Last night, I experienced every parent’s worst nightmare: a missing child. My five-year-old son walked out of the house around 10:30 p.m. while everyone was in bed. Our bedrooms are literally back-to-back, and we had just spoken with him about turning the TV off. When we checked on him five minutes later, his light was on and his room was empty…
We raced through the house calling for him. My husband noticed the garage door unlocked, and partially closed. My mind shut off, while I raced around the yard in a t-shirt and bare feet, calling his name. Chuck jumped in the truck, and drove down the driveway to the neighbors where Whalen’s little friend lives. He was no where to be found. We live in a rural area, literally in the middle of the woods, where bears and other wildlife make their homes. I was strangely calm while I searched the backyard and surrounding woods, looking in the tent, the hot tub, even checking the chest freezer in the garage. He was nowhere to be found.
Chuck called his sister and his parents while he was driving around the immediate area. My sister-in-law and her kids, my father-in-law, and my niece all showed up at the house, ready to search for him. As I was getting ready to call the police, my telephone rang. My mother-in-law, who lives a mile and half away, said he walked in the front door about twenty seconds after my father-in-law left. He said, “Hi, Nanny! I walked here in the dark-time!” When I heard those words, “I’ve got Whalen,” I broke into little tiny pieces. I couldn’t breathe. Extreme thoughts raced through my mind, more so when I saw him come through our front door in shorts, a t-shirt, and bare feet. I still have no idea how he made it over there so fast with his little legs, no shoes, and no flashlight.
My five-year-old was missing for fifteen minutes that felt like five years. As I think about it rationally, now that he’s safe and sound, I can’t help but be angry. Yes, angry. See, Whalen’s not your typical child. He’s got problems. The doctors claim it’s ADHD, which seems like a catch-all category these days. Maybe it is ADHD, but guess what kids, there’s something else going on here! However, God forbid you should give your opinion as a parent to the caregiver… The answer I get: “Here’s (insert stimulant name here). Let’s give this drug a try. I’ll see you in a month.”
Excuse me, did I hear you correctly? I’m in your office crying about the behavior, the sleepless nights, the shit smeared on my walls and his hands daily, and the fears that he will hurt himself or someone else, but all you can offer me is an experiment? Here’s a pill, let’s go a month and see if it works? And it’s not just one doctor. This child has seen a multitude of specialists, all of whom, even the God of Neurodevelopment who interned at the Mayo Clinic, have released him from care, stating, “I can’t help you anymore.” ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
What does it take to get someone to care? Does my child have to kill someone, or injure himself so severely that he needs hospitalization before we’ll step up? I am doing my job as a parent. Six out of seven nights a week, I’m sleeping on our lumpy couch during his four a.m. forays into the kitchen. My steak knives are put up and away. I won’t allow a gun in my house. I clean his shit up off of my walls and floors everyday without complaint, although there have been tears. Why can’t the professionals step up and do their job? Why must I beat my head against a brick wall?
I don’t have the answers. I apologize for the rant, but I am completely open to comments, or suggestions! One more thing: My son was missing for fifteen minutes, and I felt like the world would end. I cannot imagine what parents go through when their child is missing and there is no happy ending. My heart goes out to those parents and children.