Photo from our last trip to Belle Ile, Dec 2011. My little dreamer.
Maximilien pulled a fast one on us today. We packed up this afternoon to head to the Jardin des Plantes pour the plant festival this weekend. We planned to ride over on our bikes so we headed directly over to the bike locker. Though we didn't verbally say we were taking the bikes we walked in the opposite direction of the entrance/exit of our residence to get our bikes. Maximilien ran ahead of us like he does every weekday because we use the bike to go to school/creche. Lately, he's been playing a game of hiding in the doorways of the other building in our residence. Assuming that this is what he was doing we went about getting the bikes ready for our ride. My mother's instinct started to tingle (sort of like spidey sense) and I started to look around for Max. Julien told me he was hiding somewhere and not to worry. Another few seconds went by and I wasn't convinced he was hiding so I started calling his name. No response.
I started to walk around our residence and I couldn't see him. I ran back to Julien to say that I couldn't see him. We started calling his name. No response.
I immediately ran to gated entrance of our residence and ran outside. I saw a man in the street and asked him if he has seen a little boy with a Spiderman backpack. He did not. Panicked, I ran across two streets to get to the Parc de Choisy and started calling out Max's name. The park was packed with families. There were children everywhere. I called his name again and didn't get a response. I ran up towards the play structures and then I heard him crying out my name. In that moment I felt so many emotions. Fear, relief, sadness and anger. Anger was the emotion that took over and I ran to Max and grabbed him hard. I could see he was upset. He was scared because he couldn't find us. I was confused to why he was acting like this only because I was so focused on my anger he had left our apt complex ALONE. The return was dramatic. Julien and I both lost our tempers. Poor Max. He scared the shit out of his parents and we couldn't control ourselves and lost our tempers. It was a nuclear meltdown of human emotions. We went straight back to the apt to talk about what had just happened.
Apparently, Maximilien didn't realize we were taking the bikes out though we had walked in the opposite direction of the door to the bike locker. He also thought that we had somehow run off ahead of him to the park and left him behind hence his panicked face when I found him at the park. Poor, poor Max. This was a scary situation for all of us. We talked about the importance of staying with Mommy and Daddy and that he should NEVER leave the residence without us. The residence where we live is gated and Maximilien can now reach the button to unlock the gate to the street. Inside the residence, he is safe to run around because there are no cars and only people who live in the residence and have the code can come and go.
I rack my brain trying to understand my five year old's reasoning. My first reaction to him was why did he cross the street ALONE? He knows that this is not allowed. We have been repeating this rule to him since he stopped using the stroller. He knows to hold or hand crossing the street and he systematically waits for us when he arrives to the crosswalk. I have to believe that he honestly believe we had left him behind for him to cross the street alone and to come looking for us at the park. I can't believe he went all the way to the park alone.
It took me two hours to calm down after we found Max. We layed in our bed talking about what happened, hugging each other and promising that we wouldn't never let this happen again. I reassured him to my best ability that I would never ever leave him behind. I can't believe he'd think that. He must have been so distracted in the moment.
While we were laying together I thought about a story that my parents used to repeat to me over and over again when I was kid. I was younger than Max and we were in Korea for the summer visiting family. Apprently, I got bored and left the family residence and walked a long distance (for a four year old) to go to the park and play. The way I remember my parents telling me the story they made it sound sort of funny. It was my Halahboji who knew exactly where I had run off to. I have to believe that my parents were probably feeling pretty panicked (me: hysterical) in the moment just like Julien and I were today. What a scare. Between Alixe with her recent seizure episode and Max disappearing too, these kids have really brought forth the extreames of parenting.
All this on Mother's day, as well. This will be a day I will never forget.