As our family unit trooped out the front door the other day, Baby Bear did something he hasn’t done in a very long time: He took off running.
Usually he goes straight to the car—actually, for reasons known only to him, he always goes around the back of the car to the other side—and then he gets in the back seat. But on this day, as he walked behind the car, something caught his attention, and he suddenly broke into a run down the street.
Mr. Lucky had just gone back into the house because he forgot something—he always forgets something, either his keys, or his wallet, or his cell phone, or his pants—occasionally the first three items will be in the pockets of the pants, but it’s never the pair he’s wearing. Sometimes I think he forgets his brain, which I suspect he keeps in a jar when not in use, but then he can’t find the jar. Since he even gets lost in the house while looking for stuff, I knew it was up to me to chase down the boy.
Our not-so-baby-anymore Bear is thirteen years old, and seventy-five inches tall. I’m—well, I’m a lot older than thirteen, and seventy-one inches tall. He was wearing athletic shoes. I was wearing sandals. Advantage: Bear.
I yelled his name as he ran down the street in a straight line. He has no sense of danger, and I feared he wouldn’t dodge out of the way of any oncoming vehicle. He thinks it’s fun to crash into me, so why not a Mack truck?
Indeed, there was a truck parked on the street, engine roaring, door wide open. It was a large truck, belonging to a lawn maintenance company that was fertilizing someone’s lawn. This meant loud machinery, hazardous chemicals, big hoses snaking everywhere, and people wielding tools that could easily double as weapons. Baby Bear was dashing headlong into a danger zone.
He rushed straight to the open door of the truck. Oh no, I thought, not again. He’s done this before—he sees a strange vehicle with a wide open door, he dives right in, and refuses to budge until we can get a hostage negotiator with a megaphone to promise him donuts, if only he’ll stop reprogramming the radio stations and redirecting the air vents, and come out.
There was no way I could catch up to him before he reached the truck and leaped into it. I only had to get him out of there before he put it into drive and took it for a joyride, careening down the street, knocking down garbage cans and mailboxes, and dragging behind him whoever was on the other end of the hose attached to that tank in the back end of the truck.
Oh yes, I had the whole ghastly picture in my head already--drawn, painted, signed, and framed, ready to hang on the wall and be admired and contemplated by wine-bibbing aficionados of art and connoisseurs of chaos. Why wait, when I can panic now?
I yelled his name again as he reached the open door and . . . He slammed it shut.
Then he did an about face and calmly walked toward me, oblivious to the workers and their noisy equipment. His own work was done.
The workers only smiled and waved at me, good sports all. Clearly they knew kids like mine.
Baby Bear went back to our car and got in, ready to go.
No hostage negotiations were necessary this time. But he still wanted his donuts.
He got them.