Exploring the World in His Airplane Pajamas
I was in the passenger seat of a friend’s car on Tuesday morning while driving down a busy street in Wauconda, a local suburb, when two cars in front of us stopped abruptly and pulled over to the side of the road.
We soon understood why.
A little, airplane pajama-clad, blond-haired boy was wandering into the busy street, oblivious to the many cars cruising by him. I waited a moment, certain that the occupants of the cars in front of us would get out. But when they didn’t, I jumped out of the car and walked up to the boy, bending down and extending my hand.
“Hi there! Let’s get out of the street because it’s too dangerous to walk here with all of the cars,” I suggested as he placed his warm, silky little hand in mine.
“Hey, is this your house?” I asked, motioning to a house a short distance away.
He nodded, so I suggested that the two of us take a stroll to the front door. As we did, I asked what his name was.
“Logan,” he replied, climbing the stairs to the front porch.
“Really? That’s my son’s name, too.” I smiled, releasing his hand to ring the doorbell. No one answered.
“Is your mommy home with you today, Logan?” I asked while knocking.
“No she’s not here anymore,” he mumbled softly.
“Is your Daddy with you then?”
“Nope, he went to Gram’s house.”
“Well then, is a babysitter watching you?” I inquired, becoming concerned that this 4-year-old was lord and master of his domain.
“I don’t know,” he replied staring down, transfixed on an ant on a mission scurrying across a front porch plank.
From up on the porch, I scanned my surroundings: a row of tall dense evergreens blocked the house from the street. Dark brown paint covered its siding, while even darker brown plastic mini-blinds, pulled all the way down to the window sill, entirely blocked the view inside. Debris-laden spider webs consumed the porch ceiling corners, and worn patches marred the painted wooden path up the stairs and to the door.
Logan and I talked and knocked and rang for a few minutes, and then I reached for his hand once more as we turned to walk away.
Right at that moment, the door opened.
A man in his late twenties dressed in a t-shirt and jeans stood nonchalantly in the doorway.
“Hi, is this your son?”
He nodded, taking me in.
I guess I had expected to see someone who had just stepped out of the shower and had suddenly realized his son was missing, or someone holding a crying baby looking harried, or at least someone with a more concerned air who wondered why his son was outside holding the hand of a stranger, while he, the father, remained tucked safely away inside.
“He was walking in the middle of the street, so I brought him home,” I said, waiting for a reply.
“Logan Alexander!” he growled, reprimanding the boy.
“Oh my gosh! That’s my son’s name exactly!” I exclaimed without even realizing it, feeling gooseflesh rise on my arms.
“Uh huh. Thanks,” he said curtly as he leaned over the threshold, yanked the boy into the house, and closed the door firmly.
My gooseflesh remained.
Suddenly I was struck by how much I loved and missed my fully grown Logan Alexander. At the same time, I wished for this little Logan Alexander an abundance of love and care, all the while fearing that may not be in the stars for him. I hope fate is kind to this boy whose soft, small hand and sweet voice brought me back to my own Logan’s childhood. My Logan who now stands over six feet tall, and whose hand swallows up my own.
I headed slowly back to the car lost in thought.
Does that little one live a happy life?
Will he be left alone to wander out into the street again?
Where did his mother go?
Would I have been immediately aware, when I had young ones, if one of my kids had ventured outside and into a busy street? Perhaps not.
What words of wisdom would my son share with this boy in terms of navigating his way through life as a “Logan Alexander?”
What took the father a full five minutes to answer the damn door?
Was he too busy supervising a secret basement meth lab to care about the whereabouts of his son?
Have I been watching too much cable TV as of late?
I’ve revisited this scene in my head numerous times over the last few days. The fact that this little tyke was walking in the middle of a busy road is disturbing to say the least, not to mention the oddness of the cold reception I received upon returning a wandering child in danger, and the foreboding feeling I had afterwards.
From this point forward, I’ll always keep an eye out for that sweet little boy when I pass his house, as I have twice since I first saw him already.
And so we love our own children and those in our “village” to the best of our ability. As much as we’re allowed to. We protect them and guide them and help them become the best versions of themselves that they can be.
And when they venture into a busy street chasing daydreams or butterflies or ants on a mission, we pull them back to safety, redirect them, and send them off once more, this time, hopefully, on the right path.
We do this continually . . . as many times as it takes.
So tell me, would you have called DCFS as some are suggesting I should have done? I’m interested in hearing your perspective.