It's been too long since I've written anything personally. So much has happened in the past few months. I haven't really known where to begin. Honestly, I've told the stories so many times I just haven't had it in me to write them all down. Someday, I know I will wish I had so I could look back and be satisfied with all we've made it through without being admitted to the psychiatric ward.
Today one of my biggest fears came true. I am thankful though, while it did happen, the worse of it didn't.
This morning Tim, the kids and I sat outside in the backyard. The kids were playing in the water and on the swing set-- it was a typical weekend morning. The kids ran in and out of the house, getting a drink, going to the bathroom, etc., etc.. At one point, Ryen said, "I have to go to the bathroom," just as he always does when we're all together... almost as if he feels he needs to ask permission, which is not something we object to at all. We told him, "Okay, go to the bathroom," just as we do 10 times per day.
After a few minutes, he didn't come back outside. Not atypical on a day like today-- a day of hopeful relaxation. A day that was 90+ degrees outside. Kharter had just gone inside to play Xbox and Trynity followed him to sit on the couch. I looked over at Tim and said, "All the kids are inside alone. That's probably not a good idea, huh?" We chucked a bit and agreed-- thinking the usual tearing up the house and pulling every toy out in the playroom would occur. I slid open the back door to coax the kids back outside with us. Kharter and Trynity were on the couch watching the Ninja Turtles jump around on the screen. I asked them if they wanted to go back outside. I got a no answer. I walked around the corner to the bathroom expecting to see Ryen. He wasn't there. I went to their playroom, around another corner. He wasn't there. As I passed the front door, I noticed the chain was off and the lock was unlocked. I screamed!
Kharter ran to the backyard to get Tim as I swung the front door open, screaming for Ryen. He wasn't there! Fear struck me like I was just hit with a bulldozer. I had hopes that maybe he was upstairs grabbing a toy from his bedroom. All the stories I've read and heard of Autistic children wandering away from home ran through my head as a fast-forwarded movie. Our fear and our precautions taken were not good enough for our curious 5-year-old. He was gone!
I turned around and saw Tim running with panic on his face. I ran outside and saw Ryen just as he reached our mailbox at the edge of the street. He had a plastic figurine in his hand as he ran with a smile towards me. When I reached him I grabbed him as if he had been gone for hours though, at most, he was away from me for 10 minutes.
We got him into the house, yelling and crying all at the same time. Relief and anger simultaneously with the the fear of what could have happened and comfort knowing it didn't.
We looked over to see the ottoman beside the loveseat. Ryen had pushed it over to unlock the high up chain. We guessed at some point we would have to find a better solution but had no idea that he would figure it out so soon.
After we calmed down a bit, we determined that he hadn't gone far-- across the street to the neighbors garden where he surely picked up the frog figurine. Kharter confirmed he did go to the bathroom but didn't hear the front door unlock. The dogs didn't bark as they normally would. By the grace of God, none of the things that could have happened did. I could have waited to check on him thinking he went upstairs to grab a toy or was having a long bathroom session. He could have gotten hit by a car! He could have run further towards the busy suburban road just a half a mile from the house! He could have gone just across the road to the right where two ponds sit next to our subdivision! He could have been picked up by any number of people passing by!
How on earth could we have let this happen?!
A couple months ago, Tim and I were at an IEP meeting with the school district. Some of you may know that we had some disagreements with them about Ryen's kindergarten placement. At the end of this particular meeting, the district rep said that she commended us for being so involved with Ryen's education. She explained she never sees some parents. I thought to myself, "How could that be?" I nodded and we moved on.
That evening, we were discussing the meeting. I looked up to Tim and reminded him of what the district rep had said at the end of the meeting. He felt the same way I did.
We decided to be parents. It wasn't an accident that it happened. We prayed for three years and were finally blessed with a little boy. Later, we were blessed with two more children. We decided to have children and God made it happen. He also decided to bless us with a child with Autism. We didn't have a say in that decision. So life may be a little more challenging for us. We may have to deal with stares at the grocery store, IEP facilitation, mediation-- arguing over what is best for our son, hoping we make the right decisions for him and the other kids, working hard to make it fair for all and still work to take care of everything else we face and wonder why things can't be simple.
If we had been given a part in that decision, I'm sure now we would have chosen wrong. Because now, I can't imagine my life without this little piece of heaven we named Ryen.
We now have a modified electronic deadbolt on our door, along with the regular deadbolt and chain. It took some creativity and an understanding man at the hardware store, watching a mother break down into tears in the middle of the isle, to make it happen. But it did happen. We also have our alarm system somewhat working. A friend came over this evening to set it to alert us when the front door is opened and is doing some research to program it to fully sound in the event the additional lock at the top of the door fails. We also now have keyed locked windows. Not my favorite thing but in the case of an emergency, windows are breakable.
Nothing in the world would hurt me more than losing my family. My children are my life. I am positive I will kick myself every day for the next 50 years for what happened today but thank God at the same time for watching over my boy and bringing him back to us safely.