It's been awhile since we had a Kenna story to share. Now that this incident is a few days behind us, it's a little bit easier to write about, especially since it has a happy ending. So, just a warning for the grandmas--this is not for the faint of heart!
Wednesday the older three kids were on a field trip with the church kids' ministry. Two neighbor boys went along. I was to pick everyone up from the church at 5:30. Lucan had been sick with a high fever and runny nose since Tuesday morning, so Ted offered to come home a little bit early so I wouldn't have to take Lucan and Kenna with me to get all the older kids.
So, Ted comes home, we play pass the baby, I hop in the Suburban and drive off. About two minutes before I pull into the church parking lot, my cell phone rings. It's Ted, asking me if I brought Kenna with me. Uh, oh...I did NOT. I said goodbye to her along with Ted.
Rewind a little and I'll tell you what was happening at home. Apparently right after I left, Kenna informed Ted she wanted to go with me. Ted said, "Sorry, sweetie, but Mama's already gone." She started crying, but it was too late, and Ted had his hands full with a very crabby, fussy Lucan. He took Lucan to the bedroom so he could change out of his uniform. As he finished changing, he realized the house was quiet--strange, since Kenna was throwing a fit last he knew. He came out of his room to find that she was nowhere in the house, so he called me.
Not realizing that Kenna was upset that I had left her at home, I suggested that Ted try looking around the cul-de-sac in front of our house; perhaps she had decided to run around to find a friend. (She HAS done similar things before...but usually there is actually someone out there playing whom she wants to be with.) Ted left Lucan in the house, thinking he would step outside and find Kenna within moments.
Meanwhile, I was frantically gathering my brood from church and praying the phone would ring, since I had asked Ted to call me as soon as he had found Kenna. No call came in. I tried calling several times (at one point accidentally dialing my mother-in-law's number) and finally reached him at home, where a screaming Kenna was in the background.
Here's what had happened: Kenna REALLY wanted to go with me, and being three, had no concept of how fast she could run vs. how fast I was driving. She took off out of the neighborhood. And when I say "out," I mean OUT. She ran up the street that leaves our neighborhood and goes to a busy two-lane road. PRAISE THE LORD a man driving out of the neighborhood saw her at the CORNER of this intersection, got out of his minivan, and stopped her. A neighbor in the cul-de-sac behind us who was mowing his lawn got off the riding lawnmower and came over as well. We don't know anyone in the cul-de-sac behind us, but apparently the neighbor (who we later learned is Rich) thought he recognized Kenna. He told Mr. Minivan that this happens "all the time." (???)
Meanwhile, Ted is searching for Kenna in front of our house and toward the other cul-de-sac, the one where we know all the neighbors and Kenna often plays. Not finding her, he comes around the house and happens to look up the street and sees her pink shirt. He hurries up to her and finds her with the two men, who apparently had been asking her what her name was and where she lived. She never did answer them, and when Ted came, she didn't respond much to him either, keeping her eyes down, because she obviously knew she was NOT supposed to be where she was!
Rich slinked back to his lawnmower, and Mr. Minivan proceeded to completely chew Ted out, as if he wasn't already frantic enough. When Ted tried to take Kenna back home, the man wouldn't let him leave, saying, "Oh, no, the cops are on the way, and you're gonna stay here until they arrive." Ted tried explaining that there was a one-year-old in the house, but this man was pretty belligerent, insisting that he "should have thought about that before" and that he "needed to take more responsibility," among other things.
Ted, who does NOT like conflict and was understandably very shaken up by this point, waited the few minutes it took for the policeman to arrive. After a few minutes, the policeman was assured that Kenna indeed belonged to Ted and let them go, advising Ted to purchase a deadbolt for our door immediately. (As an aside, he obviously doesn't know Kenna if he thinks a deadbolt is going to contain her, LOL.)
It was a very emotional evening for all of us. First and foremost, we are so thankful to God that Kenna was prevented from running any farther and that she was not hurt in any way during the whole ordeal. At the same time, I still feel righteous indignation at the way Ted was treated by a complete stranger, who had (in my opinion) no right to speak to Ted the way he did. He doesn't know our family--he doesn't know anything about Ted. How would he have felt if the situation were reversed? I know I should just be grateful that he stopped to help, but it still angers me that he acted the way he did.
As for the neighbor, I just couldn't let it rest that he had told Mr. Minivan that this happens "all the time," and Mr. Minivan had even told Ted that Rich had told him the cops are called out here "all the time" because of this. What in the world?!?! As I assured Ted, the policeman could easily verify that this was not the case--police have never been called out because of any of our children! But I still didn't understand why Rich had said this.
So after dinner we went over and introduced ourselves and asked him about it. "Oh, yeah," he said. "She's running out here all the time. That's why I recognized her. I figured you guys just had free-range kids or something."
I cannot even begin to describe my shock. I will be the first to admit that there have been times when Kenna has "escaped" from the back yard or impetuously run across the street to play with a friend. But we have always gone right after her, and she has NEVER (to my knowledge) run in the direction of that neighbor's house, away towards the entrance/exit to our neighborhood. Why would she?! She doesn't know anyone up that way, and the only reason she did so this particular night was because she was in a screaming rage and was, in her mind, going to find Mommy and ride with her to church.
When I asked Rich if he could tell me what time of day, or what days, or anything about when this supposedly happens, he just said, "Various times." I don't know why he would say such a thing, but neither Ted nor I really believe it. I hope we're not in denial, but I just can't imagine that Kenna would run away multiple times and we would have absolutely no clue about it happening. She is rarely outside without someone else in our family with her, and when she's playing in the back yard by herself, I'm always in the kitchen where I can see her. She's not even allowed in the front yard by herself, for cryin' out loud! And honestly, if that were really happening, would YOU as a neighbor just let a 3-year-old run wild without at least trying to find out where she lived or who she belonged to?! "Free-range kids," indeed! Please!
So, I have no idea what to do with that other than try to let it go! We did ask the older kids if they had ever seen Kenna running in that direction, and they vehemently denied it, saying the same thing I've iterated here.
All's well that ends well, I guess. Now when I leave the house, we make a point to explain to Kenna that she'll be staying with Daddy while I go do such-and-such. We're hoping all the trauma from Wednesday will be a lesson she will long remember!