I know a little about kids disappearing from under your nose. My second child is quiet and never makes a wave. If he were a see-saw, he'd be a see-saw that stays perfectly balanced in the middle. No slamming down onto the ground jarring the rider, no zipping up into the sky, making one grip the handle for dear life. No, he's quiet, steady, even. And when he was a toddler I was still getting used to that element in my life. My first child was a thrilling lightning bolt from the start. One could hear him in the back yard screaming banchee hollers for three blocks. I always sorta knew what he was doing, by sight, by ear, by telepathy, by gut, by the neighbors calling.
We moved to this house when Luke was almost two. He was a little blond-headed angel who, when he wanted to say something, would lift his little pointer finger into the air above his head, raise his widdle chin and loft his words into the air like pretty colored balloons. In our new house he had a hiding place, but it too was easy. Everybody knew where it was - in the bathroom, in the little cubby behind the shower. There he'd stand and grin until his brother or one of us would peek around to find him.
But sometimes he'd quietly slip out of the house. I might be doing laundry or the dishes, thinking he was just around the corner and there would be a knock at the back door. Three times in the early months of our living here, my next-door neighbor miraculously and unexplainedly appeared at my door holding the very child that I knew with certainty to be playing 15 ft away from me. Once, reportedly, he was in the yard yanking at his blankie on the clothesline. And frankly, I don't know what he was doing the other times because I was inside imagining him happily toddling around me within arms reach. I began to think maybe he was capable of time travel or telekinesis or disappearing into thin air. Or maybe I was just not paying enough attention? Good thing my neighbor was.
So...I don't know about the kid in the balloon/attic/father's alternate reality. Something doesn't sit right with me and that whole story. The father said he didn't think it'd go that far. What wouldn't go that far, mister?
The whole thing reminded us last night of the time we lost Josie. Our 185 lb Great Dane. She had an invisible fence collar, but we never used it because she never wanted to go anywhere. In fact, in the early days, I'd literally had to pull her off the property and down to the corner to get her to go on a walk. She was a homebody, she loved home and hearth. So the afternoon that we couldn't find her, we were shocked and instantly frantic. I mean, seeing as she was the size of my husband and splotched with big spots of brown and white, she was hard to miss! We all took off running around the yard, behind the garage, Stan jumped in the truck and drove around town, we flew in and out the back door and through the house calling JOSIE! JOSIE! We told our neighbors. Seth ran around the block. We trampled through neighbors' back yard, calling and searching. How does one lose a giant spotted animal that stops traffic on the street just walking along and minding her own business? Then Seth went back inside and found a sleepy dog laying in our fireplace cove, quietly looking up wondering what the heck our problem was.
Last night's UFO story (that's Undoubtedly Flakey Outcome) probably reminded lots of parents of the day they lost their kid. And now I will not retell the story of leaving Luke at the ball park.