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The Wanderer

 Question: When is Thursday really Wednesday?

Answer: When you had Monday off and you’re working Saturday, which has you so turned around you forgot to you were supposed to blog today.

Which is a roundabout way of explaining why you’re getting a post from my archives, but given the fun and games we’ve been having with our son since he started kindergarten, any of you who follow me on Twitter or chat in other places will appreciate that, yes, it’s always been like this.

The Wanderer

We have tried to teach our kid manners. Honest. We did not train him to rifle your cupboards when we come to visit. It must have been the daycare lady. We also wish he was slightly less inclined to wander off on his own.

For those of you who get exasperated because your kids are afraid of the dark? It’s also not so great having one that has no qualms about going for a stroll at eleven at night…by himself.

He’s been this way for as long as he’s been mobile. And yes, he has scared us to the point of someone sleeping on the couch on more than one occasion. (Come on, parents, admit it. You’ve all had the “I thought you were watching him!” fight.)

At least it’s better now that we live on the ranch, away from traffic and abduction-minded strangers and the big irrigation ditch that ran right in front of our house in Oregon.

Not long before we moved back to Montana, my husband and Logan were home alone. Greg was shoeing a horse. Logan was playing with his tractors in the sand nearby. Nice thing about Hermiston, the whole place is one big sandbox. Greg hammered in the last two nails, set the horse’s foot down, and turned to check on Logan.


He had sixty seconds head start, max. The pickup and trailer were parked between the barn and the house. Greg zipped around it to check the other side. No Logan. He hustled into the house, figuring Logan had gone for snacks. Not there.

Uh-oh. The irrigation ditch.

He sprinted outside and through the twenty yards of sagebrush to the ditch. No boy in sight. By now, Greg was in a panic, yelling for Logan, for all the good it did, because he didn’t ever feel the need to answer. Greg dashed back toward the house–just in time to see Logan come strolling out of the neighbor’s driveway, munching a strawberry Pop-Tart.

Definitely one of those if-I-weren’t-so-happy-to-see-you-I’d-kill-you moments.Especially when Greg realized the neighbor wasn’t even home.

Kari Lynn Dell   Montana for Real

10 Responses

  1. OMG, Kari! Well, look at it this way. If he (and you) survive his childhood (I’m not even going to tell you about the teenage years, you’d run for the knife drawer!) He’s going to end up a strong, independent thinking, great person!

    No yo-yo child for you – he’ll leave the nest and fly!

  2. You got my mom parts shivering while reading this. Scary stuff! ((hugs to you))

    We have 2 ponds around the house, so we put in those hotel chain locks at the TOP of all the doors. He can’t get outside unless he opens those (we put them in wide apart too). He’d have to move a kitchen chair (which are bar stool height, solid wood and heavy) and I’m a light sleeper. So we’re covered at night.

    During the day, I am SO THANKFUL my kid is shy. Doesn’t matter where we are, if an adult even smiles and waves at him, he’ll hide behind us. Don’t even think about touching him either. He tries scrunching himself into a ball to evade you. you know, the shoulders to the ears thing.

    There is a surprisingly large number of people who don’t realize they could be creepers. People sometimes look offended that my kid hides/runs away instead of waving back or saying thank you if they tell him he’s a cute boy. Seriously. So we laugh and say, “Good job Son. That could have been Stranger Danger.” …and the stranger then seems to get it.

    • So true about strangers, Keri. A really good book about that is THE GIFT OF FEAR by Gavin DeBecker. He talks about how our need to be polite sometimes overrides our common sense/instincts.

  3. Funny, but scary, Kari! Once when we lived on base in OKC, my oldest (two at the time) locked me out of the house. I took two steps from the door to put something in the mailbox–in my tiny pajamas!–and he shut the door. Bottom lock was turned. Argh! I went to all the doors and windows, but he had no interest in letting me back in.

    About 30 minutes later my neighbor came home and she called the maintenance guy to let me back in. Now we have keypad locks. Never locked out!

    There’s a reason kids are cute. It’s natural protection.

  4. This story will sound like something out of the 1950 or 1960. So many people have forgotten what small town life is like.

    Funny story! I always enjoying hearing about my “Adam” model!

  5. Kari,
    Those heart-stopping moments stay with us forever, along with the sweet relief afterward. My youngest grandson is following in his father’s footsteps as a wanderer, also. And he’ll head outdoors barefooted and jacketless in all kinds of weather if something catches his attention. We had an alarm system installed with a little chime if a door opens for any reason. When he’s visiting, it gets a workout!

  6. So scary!!! Heart stopping moment for sure! Boys are different from girls. I learned that the hard way. Never can tell what my son is thinking. He’ll be 13 in April. We’ve had several of these moments when he’s just up and left. He was there one minute gone the next. The worst was on the bank of the Cane River after a fireworks show. He was two. The only reason we spotted him as he walked down the street with the crowd was because of the red hoodie he was wearing. I still have no idea where he was going! ACK!!

    • Probably the only good thing about a computer game addiction is that Logan has stopped wandering so much. When we first moved to the ranch he was three and adored riding on the tractors, especially the big red one. He snuck out of the house one afternoon while I was over at my mother’s fetching laundry and hiked over the hill to where my dad was seeding grain. Marched right out into the middle of the field and stood in the row so Dad had to stop, but he refused to let him get in the tractor because he was so horrified. By then I’d realized which direction he’d headed and tracked him down, but still….sheesh.

    • Oh, this isn’t gender specific! When my oldest daughter was 2 or 3, we were in Sears, having an intense discussion about a dishwasher or something. She was RIGHT at our feet, partly hiding in a rack of beach towels. 30 seconds later, I looked down, and she was gone. She crawled all the way across the store and we found her near the women’s fitting room.

      Still, Kari, your son beats everything I’ve ever heard. LOL He’s truly one of a kind! 🙂

      • Hah! Actually, my parents think this is all sort of hilarious given that I was their wanderer. My mother can’t count the number of times she checked all the well houses in a panic because she couldn’t find me. Lucky for them we had this big white Pekinese that followed me everywhere and sat in front of the barn in full sight while I was crawling around in the hayloft looking for kittens.

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