The boys were crazy today. I mean, beating each other up, hitting with legos, charging around, being nutty. So we went outside.
It was a gorgeous day out. Sunny, warm, delightful. We walked from the boat to the marina office, picked up the mail, and then decided to flop out on the Meadow (me) and run out the crazies (them).
Before long, there was a hide-and-seek game. I could pretty well see them both, and was not really being eagle-eyed about it; I mean, it’s the marina, they’re kids, they should be able to run, right? They dashed over to the firepit, and I was sort of slowly thinking of standing up and heading over there, when Kestrel came toddling back to me.
“I can’t find Rowan” he said dejectedly.
“Fine” I say, and I hollered for Rowan. No answer. I hollered again, a little louder. Again, no answer.
The only place clearly out of my sight was behind the shower house, so I headed there immediately. And saw Rowan standing there talking to a man.
I’d never seen him before. Probably between 45 and 55 years of age, well-kept, thin, tallish, grey hair, good shape. Blue eyes. Standing far too close to my son. He looked up as I rounded the building, and said “You’re doing a great job with this boy.”
Dear readers, I have no idea why, but I hated the man on sight. I snapped at Rowan, “Get back over to the lawn, go sit down by Kaia, and wait for me.” Apparently I had murder in my eyes, and he did precisely as he was told (for the first and last time today).
I looked at the man, who proceeded to babble about having to meet someone at the dock and was this “A” gate or “A” dock and he wasn’t really sure where he was supposed to meet this person, who was showing him a boat, and blah blah blah blah.
Gavin de Becker would have called it “too much detail.” I gave him the “You are a bug and I have a pin” look, and said “The Harbormaster’s office is over there, go check with him if you’re looking for a boat.” The man babbled about making a cellphone call, and retreated. I got back to the boys, and just…sat…down. This all hadn’t really gelled in my head yet; I think I was running on instinct.
A marina neighbor came by to chat, and so I had a great excuse to stay right where I was for about half an hour. And friends, the man didn’t go to either gate. He in fact walked along the parking lot, and then got into a car and drove off.
Rowan and I have had a long talk about strangers, about people who do bad things to kids, about how hard you fight, how loud you scream, and how it is OK to bite and kick and do all the things that you’re not supposed to do to your little brother. We’ve also talked about being out of sight, and about answering when Mama calls you.
If I think about this too much, I’m going to be sick. I try so hard to give my kids some semblance of free-range, and some degree of security and safety in which to explore their world. I deplore “helicopter moms”. And yet… what would have happened if I hadn’t been right there? If I hadn’t gone to precisely where he was immediately upon missing him? What if I’d been distracted and not gotten there fast enough?
They’re bathed and jammied, we’re snuggling in for a movie and an early bedtime. And I am probably going to have my post-stress cry then. My hands are already shaking, full-on fight or flight recovery mode.
Nothing happened, right? My conscious brain knows that. But my jungle brain feels like I just avoided a lifetime nightmare.