Jack on the run againI’ve been avoiding writing this for over a month, because it is about one of my most paralyzing fears: Losing Jackson. Just the other day, I forced myself to close the computer after catching the headline about the boy with autism whose body was found on the beach. I cannot fathom, and I do not wish to imagine.

Imagination is not required since my boy is set on breaking out and running again. He has been perfectly content to flap around the yard and beat a muddy path through the middle of the grass by pushing his little brother’s ride-on truck back and forth, but the blissful enjoyment (for him and me) can’t last forever, I guess. He peers through the fence, and sees…what? The neighbors’ playhouse? Their open back door? A low, free-swinging gate? A longing grows day after day until finally, he HAS to get out. HAS to run. He sneaks behind the shed, kicks out a board, and is gone.

Those seconds of panic when I realize he’s kicked out a board and escaped through the privacy fence into the neighbors’ yard, and I can’t fit through…I rush to the street looking four ways at the corner and only seeing a man walking his dog a few blocks down. Maybe he ducked into the neighbors’ house to explore?

As I careen around the corner to barge through their front door and hopefully retrieve my escapee, a lady a few houses down the busy street steps out of her car and asks, “You looking for a little boy, red shorts?” “YES!” “Way past that man walking his dog.” What?!? The tiny figure four eternally long blocks down? How the heck did he get so far so fast? I’m already shouting “Jack!” and clomping down the sidewalk in horrible garden shoes wishing I had my running shoes on, and wondering if he’s suddenly turned into Dash from the Incredibles, and if he’ll stay on the side walk or jump out to greet a passing car, and if he’ll look before he crosses that next intersection….After shouting “Jack, stop!” repeatedly, I realize that the red shorts are actually running back toward me. I don’t slow until he’s firmly in my arms.

“Why–? Where–? What–? You can’t just run off by yourself! That’s not safe!” Stop. Slow down. Choose your words. “What do you want?” (Wait…) “Go to Miss Janae’s house.” He was heading back to our old house, but he knows it’s not “home” anymore. It’s our dear friend’s home and the place where his favorite flapping trees live. My voice cracks as I try to speak slowly and calmly, “I–Mama can drive to Miss Janae’s house. No running to Miss Janae’s house. That’s not safe! You have to stop and get your grown up.”

So we slog back to the house in our horrible running shoes, me babbling and crying, searching for the right words, wondering how to explain, how to prevent, how to protect. Jack, hand in mine, not fighting, somehow resigned that his solo adventure is over.

So now here I am researching identification bracelets, tracking devices, fences, monitoring systems, door and window alarms, wondering why I have waited this long. Wondering how many times my son has been deterred, caught, or distracted from an escape that may not have turned out this way. I wonder if little ones like him are assigned specially trained guardian angels. I ought to request one while I’m ordering.

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7 Responses to “On the Run Again”

  1. Jane Cooley says:

    Comming back when called is a major improvement from a couple of years ago!

    Some family plan cell phones include locators (& limits) on kids phones if there was some way to be sure he had it with him. (If someone found him they could also call you). Just a thought.

  2. Joseph says:

    Breaks my heart, Jason. I wish I had more words, but I don’t. Thanks for posting. I’m praying for God to more greatly enter in to his life, your lives, and this whole situation. May there be more of God in all of this.

  3. Joseph says:

    You too, Sara. Didn’t mean to leave you out.

  4. Sara says:

    Thanks, Joseph. I accidentally posted as Jason, but it is something we both feel!

  5. Sara says:

    That is the trick, Aunt Jane, finding something that he will always have on him when HE decides to take off. There are some tracking devices (almost like parolee ankle cuffs), or some that look more like a watch that will text/call us if he goes outside a preset radius. Just trying to find one that he would leave on and that won’t be destroyed if he gets it wet.

  6. Nan Cooley says:

    Would he leave something around his neck? Maybe he could have some kind of tracking device that would be around his neck under his shirt. If he doesn’t see it maybe he would leave it alone. Thinking of you and praying you are able to find a solution soon. I do think God gives more angels to those who need it.

  7. Sara says:

    I wish he would, but I am 99.9% sure it would be off within seconds.:) Thanks for your prayers!


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