Dear So and So - or How I lost Max at the Supermarket

Dear So and So...   

I thought I'd mark the events of yesterday by joining in with 3 Bedroom Bungalow 's Dear So and So. For those of you who didn't hear about it on Twitter or Facebook, this is what happened. While I was queuing at the Supermarket till, I sent Max, my eight year old autistic son, to wait for me on a chair - I'm trying to encourage his independence at the moment: I send him to the toilet by himself, get him to wait for me somewhere a few minutes, ask him to go and pick up something at the supermarket while I'm getting something else, etc. So, long story short, when I went to get him he wasn't there. We eventually found out that he'd taken a cab home all by himself and was waiting for us in the concierge's rooms, drinking tea and drawing pictures.

Dear Supermarket Security,

You told us that we shouldn't worry about our son having gone outside because you looked for him on the cameras and didn't see him leave. Maybe you need to be a bit less confident.
You also didn't really do very much to help us find him. And you didn't seem all that worried. Is that because you know that bad things don't happen to children in Turkey? I know that where we are is much much safer than most places. But I also know that you probably don't know that, that like a lot of people, you assume that your world is dangerous and violent and that no one is to be trusted. So why weren't you helping more? Why did not even make an announcement? WTF?

Dear Security People at the Campus Gates,
We heard that when you let Max's taxi in, you asked him questions: where was he going, what was his address. And he replied confidently. We're kind of grateful that you asked. Also, we suspect you called up the concierge at our building to tell him to expect Max. Thank you.

Dear Taxi driver,

My first thought was 'What were you thinking taking in an unaccompanied 8 year old?' Then I realised that you have been chauffeuring our daughter for years when she goes to visit her friends, and that our son is not really much shorter than her. Also, although he's not a great speaker, I've overheard him once or twice speak out loudly and confidently, in a loutish boyish sort of voice that he never uses at home. So thanks for bringing him home instead of letting him wander off, and possibly decide to walk.

Dear Concierge,
I don't know how you ended up collecting Max, or whether you understand why he came home alone in a taxi, but thank you. Thank you for looking after him, making him comfortable, paying for his taxi ride, and complimenting us on the drawing he'd made for you. Thing is, we knew we could rely on you, and if you hadn't been here, we knew we could rely on the shopkeeper across the street. Thank you also for leaving Max's cap on our door so we knew he was home.

Dear 'im indoors,
Thank you for keeping your cool when I called to say I'd lost Max, and for thinking of running up to the campus gate and asking security if they'd seen him. Thank you for finding him. And thank you for not blaming me.

Dear people of Ankara,

Thank you for being kind to children, and for not posing a threat to them. Had we been anywhere else I would have seriously considered the possibility that Max had been abducted. Here I'm pretty confident that a stranger would help my children, not hurt them. Except by driving badly, but that's another story.

Dear Daughter,
You were a star helping me look for your brother. You translated everything for me and looked after our stuff, and asked everyone around if they'd seen him.

Dear Son,
Where do I start? Never ever do this again.
But also, congratulations on finding your own way home when, presumably, you thought you'd lost me. Well done for hopping into a cab and giving the driver clear enough instructions that he got you home. Well done for keeping calm and waiting for us with the concierge. Extremely well done for not having any kind of meltdown during the afternoon or the evening. And for talking about your adventure this morning with a big grin on your face.

You do realise that because you don't talk very much it's hard to know what you are and are not capable of doing? I was pretty sure you would look for me if you were lost, that you probably wouldn't panic. I wasn't sure whether you might go off with a stranger or not. You are very trusting. I didn't think you had it in you to take a cab home by yourself.

Until yesterday I was really pleased with myself for giving you more and more independence, leaving you at a cafe to wait for me while I popped into a shop, telling you to go to the toilet by yourself, holding your sister's hand to cross the road to the shop to buy bread. Now I'm glad we're going to be away for a couple of weeks, so I don't rethink all of this in a panic.

Please try and stay safe.

Your worried mother.

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@jomica said...

Argh, Sandrine, I feel your panic. I've been there myself with my autistic teenager. I'm so glad everything worked out okay.

And, you're right, it is very hard to know how much freedom and responsibility to allow. But keep bashing away at it ... one day he will need his wings to fly.


Sandrine said...

Thanks Jomica - you're helping build up my confidence. It's my instinct too not to stop trying because of the one drama. Yesterday I cunningly let my husband take him out to the shops, so I wouldn't have to make a decision. Then from tomorrow, we have two weeks of beach, and when we're back, I'll be calm enough to start again, I hope.

PhotoPuddle said...

That must have been so scary. So pleased your story had a happy ending.

Sandrine said...

So am I! Thanks for commenting!

Marylin said...

Oh jeez I would have been terrified! Thank goodness he got home safely!

Very Bored in Catalunya said...

My gosh what a terrifying experience for you. So please Max got himself home safely, you must be so proud of him. xx

Sandrine said...

Marilyn, I was terrified - but you know how it is: you don't really feel it till after it's over.
Very Bored, Yes, I am immensely proud of him. And I was even a little chuffed and amused when I found out what he'd done. It seemed like so much more than I would have thought him capable of. Such a big deal.

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