I've found out that no matter how many children you have, you'll be gifted with just as many personalities. And, if you have as many as I did (four), odds are great you'll have an adventurer somewhere in the mix. These are the children who, in olden times, were explorers venturing where no one had ever gone. That's not a state that arrives at adulthood. It's present at birth and becomes obvious as soon as the little conquistador can crawl.
This is the child who scoots into nooks and crannies never before explored in your home. You'll find your explorer in odd places - the coat closet, under the sink, behind the washing machine. From the day this child begins to motor, you live in a strange mix of delight at where he ended up to absolute fear that one day he'd go to far.
One day, once he could toddle, he made his break. Fortunately he wasn't good at sneaking and I heard the front door slam. Out the door, down the road he walked. I've told this story before. He would have walked forever if I hadn't said hello to him right before he came to a busy intersection. I don't know where he was going, but he agreed it would be nice to go back home.
He's the child his siblings used to explore for hidden Christmas gifts. He was the youngest when he gave up the myths of childhood legends and wanted to know the "real" story.
I thought of this when I read the Associated Press story about a 4-year-old boy in Texas who went on his own adventure at 3 a.m. one recent morning. The AP refers to him as a toddler, but we all know at that age, he's more like a long-distance runner.
What did he do? Unlocked the door of his home, crossed seven lanes of traffic and went to the Family Dollar Store. The first door he tried was locked, so he tried a second one. It was unlocked and he went inside. That triggered an alarm and when police arrived he was playing with the toys.
My first thought was, "That could have been me." I'm sure around the world other women who happened upon the story were thinking the same thing. Once again I thanked my lucky stars that I heard that front door close long ago when, at 2, he went off to explore the world. And, I was even more thankful that, when he was 4, my neighbors were patient when he'd show up in their yard asking what they were doing and if he could help.
If he had once decided to make his escape at 3 a.m., all mothers know what would have happened. He would have succeeded. We grab sleep when we can get it and that's a sleeping time in anyone's book. The police began a canvas of the neighborhood and found his mother riding a bicycle looking for her child at 11 a.m. The father works the late shift so the family sleeps late, she explained to the officers.
Child Protective services launched an investigation, and during that time the Texas traveler is living with other relatives but not his parents. As a parent, that would cut me to the core. But for the little boy with a big case of wanderlust, I imagine it's just another adventure.
I hope they have double locks on all their doors and windows.
"Home Front" by Terry Murry is published every other Sunday. She can be reached at email@example.com and would love to hear stories of you adventurous children.