Fugitives on the run

I often say that raising a kid is a lot like training a dog.

Grossly oversimplified, but it’s true.

Unfortunately, one of the kids is behaving a bit too much like the dog.

As I’ve chronicled before, Maisie’s a constant flight risk, requiring frequent retrieval from her romps down by the river.

Well, Hadley’s been on the loose as well.

(And let me interject here that while he does not eat stink bugs or sift through cat litter, the Boy’s no patron saint. He’s blog fodder but there’s no denying that the 2-year-old’s been on the lamb.)

The first few episodes were pure parental misjudgment: Just because one kid sleeps late and is unwaveringly mesmerized by the idiot box, doesn’t mean the other kid will follow. We assumed that it was safe to jump on morning chores while the rug-rats were sleeping. But we discovered that Hadley rises early, gives the TV a cursory nod, then buzzes out the door.

One winter morning I returned from a crack-of-dawn gym workout and noticed tiny footprints etched in the frost on the deck. They led down the stairs and disappeared in the grass. Glancing up the driveway I spotted Martin and the dog…and distantly trailing them, a pajama-clad kid — with no shoes or jacket — picking her way along the rocks and gravel.

After a few of these incidents, we’ve modified our stellar parenting skills — we no longer leave sleeping kids unattended while we’re out and about.

But last weekend a new challenge arose. My friend Linda and I were walking our horses to the nearby indoor ring while Martin ate breakfast with the kids. We had nearly reached the neighbor’s barn when Linda’s horse, Mingo, stopped in his tracks. He craned his head backwards to look at the small figure — this time in boots, still no jacket — sprinting in leg-flailing-toddler fashion toward us. Hadley had run out the door, across the yard, through the barn, out the open gate and through the pasture. She was breathless when she reached us.

What are you doing? I asked.
Looking for you, she said. I found you.
Where is your Dad?
In the house, she said casually.

So parental presence no longer discourages the roaming Barbarian.

Our short-term solution has been to secure the gate on the deck with a leadrope. And so far that’s hampered her travels. But the other night Hadley deftly scaled what we thought was an unclimbable railing.

So the next step is to rethink our door locking mechanisms. And perhaps invest in an ankle tracking device.

For both the dog and the kid.