He's a pretty independent soul. Always insisting he can get his own breakfast, dress himself, get himself into his carseat, and more.
His catch phrase is always "My do it myself!!"
Will and I are always joking about it, and saying "That kid doesn't need parents. What are we here for?"
I have often wondered, what if I just left him alone for a few hours. Would he even notice I was gone? Or would he just keep playing with his toys, going potty when he needs to, and helping himself to animal crackers as a means of food survival?
That question was answered one day last week.
This is the sad story about a little boy who discovered that he does, indeed, need his parents, and the mother who deserves Mother-of-the-Year for how it happened. That last part was a joke, please know.
Last weekend, we all "camped out" at our new house from Friday until Tuesday. Will worked a lot on the exterior doing some pressure-washing, while I worked inside painting walls (see photo below).
The boys did really well during this, considering we don't really live there yet and there's not much to entertain them. They did sleep in the same room for the first time EVER, and while it did take them over an hour each night (after giggling and yakking) before they finally fell asleep, they had lots of fun. Preston brought a bunch of cars to play with, and he also helped me paint (I let him paint on some of the yucky walls).
On one of the days, I had a hard time entertaining the boys and also getting them to take their naps. I put Preston down on his air mattress and told him that I was going to go do an errand, that I was taking Taylor with me, that Papa was still here but he was outside, and that I would be back back really soon. I made sure that he knew that Dad was still here if he needed him.
I then went outside and found Will and said "I'm going to go to town to get some food. Preston is supposed to be taking a nap. He's laying down on his bed, but you might just want to keep your eyes open in case he comes wandering outside looking for you." He acknowledged me and then Taylor and I left.
About 50 minutes later, we came back from the store. Taylor had fallen asleep in his carseat (first nap of the day), and I took the groceries inside. I thought I heard Preston, but it was so faint, I thought it was just noise coming from the music player. I went out and got Taylor and brought him in, and again heard something. This time, I stopped and listened really carefully. I realized it was Preston crying.
Taylor was still asleep in his carseat, so I just left him downstairs. I went upstairs and noticed that Preston's bedroom door was wide open. I went inside and couldn't find him anywhere. I looked in every room and then finally realized the crying was coming from our master bedroom closet. My first thought was "Oh my gosh he hurt himself!" As I got closer, I could tell that this was his frantic "I'm scared" sort of crying. I got really worried and hurried to get to him faster.
All the lights were out, except for the light in the closet. I opened the door and found him laying down on the floor in the fetal position with a blotchy red face, tears streaming down his cheeks, and really upset. I asked him "Preston what's wrong???" and he just looked at me. I realized that he was really scared, and so I said "Come here and give mommy a hug. Come on, come here and sit on my lap." He still wouldn't get up. So I went and picked him up and he grabbed onto me really tight. We sat there for a moment, and then I said "Were you scared??"
Duh. It took me a entire 3 minutes to finally realize WHY he was scared. He must have never went to sleep, gotten up out of his bed trying to find me. Walked around the entire house and realized nobody was there. He probably completely forgot that Papa was outside, but instead just heard the really loud scary noise of the pressure washer. The only place he could think to go where he would be safe was his parents bedroom, and he locked himself in the closet where he would be okay and just cried all scared.
I can tell you that at that moment, my heart sank when I realized the emotions he went through, honestly thinking that his parents had left him alone in a vacant house. I. Felt. TERRIBLE.
We sat there for a good 15 minutes while I just held him. I kept rubbing his back and telling him that everything was okay, and that Mommy or Daddy would NEVER leave him alone. I told him "Did you remember that Papa was here the whole time? He was just outside so you couldn't see him. I would never leave you here all by yourself." I must have apologized to him at least 20 times telling him how sorry I was that he was scared and thought that I left him.
So yes, I deserve Mother of the Year for that one, let me tell ya. The whole thing haunted me for a good 2 days afterwards with the image of him huddled in the fetal position in a closet crying burned into my memory. Ugh.
One thing I did learn from the whole though, is that Preston DOES need his parents. So in some small, VERY VERY small way, it felt good to know that he does really need me. But I would never put him through that again just to find that out. I can tell you that.
P.S. A couple of funny posts about Preston from my Facebook this week:
This morning, while driving in the car and Preston insisting that I needed to "Go faster! Go faster, Mama! Like Lightning McQueen!!", I told him "I can't go any faster or a policeman will give mommy a ticket." He paused, and then said, "Not if you go faster, you go so fast the policeman won't see you, mama!". Smart boy he is. I got a good laugh out of that one.
Last night, I gathered the boys around the Christmas tree and tried to tell them (the best I could to a 1 and 3 yr old) the story of the Nativity. When I asked Preston if he knew what happened next (at certain key points in the story), he told me that the "mama rode on a horse", that they stayed "in a castle", and that the wisemen gave baby Jesus a "car" for his birthday. Of course!