Saving Houdini

Our son, Joshua, just celebrated his 5th birthday in December….honestly, we were surprised he got this far. This boy has a knack for finding danger and mischief, no matter where he is. We lovingly refer to our home as Fort Knox and when friends come over they have to ask what alarms are still activated for fear of being given a heart attack while opening our refrigerator to get a drink.

This child can also literally disappear in a split second, no lie! I will be watching him like a hawk, look away for a split second and the kid is gone. And he’s smart. He will be watching you and the minute your eyes leave him, he bolts….right for the nearest exit. People probably think we are crazy as we race after him and scoop him up before he runs out the nearest door.

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(This was the day Joshua learned to drag a bench from the table to undo the chain lock)

Back to Fort Knox….our house has obnoxious alarms on every exit, as well as the refrigerator and stove. All bathroom doors, the pantry, the door to the boiler and the closet we store decorations in, all have hotel style chain link locks. For those of us who are tall enough, we can reach our hand around the door and either lock or unlock them. Even with the best security, Joshua will be watching and when of those doors should be left unlocked, he makes his move. Just this past week, his brother grabbed the stool from the bathroom to reach something in the kitchen and left it unlocked…a split second later I heard the toilet flush and raced in to see my phone making it’s way down the hole.

For a while we tried velcro to keep him from being able to get in the fridge but John had a hard time getting what he wanted because he couldn’t reach the velcro to undo it. Then we tried to tie something around the handles and that was more of a no-win situation as well since no one could ever get the knots undone. Now we have the alarm, but when that doesn’t get turned back on, we find Joshua grabbing the milk and pouring it all over the floor. He merely climbs up all the shelves in the fridge to reach what he wants and throws it out so he can retrieve it when he climbs down.

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The stove has the same problem. We even took the oven door handle off so he couldn’t open the door. It makes trying to open the door with a casserole in your hand rather challenging but somehow the kid can still easily open it. One day, I had just put dinner in the oven and ran to help another child put shoes on (literally gone less than a minute) and I found Joshua standing on the open oven door climbing onto the stove top. He never wears shoes in the house, but thankfully that day he had shoes on. The oven was at 375 and the kid didn’t seem fazed!

I honestly always feel anxious when we have to take him out in public because I cannot control the situation. When we go anywhere I always survey the exits and areas where he could disappear for the chance that he might get out of my sight and I have to pick a place to look first. My husband has told me many stories of me, talking in my sleep and hitting him while yelling, “where is Joshua?!”

I honestly always thought that people with Down Syndrome were very calm and went where they were told (I’ve seen them in the grocery store and they always stay with the person they are with….I’ve never seen one running away down an aisle while laughing and yelling)….boy did I have that stereotype all wrong! This child has not stopped moving since he started walking at 22 months. When people ask how I stay so thin…my response is always, “Joshua!”.

So, I have yet to find a way to keep Houdini completely safe, other than follow him around all day (which I pretty much already do), but then again, it would be impossible to keep any kid out of harms way all the time. We are hopeful that, one day, he will slow down and allow us to actually sit down for a few minutes. Until then, we tell him that he’s lucky he’s so cute….

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