Monday, December 22, 2008

bad parenting

I lost Dylan this morning. For about 30 seconds. He was gone, vanished, nowhere to be seen on a busy avenue in Azabu-Juban. We had just gotten off the bus, and, after mopping up some Yakult that had spilled out of Conor's packed lunch, I checked the time and noted that we had to get a move on if we were to make it to gymnastics camp on time (I hate being late, especially on the first day!). I said "Come on guys, follow me!" and started walking fast, leading the way. At the corner I turned left, around a flower shop, and kept going, assuming the boys were right behind me. I went about half a dozen paces, and, turning around to make sure they were still there, as I do, I saw Conor was right behind me but not Dylan. I looked back toward the flower shop. No Dylan. I jogged back to the corner, Conor following behind, and poked my head around to the right, toward the bus stop. No Dylan. We turned and ran across the street where I then spotted a little boy, but it wasn't Dylan. I said out loud, maybe to Conor, maybe to myself, What is this, a joke? and Conor was like, "I don't know where he is!" My head was whipping around, right, left, right, left. WTF!?!? I actually envisioned a car pulling up alongside my kid, pulling him inside and driving off. A kidnapping, in Japan, I thought. Unthinkable! A few seconds later, I caught a glimpse of a bright orange jacket, with bright orange hood covering a little bowed head, a half block away. It was Dylan. I ran toward him, calling him name like a lunatic. People were staring and I thought, Yeah, that's right, I'm a crazy American, and I'm running down the street, shouting. So, what?!

So we caught up to Dylan and he was, of course, crying, tears streaming down his face. A kind gentleman who looked Southeast Asian and spoke English was with him and explained that he had walked into the convenient store...and then he said something else but I wasn't listening, I just thanked him and apologized "for the trouble" feeling vaguely idiotic watching my child blubbering away.

So, to recap, Conor and I rounded a corner while Dylan kept walking straight, crossing a street BY HIMSELF (he had the light, but still) and then wandered into a Sunkus, which is kinda like 7-Eleven, then walked out with a stranger who proceeded to try to help find me.

Rather than feeling relieved when the drama was over, I was furious! So I lectured him about not paying attention and crossing a street without holding my hand. If he had stopped to take my hand he would've noticed I wasn't with him. I told him that if at any time he suddenly finds himself alone, he should just stop and wait where he is. Had he done that, I would've found him immediately. And there were cops on that corner, and friendly looking women opening up the flower shop (they gave me a sympathetic look when I frantically gestured to them that I was missing a boy about yay high). I explained to Dylan that when he walked into the Sunkus, he was then out of sight and harder to find.

That's right, I blamed the six year old.

I know I shouldn't have booked ahead, and that when we finally found him, and saw that he was clearly distraught, I should've just hugged him and told him everything was OK.

But I didn't. Because I suck.

As we continued walking toward Nishimachi International School, where "I Can Gymnastics" is using the gym for their camp this week, Dylan kept crying, though quietly now, and said, "This is a big country and I don't want to live in a big country all by myself." I told him he was never in any real danger, that it was my fault for walking so fast and not paying attention, and he said "No mommy, it was my fault for crossing the street by myself." And with that he started sobbing again. I had my arm around him by now as I continued marching on up this stupidly steep hill toward the gym.

He seemed to have forgotten the whole thing by the time we got there. I didn't get a chance to say goodbye because as soon as he walked in, he took off his shoes and joined the group on the mat, and it's awkward to go over to your kid at that point and I was worried he'd start crying again and maybe ask to leave. So instead, I gave Conor a squeeze, told him to tell his brother that everything's OK, and left. Feeling shitty.

Tomorrow we are taking a cab.


Christine Wilson said...

This post totally made me cry. I don't think I ever realized how hard it is to be a mom until I had Ronan. Isn't overwhelming how much you can love another human being? I think you are a great mom and I appreciate this post so that when I feel I have made a parenting mistake, I will know that I am not alone.

XUE said...

This is a scary tale! My heart feels for you. No, not bad parenting, could happen to any mother. Poor Dylan & poor you too! This is also my greatest fear here, that my kids gt lost & can't communicate here! How do they tell someone in Tokyo that they are lost?!! That's why I keep telling them to work hard at their Japanese lessons.