I have just been reminded of an incident that happened nearly three years ago, which is one of the reasons we wanted to move away from town life and into the country. We used to live in and ex council house on an estate. It was a cul-de-sac (or the arse of a bag, as kindly pointed out here; http://lehnersinfrance.blogspot.com/) and the kids had a small, set area where they were allowed to go. They had strict instructions on who they could talk to and where they were allowed to be. A, being A had to be reminded of the rules everytime she went out the door. She is an independent soul and has been a handful ever since she learnt to crawl!
Anyway, one day, not long after A's sixth birthday she came flying in the door and straight upstairs to her room. This was quickly followed by a knock at the door. Imagine my surprise when, on opening it, I found two police officers.
'Your daughter was at Sainsbury's, did you know she had gone?'
Sainsbury's was not far from the house, well for an adult. A must have ridden her bike down along the side of the river, over the bridge, across a very busy crossroads and down to Sainsburys. Did I know she had gone to Sainsbury's? Of course not, I would have given her a list! Anyway, she'd only been gone for a little while, she must have gone out the door, got on her bike and ridden straight there!
It turns out, that bloody lucky for her, there are a few genuine people left out there. A man driving his car happened to be at the traffic lights as A had passed. He parked up, and went to speak to her! He decided she shouldn't be out alone and was walking her home when he bumped into the coppers on bikes. Man handed A over to them and they brought her home. I mean how bloody terrifingly lucky! Man went back to get his car and drove round to the house to check that she had got back (in case the police didn't bring her home?). Anyway, I am eternally grateful to Man, 'cos God knows where she would or could have ended up!
The police asked if she had been running away, I guess it was their job, but I found it a little insulting. They were obviously looking at me as a bad mother who didn't know where her kids were and who probably did drugs and had a husband that beat her. But A was just being A. She'd gone for a bike ride, that's all. She didn't understand what all the fuss was about! Even when I told her what could have happened. I even considered staging a fake child abduction to try and frighten the point home, but then I thought knowing my luck it would back fire and we'd all be arrested or something!
She has improved over time, she isn't such a handful as she used to be, but it does feel somewhat safer for them out here in the countryside.