I lost Caiden today. Although I consider myself a generally responsible mother, this seems to happen often. I turn around, and he's gone. The house was quiet, which is typically a bad sign in the middle of the day. We're lucky if it's quiet in the dead of night. The other day I woke at 2:30 a.m. to find an Army-clad five-year old, helmet, rucksack and all, climbing on the counter in search of a snack and a vitamin. I’ve got to teach this kid how to tell time.
So I searched. His bedroom? No luck. Upstairs? Nobody. The bathrooms? Nope. Feeling slightly frantic, I glanced at the outside doors to make sure he hadn't gone visiting. Flashbacks of a two-year old hauling his blanket down the street in a thunderstorm went through my mind. There's nothing like answering the door to the neighbor you've never met, who's dripping wet and handing over your errant toddler. Those are the kinds of things you swear will never happen while you're childless yet seem to occur frequently once you've had children and subsequently lost all childrearing philosophies.
Then I remembered It, in all its glorious majesty, towering in the family room: The Fort. Every week when I go to my mom's group to regenerate brain cells lost after a week of full-time mothering, the babysitter builds a stellar fort out of barstools, kitchen chairs, and every blanket in the house. The fort takes up the entirety of the family room and makes it impossible to sit on the couch, but I leave it up for the day knowing it makes two little boys deliriously happy. There aren't many things that are free that can assure me of at least an hour of entertained children. The fact that it requires no work on my part is even better.
I lifted a corner—the vintage butterfly quilt, which is a dubious choice for a boy’s fort -- and there he lay, sound asleep. A Curious George was clutched under each arm, and his head was propped on the gigantic stuffed fish my brother and his wife thought would be a charming Christmas present. As if anything five feet long is charming. We are the proud owners of two such fish, and I fully intend on paying Dan and Janae back when they have their own children. I hope Bass Pro sells life-sized stuffed marlin by then.
I did what any good mother would do. I breathed a quick sigh of relief, snapped a few pictures, and tiptoed out of the room, thankful for his impromptu nap and the sweet gift of an hour of complete, utter silence during the day. Because I never know if I’m going to need to fix a snack at 2 a.m. Thank God for forts.