Four Year Old Escapologist

Around 6pm, Midi Minx skipped into the kitchen. The Boss and I were cooking dinner and she sniffed at the pork biryani and apple strudel.

Then she remembered what she’d come in for. “Mummy, Mini’s outside playing with A on her scooter”, she said calmly. The 3 girls were watching Ice Age on the DVD next door: how could Mini be outside?

We dropped everything and The Boss raced outside. Sure enough, she was playing with the wee girl next door and the wee girl’s granddad, in the street. The Boss scooped her up and the scooter, to her frustrated screams of indignation, and marched her indoors.

From Hallowe'en costume or future attire?!

From Hallowe’en costume or future attire?!

Through her roars of protest I explained why we were upset. If something bad had happened to her, Mummy and Daddy wouldn’t have known where she was. We wouldn’t have been able to help her. If something really terrible had happened, she’d never have seen Mummy, Daddy, Maxi, Midi or Killer Cat ever, ever again. And we’d have cried and cried and cried. We’d never have known where she was. We’d have looked for her in every cupboard, in every corner of the house, in every garden in the street. We’d have called her name out and cried and cried. And never seen her again.

She got the message. I’d certainly laid it on thick enough.

Somehow she’d managed to escape without any of us noticing: she’d had to get out the chair she’d been snuggling next to Midi in, go to her bedroom, fetch out and dress herself in a long-sleeved tee-shirt and leggings (normally she howls in protest when we insist that her arms and legs are covered when she goes out on the bike or scooter!), put on her shoes, get her scooter, fetch a little chair and stool and climb up to open the door, go out and close the door behind her, and go join her wee friend whom she’d seen playing outside from the living room window. All this under the noses of 2 older sisters and 2 parents.

I’m glad that Midi’s eyes are pretty sharp when she’s wearing her specs!

Mini went quite berserk and wanted to hide in the cupboard. Neither I nor The Boss shouted, but we told her she couldn’t leave our sight and had to either sit up at table for dinner or sit on the kitchen floor right beside us. She thrashed around a bit, angry and upset, suddenly wanting her bed. So The Boss fetched her little mattress and put it beside the dinner table, with her pillow, duvet and favourite toy. She threw herself under the covers and had an angry shout for a bit while we ignored her.

After the rest of us had half-finished dinner, I peeped under her covers and suggested she come and eat: she must be hungry. No. She hated me. I calmly explained that she was never, ever to leave the house without telling me. I loved her very much and didn’t want bad things to happen. I was very glad she was ok. She threw herself on my neck and sobbed. She did want dinner. On my lap. I made her promise not to leave the house without telling me again. She promised, and bounded up in her chair to wolf her dinner down.

When her sisters went out with The Boss for an after-dinner cycle around the street, Mini shrieked again at not being allowed out. I explained the concept of ‘being grounded’ and why she was being punished. I’d expected her to protest more, but apart from a token whine (that’s sounding exactly like the cry from George of Peppa Pig…) she accepted my decision suspiciously well.

She decided that she really was tired and wanted to go to bed, so I had a bit of a treat getting to do the bedtime routine for once: helping her brush her teeth, wash, snuggle in her favourite nightie (a frou-frou lacy, flouncy horror that I’d sewn to her exacting specification last month) and a bedtime story. Within half an hour, she was nearly asleep. Exhausted.

I’m not sure I handled her escaping and return very well, but I’m tired and not thinking on my feet too fast. I know lots of children her age do exactly the same – I know that 3 of her uncles did! – but her sisters didn’t. Has your child gone walkies like this? How did you handle it?

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