Earlier in the week, I sent my kids out to play in the neighborhood as I sometimes allow them to do. The roads are small here, good sidewalks, speed limit 20, everyone knows everyone. Basically it's as safe a place as we could get without my constant parental eye overseeing every possible action.
Usually, the kids come to me and tell me each and every time they are about to start a new activity or go to a new location. This can get annoying if they are in a bout of indecision and come running to me every two minutes with new plans that are hardly different from each other, but at the end of the day, the annoyance is worth it because I know where my kids are and I can go check on them whenever I need to.
Until, of course, earlier this week, when unbeknownst to me, the girls thought it would be a great idea to ditch their scooters on one side of a field, trek across to the other side, go through some bushes, and climb a fence into a farm area that was most definitely not part of the neighborhood.
Once there, apparently, they decided to explore a little; at least enough so that they became totally turned around. Half an hour later, I had two young girls burst into my house yelling MOMMY, MOMMY, at the top of their lungs.
They were so happy to see me, they said. They didn't even care if they got punished, they said. They were just glad to be home and safe, they said.
(I'm thinking it's one too many after-school live-action Disney shows that told them the appropriate way to react in this situation.)
They were scratched up from thorns when they couldn't find their easy-access route back to the field and decided to Rambo it under the fence through the thick shrubbery. Heck, one of them had her pants torn open, from a thorn or something. Thankfully there was no blood (which means no emergency room. Yay!)
Their delight at being back home and their willingness to be punished diminished quickly however, when they discovered that real life concern and redirection take longer than the end-credit roll of a sit-com. As they were doing dishes and cleaning the living room with me, their gratefulness to be back home ebbed away and they longed to go back outside and play. I allowed them the fenced-in backyard, which drew complaints, but they knew everything had to calm down before I'd let them out on their own again.
We went over the "tell me every single time you change places" spiel again, and they seemed to renew their loyalty to it.
So, today, for the first time since the incident, I let them out again, this time armed with walkie-talkies so that they could contact me at any moment. I thought it would be a safety precaution, in case they ended up turned around again, or, at the very least, the weight of the contraption on their waistline would remind them to stick to known areas lest they get themselves in trouble.
What it was instead?
A constant, every-30-second barrage. "Mom. MOM. Mom, can you hear me?"
"Mom, I love you."
"Mom, what time is it?"
"Mom, Dulce is teasing me."
"Mom, can we knock on our friend's door?"
"Mom. WE LOVE YOU, MOM."
"Mom. Hello? Mom?"
It's nice to be loved and needed, but I think next time we'll forego the walkie-talkies. If my kids know how to do anything, it's how to overdo it.