Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Have You Seen This Child?...Adventures of Gregory!

Adventures of Gregory
Have you seen this child?

Gregory Emerson Hatfield...March 18, 1988
I am going to break with tradition for a bit on this, the last of my children's birthday posts. Instead of writing about Greg's birth, I want to share a little bit of his baby and toddlerhood. My memories of Gregory Emerson Hatfield's first two years are extremely vivid...and there is a good reason.  My cute final child was quite the handful...a little Houdini who could defeat any lock or attempt to keep him contained safely at home.  Some years back I wrote an essay about Greg's adventures.  I am a bit nervous about sharing this his mother, I do not come across well.  In today's environment I would be considered a neglectful parent...subject to Facebook shaming.  I am hoping now that he is 27, the Statute of Limitations on Stupidity will have taken effect. 

Greg's first love.
The Adventures of Gregory
Gregory's love for "bye-byes" and other vehicles...began when he was less than a year old.  We were Christmas shopping at Shopko and just happened to pass a display of Tonka road graders.  They were huge and yellow and on sale for $14.99.  Greg's eyes grew as big as Frisbees when we paused in front of the display.  He stretched out his hands, reaching for the toys.  "Mum, Mum, Mum! Oh, Mum!" he kept repeating as he attempted to grab the closest road grader...almost falling out of the cart.  I moved the cart away toward the more colorful baby toys.  He immediately let out a screech that punctured eardrums in two counties.  I quickly returned him to the road graders.  "Mum, Mum...Oh, Mum!"  It was obvious he knew what he wanted, though I have no idea how he knew he wanted them.'

He has never looked back since that day.  There is not a truck, bus, backhoe, or army tank that escapes his notice.  His favorites are monster trucks.  He likes the ones that growl and have wicked teeth...literally "monster" trucks.  He loves lining up his Hot Wheels cars to be smashed by a toy truck with huge wheels...his own version of a Monster Truck Rally.

Tower Crane
Greg had one upstairs in his room...along with most of the rocks and gravel in the yard.

He also loves dinosaurs...but not with the same intensity.  After all, I-15 is not crawling with Stegosaurs or Brontosaurs.  The ideal toy would be a vehicle shaped like a dinosaur. Transformers came up with some of those...along with a pretty hefty price tag.  His best buddy, Trevor, gets all the current toys, but we have to be more frugal and wait for birthdays and Christmas.  So he's learned how to mix cars and dinosaurs in his play.  He simply has Godzilla stomp on his cars. 

His gee-gee (baby blanket) was wearing out so I made him a new one with streets, parks and gas stations on it.  It's the perfect size for lying quietly on the floor while playing Monster Truck Rally...and Godzilla feels more at home stomping vehicles in an urban setting.

If T-Rex and George Washington got into a fight...who would win?

Where most little kids have a teddy bear or other stuffed animal...Greg has a beloved T-Rex the size of a small dog that he carries around and sometimes sleeps with.  He asked for a G.I. Joe George Washington.  I wondered about this strange request until he told me that he wanted Washington to fight T-Rex.  Little boys are always asking the timeless question..."if (insert name) and (insert name) had a fight, who would win?" 

Imaginative Play...Cowboys Versus Aliens.

My Worst Day
When he was about 2 years of age, there came a point where it was almost impossible to keep him in the house.  We tried everything to keep him contained...multiple locks on doors, way out of his reach, were no match for his ingenuity.  There was a whole world outside our house and he wanted to explore every inch of it.  He had a little trike that he could pedal almost as fast as we could chase after him, so he could really cover some ground in a few minutes.

At the end of our street was the back fence to some property that belonged to a farmer with a hoarding problem.  His "Ranch" was a ramshackle accumulation of ancient outbuildings and wrecked automobiles...hundreds of them.  Greg could easily view the farmer's "collection" from our house and it isn't hard to imagine all the little gears inside Greg's brain working overtime.  But let's get on the with the story...

Greg about 5 years of age.

One day I was reading a magazine while Greg played quietly...a little too quietly I would realize later.  I must have become too engrossed in the article I was reading because, before I knew it, more than a half hour had passed since I had last checked on him.  He wasn't anywhere in the house, so I ran up and down the street checking all the homes on the block.  No one had seen him.  I was getting worried...he had not left our street before.

I didn't have a car was suffering from Terminal all of my searching had to be done on foot.  Around the corner, where a vacant lot began, I found his little trike half hidden in the weeds.  In my panic and distress, my imagination shifted into overdrive.  I pictured a smiling stranger plucking him off his trike an carrying him away in his white van.  I pictured posters and milk cartons that read "Have you seen this child?"

Legos...a lifelong love.
He still has most of his Lego sets.

Leaving the toy behind, I started running.  Through the neighborhood and out to the main road I ran, my heart a painful lump in my chest.  Down the canal road I ran, fearing to see him floating face down by the grassy bank.  There was no sign of him.

Finally, exhausted, I started back towards home.  At the vacant lot, two little boys were in the process of dragging the tricycle home with them.  They insisted it was theirs...they found it fair and square.  I took it away from them and asked them if they had seen Greg.  They hadn't.

The sun was going down...the days are much too short the week before Thanksgiving.  Lengthening shadows only increased my anxiety.  I pictured him cold and frightened, crying for his mother.  I couldn't call his dad...he was out of town...and I dreaded calling the police.  My fear of making phone calls can be a potentially dangerous handicap.  But I had no was getting dark.  I could just hear my neighbors asking "What kind of a mother loses her little boy."  Would I get in trouble for losing him?

Birthday trip to Disneyland.

The police arrived quickly.  Asking for a picture of Greg, they talked to me patiently and in a non-judgmental manner.  They consoled me that they would probably have him located in a very short amount of time.  Some neighbors came out to help, and the search was quickly organized.

About that time, Scotty, our faithful sheltie, came trotting home from the direction of the farmer's junkyard.  I felt a thrill of hope...I hadn't seen Scotty since Greg disappeared.  "Please look over there," I told the searchers. "I think Scotty was with him.  The police and neighbors fanned out through the wrecked cars and within minutes I heard the call, "We have him!"

I sobbed uncontrollably when the teenager who found him put him in my arms.  All the terror and panic I had tried to suppress came to the surface at once.  It was the worst day of my life...and the best...all at the same time.  Greg couldn't resist the giant collection of  "bye-byes" rusting in the farmer's field.  He must have thought it was "Truck Rally Heaven."

Greg and Dusty...our second dog.

I didn't want to let him out of my sight ever again.  But that was not to be.  This may have been the first time...and it definitely was the worst time...but it sure as shootin' wasn't the last time!  Don't even get me started on the time he got away from me at the Gap and was found in the Sears parking lot on the far side of the mall.  My youngest child made sure I would never win Mother of the Year.

Happy Birthday, Greg!

Gregory Emerson Hatfield
March 18, 1988

Every mother has a special place in her heart for her last child...the baby of the family.  The other siblings may groan and tease that Mom loves you the most.  It isn't just that you were loved and fussed was that you were the last child I would ever have.  You were the end of all the firsts...first smile, first steps, first words.   You were my last chance to hold a baby of my own, to walk the floor with in the still of night...the final little hand to set free at the kindergarten door.  You have never ceased to amaze and baffle me.  Your dad and I are so proud of the wonderful man you have grown to be.  We can't wait to see what you will do with the rest of your life.

Greg and his lovely bride, Shandi.
May 7, 2009

With Love,
Mom & Dad


Musings from Kim K. said...

My heart was racing reading through this post. I can't imagine the fear you went through thinking he was snatched or lost. Oh my goodness. Such memories! Such a busy little boy! I hope his passion for exploring has continued!

Margaret said...

I can only imagine what you went through! My goodness what a handful. He was your little Dennis the Menace. But he grew up to be a fine man and that's what matters plus it will always be fun to remind him of his behavior and have a laugh about it. Maggie