Tonight we went to Friday's for dinner. We were impressed by the variety on their children's menu, but not impressed by the speed of service. The kids were both very well-behaved. Casey even ate several carrots, chewed them up, and . . . drumroll . . . swallowed them. (Yeah he did it because I promised him a lollipop-- but, folks, my boy ATE CARROTS!)
While we were waiting for our server to collect our bill (this took quite a long time), Casey decided he was ready to leave. He headed for the door, and because we'd arrived from separate locations, we had two cars. I was going to go home with Casey, pull in the trash cans, and feed the dogs. Jason would follow as soon as he paid the bill.
In the amount of time it took me to pull my keys and Marcie's jacket out of the backpack, Casey wandered all the way to the door of the restaurant. Although we couldn't see the door, we could see right outside the door-- so he couldn't have left without our knowing. . .
As I threw the backpack over my shoulder, Casey came running back toward me with an expression that crossed between panic and sheer terror. As soon as he caught up to me, he literally lept into my arms and began weeping and wailing. I sat back down with him, and I helped him breathe so he could calm down. I checked him all over to see if he was hurt, and then he finally said to me, "I scared."
He realized he was all alone when he got to the door, and this frightened him. I feel badly that he felt so afraid, but I think this is probably a healthy fear-- particularly given not only the recent stranger kidnapping in Missouri of a boy getting off a school bus, but also of the recent near-attempt at kidnapping in a local neighborhood of a couple boys walking home from school together (the boys ran to a neighborhood home and called 911, smart kids).
I know "stranger danger" is a little alarmist, but at least that means Casey will be sticking a little closer for a while. He's usually so fearless, I think this will help temper that impulse. At least I hope.
It turns out the local attempted kidnapping case was not an attempted kidnapping at all. The boys thought a man in a truck was trying to entice him into the vehicle, when the driver was actually trying to wave him across the street (literally). Also, the boy didn't call 9-1-1. He called his parents. Really, just as good (though I wonder how he knew which random house was actually safe to go to and ask to use the phone). This still doesn't change my point-- a little bit of fear, of awareness, goes a looooong way.