I mentioned before that Ian has been somewhat attached to me since his father died. He also is not a fan of being alone in the house (like if I walk to a neighbor's house or leave for work five minutes before he leaves for school). It's understandable given all that's happened, but I do feel like I have to peel him off of me at times. It also keeps him from getting out into the world/neighborhood because of his own fear.
We spent Friday night at Shrop's house in the beautiful L&J Gardens neighborhood. Ian wanted to make more progress in Harry Potter before bed. We were in Chapter Nine where Malfoy challenges Harry to a midnight duel. The children were sneaking to the trophy room when they discovered Neville, curled up outside the door to their common room. Neville couldn't remember the password to get in so was stuck out in the hall alone.
Ian immediately commented that he felt bad for Neville. After a few more sentences, Ian's face went sour and he said that if he were Neville, he would have been scared and felt awful to be all alone too. A few more sentences and he was sobbing, begging me to stop reading. I assured him Neville was with his friends now and fine and we could keep going but he was not having it. We closed the book and I sang him a song until he fell asleep with tear-stained cheeks.
Ian slept poorly all night, waking up repeatedly to tell me that he was scared and needed me. I also slept poorly because of all this. Saturday morning came way too soon and we decided to drive around the corner to our favorite local diner Rooster's for breakfast. The day was looking up at this point. I commented that I was going to my yoga class and that even if I had to rush off and leave, Ian and Shrop could walk home, it was so close. I did give them a ride home before heading to the Jewish Community Center for my dose of namaste.
I returned refreshed and found Ian was playing outside with Maylee, a girl only a few months older than him from the neighborhood. They were doing really well and virtually self-sufficient. I spent the morning in the driveway with Shrop, helping him align his Jeep and trade out the risers on his motorcycle handlebars. It was as if we were childless.
A little after noon, I decided to get some groceries, figuring the children would get hungry soon. As I left, Ian and Maylee had declared they were going to go on an adventure, perhaps as far as the lake a few hundred yards away. Ok, great.
They had several false starts as they ruminated over what essential items had to come with them on this adventure. Ian ended up carrying not only his father's shoulder bag but his overnight bag full of God knows what. I shook my head as they walked away, noting that he looked like he was heading for a weekend adventure versus a lunchtime one. Whatever, kid.
When I returned from the grocery store, Shrop informed me that the children planned on going to the fishing store which is next door to Rooster's for their adventure. Shrop was on the fence about that being a reasonable place for them to walk to, but was damned if he was going to show any concern after Ian's hesitation to be out of our sight for more than a minute. Ian was pumped about this adventure and Shrop sure as hell wasn't going to stop him.
I sat and had my lunch with Shrop at the house. After an hour, I noted that the kids weren't back yet, but I wasn't concerned. Not 10 minutes later, my phone rang from an unknown caller ID. I clicked ignore, assuming it was a robo call. Two minutes later, it called again and I decided to answer it.
It was Officer Hatch of Virginia Beach police. He wanted to know if my son and daughter were lost. I told him no, they were roaming the neighborhood. He said, "Well, they're up here at Rooster's and the manager was concerned they may be lost so she called us."
"Are they being a bother?"
"No, they're totally fine. She just reported two kids about 7 and 9 who looked lost. If you claim them and you're fine with them being here I'm fine with that too. Like I said, I'm just checking in because the manager was concerned."
"Ah, well, I appreciate it but we're actually happy they ventured that far. We're about half a mile away in L&J Gardens. If they're acting up, you can send them home."
"Nope, they're good. I appreciate your time, ma'am."
I always wondered when I would get a call from the cops about my kid. I figured it was only a matter of time, I just thought I had a few more years until he was at least double digit age.
As I hung up, Shrop called Rooster's to talk to the manager. "Hi, this is Shrop. I'm the black guy on the Harley that's there all the time. Our kids are up there. Are they acting right?"
The manager said the kids were acting just fine but she was just concerned because they didn't have an adult with them and they looked lost. I later realized that since Ian literally had two overnight bags with him, he did look a little homeless. She apologized for bothering us and said the kids were very polite. She had fed them grilled cheese and fries for no charge but the kids decided to take them to go. Shrop said they would most likely be back again another day and they should be expected to pay for their food and tip the server.
About 30 minutes later, I noticed Ian and Maylee coming back down the street with doggie bags in hand. They turned towards Maylee's house and I left them alone.
Once they did come back to the house we pieced together the rest of the story. They had gone to the fishing store and Ian had bought Maylee a Pepsi with the money from his wallet. After she drank that, they decided to rest and cool off before walking back. They went into Rooster's (where Ian had been not four hours earlier) and ordered two waters.
The manager asked them if they were hungry and wanted grilled cheese and fries. They accepted. I mean, it would be rude not to, and it was lunch time. This would also save them the trouble of walking home for me to make them sandwiches. That's when the cop showed up and asked them where they lived and if Ian could call his mom. Ian said his tablet didn't have wifi so he couldn't FaceTime me, but he did know my number for the cop to call. And that's how I got the phone call.
Ian was concerned I would have been mad the cops called me but we were all fine. I'm so grateful that the cop was reasonable and didn't give either my kid or me a hard time. And I'm perfectly happy that the Rooster's staff wanted to make sure my pack mule child was not actually trying to run away from home.
To add to their adventures today, I took Ian and Maylee with me to collect stones with Brigit and Reid behind the granite countertop building. We were filthy after that, covered in dust and grime. So of course we all three headed to Chick-fil-a for dinner. There were more cops in line getting their own meals while we ate ours at a table. Maylee wondered if they would give us a hard time but figured that my presence made them safe. I told her that we were all dirty enough, the cops may actually think we all had run away from home, myself included.
While I was at yoga this morning, the instructor repeated that we should all be "finding the point between effort and ease." We should be putting forth effort for the pose but not doing so much that our hearts were racing. She also reminded us that the point is different for each person on any given day. Yesterday, Ian couldn't even hear about a child being alone in a book. Today, he set off to buy a soda for his lady friend and ended up having a lovely chat with Virginia Beach police and a free lunch.
I'm so grateful he found his point between effort and ease today when it came to being out of my sight. Tomorrow, they will have another adventure. Maylee's suggestion was to go deliver a tip for their server from today.