So, the Pea decided not to come home from school yesterday.
Normally the Princess and the Pea ride their bikes home from school together and with a bunch of other kids. They normally arrive home together. Yesterday, the Princess showed up at home with a friend, and the friend’s sister. They asked for a snack, all the usual things. I was sitting on the couch watching my soaps and eating bon-bons (as I am wont to do) so I’m not sure why I didn’t notice that her brother wasn’t with her at first but I didn’t. It wasn’t until the Princess had been home for about ten minutes that I looked around (at my immaculately clean, sparkling kitchen) and asked where the Pea was.
“He went to Costco with his friend,” the Princess replied.
“I told him he wasn’t allowed but he just went.”
Of course he’s not allowed, he’s five years old.
For the benefit of those who don’t know where I live I will tell you that there is a Costco at the end of our street. I can see it (well, the parking lot) from my house (well, the end of the driveway). This has been the source of much joy and felicitation on my part, but there are times (like when my children go there instead of coming home from school) that I wish there wasn’t a shopping center quite so close.
The Princess, who is almost eight, and the Pea, who’s five, had made the mistake of hitting Costco (the vending machines in the food court, specifically) on their way home from school before. I thought I had disabused them of the notion that that was acceptable. I thought I had disabused them of the notion that being on that side of the street was acceptable.
Apparently I didn’t hit them hard enough.
So, I told the friend, and her sister, that they would have to go home. I loaded Irish1 and Irish2 into the double stroller that my wonderful mother gave me (have to give mom her due now that I know), the Princess jumped on her bike and we headed to the end of the street.
There was no sign of the Pea or his bike at Costco.
Now I’m starting to worry. I know, I probably should have worried sooner but my children are VERY independent and this is not the first time the Pea has gone off somewhere on his own. This is the worst place he gone off on his own but it’s not the first time, back to my story.
Pushing the fantastic but enormous stroller we headed back across the parking lot so that I could go home and I could load the three children, whose whereabouts I had a handle on, into the van and we could drive the neighborhood looking for my five-year-old. Did I mention that the Pea is FIVE?
I was standing on the corner with the twins in the stroller and the Princess on the bike, waiting to cross the street and suddenly the Princess says, “there he is.”
Sure enough the Pea comes riding out of the parking lot.
I could have strangled him.
It was at this time that one of the cars driving by on the street between mine and Costco stopped for me. This is an ENOURMOUS pet-peeve of mine. If I am stupid enough to be in the middle of the street when you drive up, (I won’t be. EVER.) by all means, stop. But if I am waiting patiently on the sidewalk for a break in traffic KEEP DRIVING!!!!! I promise I will not step off the curb in front of your car. I will not run out into the road. I am perfectly capable of reading traffic patterns and crossing when the road is clear. And there is no need to inconvenience yourself as well as the people in the cars behind you by stopping and nearly getting hit. And I don’t want my children to think that the cars will just stop for them. (I am a jaywalker of the first order but I learned to jaywalk in Washington DC, I promise I won’t get hit as long as you don’t drive like an idiot.)
Sorry, I’m back. Anyway, this car stopped (nearly getting hit in the process) to let us cross and I who was still waiting for the Pea and in no mood to be civil, yelled at the people in the car. “JUST DRIVE, I’M A BIG GIRL AND I CAN CROSS THE STREET ALL BY MYSELF!” They drove on.
The Pea caught up with us and we crossed (incidentally, as we were crossing the people who had stopped for me, who had pulled into the Costco parking lot, got out of their car and yelled at me something about how that was no way to treat people who were just trying to be nice. They were right and I was ashamed of myself but the kids were half way across the street so I couldn’t go back and apologize. Besides I had a kid to kill.) Then the Pea and his sister took off on their bikes down the street to our house. When I got home he was on the swings in the backyard. As if all was well.
ALL WAS NOT WELL!
He spent the evening in his room (or he was supposed to but he is incapable of staying in his room, or anywhere else, or still) and he’s grounded, and he lost some points on our good behavior chart…
It turns out that he and “his friend” I boy that I only sort of know (and what I know I don’t particularly like) who is only about 7 or 8, didn’t go to Costco, they went to the mall behind the Costco to “get some stuff.”
“What stuff? You don’t have money,” I said. “And you don’t go to the mall without an adult and a purpose and you come right home from school and you don’t …”
Long story short (too late), the Pea should never be allowed to leave the house again. But he will. And things like this should never happen again. But they will. And I just don’t know what to do about it. So if you see me by the side of the road and you feel like you want to help me out, to give me a break, just keep on driving.