad everything turned out OK. The one good thing about him being scared too is like you said, hopefully it won't happen again! My son wandered off at the zoo once. We reunited, cried for a while, and it never happened again.

Am I horrible if I laughed at the no-pants part of the first story?

Karyn @ DFC said...

I had something similar happen this weekend with my daughter. It is terrifying and no matter how many conversations you have to prevent those things from happening they still have minds of their own!! So thankful God is watching them when I can't see!

Me and My Boys said...

Oh my gracious Angie! I would have been a ball of tears and anxiety! I'm so glad you found him!