When we found out I was pregnant with Nae, it was both a shock and a surprise. We weren't trying, but we weren't NOT trying, either. We had been together for four years at that point and never got pregnant. I hadn't been on the pill much because it made me BAT SHIT CRAZY! And I'm allergic to latex condoms. So we were huge fans of the pull out method. Although, not EVERY TIME. Anyway, so when we got pregnant it wasn't a HUGE surprise. We still looked at it as a gift and did everything in our power to accept this gift and not take it for granted. We had many conversations on how we wanted to raise this child and how we DIDN'T want to raise this child. We may have taken it too far in some people's eyes, but this is OUR child, not theirs. So if we gave up get-togethers because we didn't have a sitter, then that's what had to be done. That was almost 13 years ago and to date, Nae has had MAYBE 10 babysitters in her life and two of them were NOT family members.
Then we decided for number two. That didn't happen the way we planned, WEIRD! But when it did, we were cautiously over joyed! We chose to raise Zilla the same way we chose to raise Nae. No babysitters if we could help it. Not that we didn't trust babysitters or we think it's bad to get a babysitter, we just felt we didn't need to. We were a little bit relaxed with him and let my BIL take both of the kids over night for New Year's Eve when Zilla was 5 months old. The Universe let us know how much of a bad idea this was because we woke up the next morning with A LOT of snow on the ground. Panic ensued and we got both of then home in one piece.
Overprotective might be a bit of an understatement when it comes to how we've chosen to parent, but we do have good reason. And here is where the moment our lives could have changed forever happened. I looked through my archives and I don't think I've told this story before, so I'll tell it now. It has a happy ending, thank Goddess, but it wasn't one of my proud parenting moments. This is also why I freaked out so much when I saw Zilla by the parking lot at school.
That picture could have been the last picture I had taken of Zilla. We were at a school carnival at Nae's school. We've been to this school SO many times, everyone knew us and him. We use to joke that he was the mascot because he had been there more then some of the teachers. We first started going there when he was about a year and a half to volunteer in Nae's classroom. He was in his stroller and would take his naps in there while I did my work. It wasn't a new environment to him at all. Which is probably why the day ended as well as it did.
He was going through a bounce house/obstacle course thing. He had done it many time before the last time without incident. He took off his shoes and I watched him go through the difficult part. I then told him that I was going to get his shoes and to meet me at the end. It took all of TWO SECONDS, that he was out of my sight. I went back to the end of the bounce house and he was GONE! I waited for him to come out, thinking he climbed back up the slide for another round, but no he didn't.
I walked to the front of the thing and asked the woman running it if he had come out there, he didn't. I told Nae to go check the playground and see if he was there. He was wearing a bright orange shirt, so he wouldn't have been THAT hard to spot. Except there were like eleventy billion other little boys wearing an orange shirt that day, too. Nae and her friends were looking all over the playground for him, coming back to me and telling me they hadn't found him. I was doing my best NOT to panic.
I ran through the gym to the school building thinking he might have wondered off to Nae's classroom for candy or whatever little treats her teacher had in there. Her teacher and another gal saw the look on my face and asked me what was wrong. I wasn't panicking until THAT moment. Until the words "I can't find Zilla" came out of my mouth. All the teachers and the principal scattered in different directions to search for him, but nobody found him. It was probably 5 MAYBE 10 minutes we were looking for him, but it felt like HOURS. My phone rang and I answered it, it was Peaches telling me Zilla was home. We lived two blocks from the school and when he couldn't find me he WALKED HOME! That's when I lost it. My knees buckled and I dropped to the floor crying thinking about what could have been. Nae's teacher found me, picked me up and helped me get it together. I grabbed Nae and we ran home.
As soon as I walked in the door and saw my baby sitting on the couch with tears on his cheeks, I lost it again. I grabbed him and just held him and cried. He was safe, scared but safe. When I asked him what happened his simple 3 year old answer was "I couldn't find you. I lost you, so I came home". I'm glad he knew his way home, obviously, but thinking about him crossing two streets, barefoot, makes me sick to my stomach still.
That day is still very fresh in my mind. Every time I think about it, I get so scared. So that is why when I saw him almost in the parking lot at his school the other day, I FREAKED out. I may have jumped the gun a bit but that was NOT ok. It was not ok for a six year old boy to be that close to the street. I don't care how many staff members are directing traffic, they don't know who is or who is NOT on the pick up list. A number of things could have happened and the school is not understanding this.
In the end everything turned out well and they will not be transferring Zilla to the other school, but I am not going to let this go. He may have to finish out the school at this school, but I will not be dropping this. I intend to talk to the principal again about the pick up process and even the PTA president. If my fears are not appeased, then I WILL be talking to the superintendent.
I may not be the norm when it comes to protecting my children, but that does not mean that a six year old should be responsible for where he needs to be after school. The principals at both schools don't seem to think what happened was a big deal. Unless they're playing it down so I don't freak out. If that's their plan, it's not working. They are making it worse by not acknowledging a flaw in their system.
Yes the children should know where to be when they need to be picked up, it's a part of making them aware and responsible. Both of which, I think are very important, but what about if there was a custody battle between Dirty and myself? What if my dad went to pick up Zilla and Zilla went with him? My dad isn't on the pick up list. Obviously it would be fine if he was picked up by my dad, but the school doesn't know that! What if some pervert decided to go kid shopping and picked up my son? What would the school have done THEN? What would they have done if he did run out into the street and got hit by a car?
These aren't little what if's, these are BIG what if's. I am relieved beyond words that nothing bad happened, but what if.....what if?