We are about to make our third family move in 16 months. In the fall of 2008 we moved from Charlotte, NC to Fayetteville. At that time Camden had just turned 2 and Cavan was 5 months old and crawling. Cavan learned to walk in our Fayetteville house, and he was doing his best to keep up with his older brother. We lived in Fayetteville a whopping 9 months before we had to move again to Wilmington, NC. Fayetteville is not at the top of my list of the safest places for young children (no offense); therefore, our house had key locks, as well as chain locks on all doors.
When we moved to the Wilmington house, it never occurred to me that Camden might be able to unlock the doors and wander down the way to introduce himself to the neighbors. The locks on the house in Wilmington were dead bolt and could be opened with just the right amount of effort. Apparently, Camden had it in the bag. His fine motor skills were developing behind my back and his chubby little fingers had turned into slick, skilled digits.
One fine September morning, just a week or so after we moved into the new "beach" house, conveniently located 5 miles from the ocean in a quiet gated community of mostly retired transplants, I turned the boys loose to play in packing boxes while I took a few minutes to brush my teeth. You'd think a mom could manage a few minutes for those kinds of things, right? Wrong.
While brushing my teeth and enjoying getting comfortable in the new Master bathroom, I began to think that things were a little too quiet. I turned the water off and called for the boys. No answer. Oh, no. I ran to the living room and there was no sign of the boys. No problem, it was a big new house; they had to be somewhere inside. They were not. I quickly turned in circles around the living room, and I began to panic. In mid-spin I noticed the door to back porch was opened. "Oh, Dear Lord!"
There is a small ditch in the back yard that serves as a sort of border between our property and the neighbor's. There are no fences in the neighborhood-it's just a giant backyard free-for-all. It is designed so because the association pays for lawn care (where one guy can ride in and raze all the lawns in one giant sweep). It's a terrific service if you are retired and don't care about fences and such-not terrific if you have young tots and need boundaries. Because the drainage is terrible (non-existent), the ditch fills with water every time it rains even a little.
I ran outside to find the boys swimming and splashing like ducks in the puddles left by the early morning rain. I ran crying ran as fast as I could (which is pretty speedy considering I used to be a track star), and I swept up both boys, one under each arm, and ran straight to the house, their wet little limbs swinging wildly.
I dried them off and thanked God they were safe. I called Ryan to insist we have the locks changed immediately to a child-proof system. I now literally keep the boys under lock-and-key, and I keep the key on top of the mantel. The next day the boys and I met the backyard neighbor, and he informed me he had already gotten a glimpse of the boys splashing around in his backyard. Really? And you thought you'd just enjoy the show from your patio? Welcome to the neighborhood.
Michelle Evans Jarrell
Opera singer, freelance writer, wife, and mommy of two bouncing-off-the-walls boys!
I have so many stories I could fill a book, and actually, I'd like to someday!
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