by SHANKARI CHANDRAN
My two and a half year old son Sid can be a real pain in the arse sometimes. He seems to be embracing both The Terrible Twos and The Threenager personas simultaneously and with enthusiasm.
He can be heard saying regularly “I gonna beat you Poo Poo,” followed by a triple sashay kick to the reproductive organs of anyone in his way. We’ve asked the older kids not to watch Ninjago around him any more and Husband has taken to walking around the house with his hands over his balls, without any other purpose in mind, honestly.
Out of all of our four children, nature has clearly left the strongest-willed until last, perhaps realising that if we’d had him first there might have been no others.
On the weekend we took the kids to a family birthday party. It was chaotic and raucous as children’s parties should be and when it was time to go I told Sid that we needed to put our shoes on and go to the car. Sid said “OK Poo Poo,” and before I could make our exit, I realised I couldn’t find my car keys.
After a good ten minutes of searching bags, shoes, toilets and all the other obvious places one might leave car keys, my cousin said “Where’s Sid?”
I started to look around but not anxiously. The house had been secure and Sid never goes anywhere without me. He can be a limpet sometimes, fixing himself to my body like an uncoordinated third leg. I was looking but not finding, and I could feel my throat starting to close in that way it does when I’m afraid, when another cousin called me on my mobile to say she had Sid.
He had walked out of the house, across a suburban street and down four houses to wait at our car. My cousin had parked behind my car and she was leaving the party at precisely the right time to find him.
I really don’t want to think about the “what if’s” of Saturday afternoon but they bubble up in my mind frequently; a recurring nightmare that plagues me whilst I am awake. What if, what if, what if?
At night, Sid still co-sleeps with us. We are sleep school failures and I am resigned to this. Since Saturday afternoon I have been relishing it. I wake up in the night and watch him, wedged in the crook of my shoulder.
Whilst he sleeps, I trace the curve of his perfectly round head that protects his brain; I count the small ridges of his ribcage that protect his heart and lungs; I grip the strong muscle and bone of his legs that are now confident enough to run away from me. I promise him I will protect him better tomorrow. I watch him breathe deeply and as he exhales, I inhale him. Unknown to Sid, I kiss the eyes and the lips that usually sparkle with mischief, and I say quietly, fearfully and gratefully to the universe, “thank you, thank you, thank you.”
Shankari Chandran is a recent returner after ten years in London. Formerly a social justice lawyer, Shankari chronicles the day-to-day of her family’s return on her blog.
Have you ever lost your child or when you were a kid, did you ever get lost?