Photo by: Shutterstock


Photo by: Shutterstock

Lately, I’ve seen a few posts on other blogs that talk about kids who have a strong tendency to bolt. The posts I’ve read, like my friend Lexi’s, deal mainly with autism, but the propensity to run is also prevalent in kids with Down syndrome.

My son Finn didn’t walk until he was 27 months old. Before that, I was sometimes privy to conversations with other parents of kids with Down syndrome in which they talked about their kids “bolting.” It was hard to imagine, really, until Finn was older and we began experiencing it firsthand.

I’ll share two stories with you:

Last summer, when Scarlett was only a few weeks old and I was suffering my first bout of mastitis, I was so sick that I couldn’t get out of bed for two solid days. It was a weekend. I was in bed, half-delirious with fever, and my husband Michael had come in to lay down with me. The kids were in the living room watching TV. After a while, the doorbell rang. I couldn’t imagine who it might be. Michael got up to answer the door. It was a neighbor woman from six houses down, and she had Finn, who had just turned four. No shoes or shirt, just a diaper and a pair of shorts, he had gotten out the front door and out the front gate and taken off down the sidewalk.

Fortunately, this neighbor had been out in her yard and saw Finn, grabbed him and brought him home. We already knew that he could open the front door and that he would take off given half a chance, so we kept a childproof doorknob cover over the inside doorknob specifically to prevent Finn from getting out, but somehow it had come apart and come off.

For weeks afterwards, I could not get the what if images out of my head. What if he had kept going? Only three more houses and he would have reached the corner. What if that neighbor had not been out in her front yard? What if she hadn’t seen him? What if he had gone into the street? Those images terrified me. We duct taped the childproof cover over the doorknob so this wouldn’t happen again.

More recently, Michael and I were going to run to the store for ten minutes. Our teenage son Kevin was home to watch the kids. Two of our daughters, Annabelle and Lilah, were out in the front yard with Finn. We have a picket fence around the front yard, with a gate, but the kids are well aware of how closely Finn has to be watched, and they’re really good about making sure he doesn’t leave the yard when they’re out there with him.

So, Michael and I pull away from the house, go down to the corner and around the block to head to the store. We had to pass our house again as we came around the block. As we approached our house, almost in slow motion, I see Finn open the gate and take off running. In the street. Lilah, age six, takes off after him. Before Michael even gets the car to a complete stop, I jump out and take off running after Finn, who is running down the street…in the street. He didn’t get far – not even the entire length of our house – but I felt sick with fear. And I was furious at Annabelle who was nowhere in sight. Clearly, she had decided to go inside, even though we told her to stay with him. But really, I was furious at myself. Because I’m the parent. And when all those what if images came flooding back, I realized that had something had happened to him, it would have been my fault.

I know those other blog posts talk about not judging or blaming the parents, and if it happened to someone else, I think I wouldn’t blame or judge them, knowing firsthand about this propensity to bolt. But if it happened to my kid, how could I not blame myself?

Finn does not understand boundaries, and he doesn’t seem to have any sense of what is dangerous. If we go anywhere, I can’t let go of his hand, not even for a second, because he’ll take off. And I’ll be honest, it is often just easier to stay home with him. When he goes to speech therapy twice a week and she lets him out of the classroom, if I am not right there in front of the door to grab his hand, he will take off right towards the parking lot. I’ve contemplated getting an ID bracelet for him in case he gets lost, but that’s not going to protect him from moving cars.

Sometimes I wonder, will I ever be able to take my eyes off of him? Will I ever be able to stop worrying about him taking off?

Lisa is a married SAHM, raising seven kids in Southern California. To maintain her sanity, she writes a blog, Life As I Know It.

Like This Article

Like Mamapedia

Learn From Moms Like You

Get answers, tips, deals, and amazing advice from other Moms.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us
Want to become a contributor?
Want to become a contributor?

If you'd like to contribute to the Wisdom of Moms on Mamapedia, please sign up here to learn more: Sign Up

Recent Voices Posts

See all