Lifestyle, Parenthood

My Baby is a Runaway

December 9, 2014

Molly is an aspiring runaway. She is curious and determined and fast. Those baby crawling skills were cute when they applied to sneaking into bathrooms or crawling under beds, but now she has her sights set on more lofty goals.

She repeatedly insists on running away; as in escaping the house; as in crawling out the front door, side door, or any door left slightly ajar.

Before I continue with this story, I need you to understand that we don’t live in a tranquil corner of suburbia. We don’t have a house with a personal garage or a fenced yard or a front door that leads to a private walkway. We live in downtown San Diego in a second-floor apartment that overlooks a Starbucks, Italian deli, and extremely busy intersection that is required passage for anyone on their way to the airport.

The nearest patch of grass is three blocks away and our garage door is across the street from a very popular sports bar. We open and close our windows based on whether or not someone is chain smoking below. We know it’s bedtime when the deli turns its fluorescent “open” sign off.

Suffice it to say, if Molly found a way to crawl out of our apartment building, the first person to encounter her would likely be a homeless person or a cab driver. Neither of these options sounds like a good idea.

During pregnancy, we considered moving out of the city. We considered buying a second car. We considered spending more time at home, investing in cable television, and turning our oven on more. But then we didn’t. We never bought the second car. We never bought a baby monitor. We didn’t sell the scooter or baby proof anything at all. We just decided to wing it— to be ourselves and trust that God invested in us the sort of baby that liked adventure and simplicity as much as we did.

And so far it has mostly worked. We don’t need a baby monitor because we hear Molly when she cries. We continue to share a car, even if it’s a hassle once in awhile. We still live downtown, still walk around the neighborhood and say hello to our neighbors— including the ones who make their homes on the front steps of our building.

We’ve never admitted this out loud, but I think Mike and I smugly assumed we had beaten the system. We thought we were seamlessly cool and hip, still aware of underground music trends because of the youths who drove by our house with their music blaring and windows down. I freely admit that we absorb a lot of secondhand cool. It is our primary intake of cool.

Sure, there are annoying things about the city. Loading groceries in and out of an elevator while carrying a sleeping baby is less than ideal. Getting stuck in gridlock traffic two blocks from our house with a screaming child in the backseat? Not my favorite. And if one more needless car horn or over-masculinized motorcycle wakes up my sleeping baby, I am going to rain unadulterated hellfire from my patio ledge.

You get the idea.

But the figurative straw that broke the figurative camel’s back was the frequency with which this city baby kept trying to run away.

The sliding glass door in our living room opens to a second-story wrought-iron-fenced patio ledge that overlooks the busy scene described above. Months ago, our dog scratched a tear in the bottom of the screen door that was just big enough for her small doggie self to slide outside. We thought this a convenient mishap and felt actual satisfaction at the idea of our dog accessing sunshine and polluted air at her leisure.

The dog-made doggie door didn’t present itself as an issue until yesterday- when Molly realized that she, too, could squeeze her little baby-self through the screen door. I caught her by the ankles.

Perhaps Molly was taking it upon herself to personally wish all passengers safe travels on their way to the airport.

Maybe she signed herself up for Neighborhood Watch and forgot to tell me.

Maybe she was trying to convince friendly strangers to hook her up with some Starbucks (or at least a scone or something).

The problem is that at the exact moment I divert my eyes to, say, speed-pee, sneeze, or check the time, this baby is out like a flash and I’m trying to figure out where she went and how she got there so fast.

It’s like constantly reliving scenes from the Home Alone movies— except Molly is the cool, gadgety kid and I’m the dumber half of the Wet Bandits. I keep tripping on things and hurting myself.

Now all doors and windows are officially sealed during daytime hours, but I think it still might be time to move. I think I’m finally ready leave the city and have a driveway again.

The tricky part is that the military already has those plans in motion. We just don’t know if this summer we are moving 10 miles or 2,500 miles.

I’m sorry to say there really isn’t any new news on that front. We are waiting and pacing and praying. Mike submitted his list of preferred locations and it was half San Diego and half new frontiers. Now we distract ourselves until we hear official word and I resolve to only act on one of every ten impulses to ask Mike, “So, any news today?”

Perhaps this is what’s motivating Molly’s escapism. Maybe she’s just trying to escape the indecision that keeps swirling around our now-airtight apartment.

I don’t blame her. The world just outside our reach is always more exciting than the one within it. On the other side of a torn screen door, the possibilities are endless. Molly just happens to be fearless enough to investigate each one; to crawl right up to it, inspect it, and put it in her mouth.

Meanwhile, I trip and fall behind her and chastise myself for taking a moment to blink.