Adventures in Parenting: Losing Someone Else’s Kid

Bet that title got your attention! In an effort to continue writing even when my life is in turmoil and I don’t feel like writing, I’ve decided to tell stories from my adventures in parenting. I have been a parent for over 23 years now, so I have years and years worth of hilarious shit to relay. In today’s installment, I’ll be relating the story of how I lost someone else’s kid. A four year old, in Brooklyn, New York. My middle son had two friends growing up that he was extremely close to. At various points in their childhood, these two boys lived with us so I’ll refer to them in today’s terms as ‘alternate sons’.  They loved our big, noisy apartment and my house was basically the hang out spot for little boys for years. That meant that at whatever age they were, I had 3 boys of the same age in my home very often, and of course we had to call them the three musketeers. One of them, Aru, was much shorter and younger looking than the rest (when he was 6 he was still able to pass for three. We took him into the movies free for years.) He lived down the block and around the corner from us. And he was at our house every single weekend.

One Saturday when the three musketeers were four years old,  I got a call from his mom. She nonchalantly said “Hi”. I said “Hi. What’s up?” she asked me, “Where’s Aru?” I said in the back with the boys playing. You wanna talk to him?” She responded, “Are you sure?” Now I’m confused.

Me: “Am I sure? Yeah why wouldn’t I be?”

Her: “Can you just go check…”

Me: “Sure, hold on a sec”. I walk to the back of the house, calling ‘Aru!’ as I went. I reached the boys room and there are only 2 boys sitting on the floor. “Where’s Aru?!” I ask, starting to feel a fluttery feeling in my stomach. One boy says, “I don’t know.” Another boy says, “In the bathroom, I think.” I checked the bathroom before so I knew he wasn’t there. My hands were sweaty and shaking when I pick the phone back up, because I had just brought all the boys in from playing out front maybe 10 minutes earlier.

Her: “Can’t find him?”

Me: “No!”

Her: “That’s because he’s sitting here with me.”

Me: “WHAT??? How? Why?”

Her: “I don’t know he just rang the bell a couple of minutes ago. His dad is really upset and doesn’t want me to let him go back over there for a while.”

Me: “Uh, I don’t blame him, I wouldn’t want me watching him either since I apparently lost him! I am soooooo sooooo sorry! I don’t know how this happened!” I was feeling like I was going to throw up as I apologized over and over. She assured me she knew I was a good mother and that this type of thing had never happened before. And she did keep him home for about two weeks until his constant begging and crying to be with us finally frayed her last nerve and she brought him back. I was hesitant to take him though. I knew I’d be putting the chain on the door the whole time he was there just for good measure, but I wanted to know what prompted him to go home in the first place. Why if he wanted to be at our house so bad had he left that day? I needed to have a talk with him before he could spend the night again. So he came over and I called him into the kitchen to talk.

Me: “I’m really curious why you decided to leave and go home that day that you left. That can never happen again, that was very dangerous.Why would you do that?”

Him: “I forgot to bring the ball when we came inside, so I went back down to get it. But then the door shut behind me and I couldn’t get it back open.”

Me: “Why didn’t you ring the bell here so we would let you in?”

Him: “I tried and tried but I couldn’t reach it. But I knew I could reach Nikita’s [his mother] bell so I just walked around the corner and rang her bell. I wasn’t scared.” This kid. Very calculating, impossible to scare or fluster even at four years old. He assured me that it would not happen again because now he knew he could get locked out and not be able to reach the bell. “Can I go play now?”

I nodded and just had no words. I just sat there shaking my head over and over and feeling really lucky. Talk about dodging a bullet!

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