Man About Town

Jack got lost at school yesterday. The principal called me around 12:30 and started the conversation with “everything is okay now,” which always makes me wonder. He proceeded to tell me that while Jack was outside on the playground with two aides and some other students, there were two simultaneous distractions, which resulted in one aide going back into the school with a student and the other aide falling and hitting her head. Somewhere in the midst of the chaos, Jack left the playground through the gate, walked around the school, crossed the length of the school and the parking lot, and went the front door of a nearby house. The woman inside heard something and opened the door to find Jack, who ran into her house and (in typical carpe diem Jack-fashion) began playing with her children’s toys and watching TV. This mother, to whom I will always be grateful, must have figured out pretty quickly that Jack wasn’t going to answer any of her questions, so she called the school to let them know they had a runaway. No one at the school even knew he was missing until this call came in, because both of the classroom aides though that Jack was with the other aide. So the principal and Jack’s teacher, who was having lunch, went to the house and brought Jack back to school, before calling me.

For the past two days, I have vacillated between feeling sick about the situation, and feeling gratitude that it turned out the way that it did. I can’t really blame the teachers for what happened. Jack has been known to slip out the back gate or the garage door when our backs are turned, and return a few minutes later with a neighbor, whose bell he rang and whose vacuum he quickly located upon darting into their home. It’s happened to me, so I know how quickly it can happen. I have always felt very lucky to live in a neighborhood filled with really nice people. Some of our neighbors we know better than others, but they generally all know Jack and watch out for him and treat him with kindness and generosity. Jack is so innocent and childlike. His escapes aren’t planned or premeditated–they are simply crimes of opportunity. And in his moments of unsupervised freedom, I’m so grateful to the kind-hearted, good people who care for Jack.

We don’t often take Jack to the grocery store with us, ever since an event took place at the local big box store which we refer to as The Day the **** Hit the Floor, as that is indeed exactly what happened. I don’t like to relive it by talking about it. I’m pretty sure that I have PTSD in some form based on my mental, emotional, and physical response to the mere mention of the Day. I’m not even going to go there. Just picture your worst nightmare with a mentally disabled person happening in the middle of a crowded store, and that was exactly what we experienced. Anyway, because of said Day, Jack usually doesn’t go to the store with us. But many months after the Day, we again attempted a family shopping outing with Jack.

This time the most delightful thing happened. We happened upon several neighbors at the store who immediately came over and greeted Jack (not us) and told him what a great kid he is and how glad they were to see him. Jeff remarked at the end of this outing, “Jack, you are quite the man about town!” The same thing happens at the Chevron near our house. All of the cashiers are acquainted with Jack because he and a therapist practice appropriate social behaviors by paying a daily visit where Jack can choose a snack and wait patiently in line to purchse it. When I took Jack to the gas station over the Christmas holiday, the cashier beamed at Jack and talked to him with sweetness and enthusiasm. I realized, with much gratitude, that our son is surrounded by admirers. His behavior can be difficult, and to some people, daunting. But so many of our neighbors don’t see just the behaviors. They see Jack. And they love him just the way he is.

  12 comments for “Man About Town

  1. February 2, 2012 at 12:22 am

    Megan, my heart dropped at first. I am so glad our sweet Jack is okay! I love that your neighbors love that sweet boy!

  2. February 2, 2012 at 12:26 am

    🙂 I’m so glad everything worked out okay.

  3. February 2, 2012 at 1:03 am

    So glad they were quick to resolve Jack’s disappearing act. Who couldn’t love that sweet face.

  4. February 2, 2012 at 1:07 am

    What a wonderfully affirming story on the goodness that people have inside them, as you see firsthand how they relate to sweet Jack. And even though you don’t like to think about That Day, then too there was someone who knew Jack and was concerned about him who offered to help. What a great blessing that Jack has all of these extra sets of hands, eyes and hearts who look out for him!

  5. February 2, 2012 at 1:08 am

    Seriously, I started panicking when I started reading this. I’m so glad it all turned out ok. I do have to say that we are the lucky ones to have Jack as our neighbor. 🙂

  6. February 2, 2012 at 2:21 am

    I LOVE the end of this post, although the beginning is terrifying, because it is so true that the spirits of special needs children (and adults) touch the hearts of the people around them. My uncle Lanny has blessed my life so much and I’m very grateful for his sweet spirit! It sounds like Jack is the same way and it’s wonderful for you to be reminded of that in the midst of the challenges you deal with regularly. I love reading your blog, Megan! Thanks for sharing.

  7. February 2, 2012 at 2:22 am

    Yikes! I’m relieved everything turned out ok and Jack is safe. He really is quite the man about town, isn’t he? We’d run into people all the time at the park, McDonald’s, or the pool who would stop to say hi to Jack. It made me feel very important to be seen with Jack 😉 I’m glad that this last family shopping outing was a positive experience 🙂

  8. February 2, 2012 at 5:08 am

    SO scary! I’m sure you are still reeling…But I also know that Jack is watched over in many ways. He came here to teach all of us–sometimes in very unexpected ways. You’re amazing, Megan!

  9. February 2, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    I would sweetly buy the school a lock for the gate. I am glad he is safe. And what courage you had to try going to the store again!!

  10. February 2, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    I am laughing and crying both as I read your post Megan. I, like Heather, wonder if Kayla had any connection to the playground mishap :/

    Regarding your supermarket incident, I will relate one of many ‘dig me a hole and let me climb in’ moments…. We were single-handedly responsible for having the Lehi pool evacuated and shut down one very hot summer day. I had a sleeping infant in arms as I dragged Kayla to the locker room, and watched in horror as she yanked her swimsuit down, splatting poop onto the walls of the bathroom stall. To make things even more exciting, there was nothing but toilet paper in the bathrooms – not even paper towels. A proud day for me indeed!

  11. February 2, 2012 at 11:03 pm

    I love reading your blog Megan! Let’s do lunch soon, I know you are home bound, but if you are up for me grabbing a pizza and bringing Lucy over let me know. And that whole idea may just stress you out – in that case, let’s go to dinner! Either way, let’s get together 🙂

  12. February 3, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    We are so grateful to have you and all of your sweet boys in our lives. I’m so glad that everything turned out well.

    Yay for a successful trip to the big box!

    Love you!

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