It happened in Australia, but it could happen anywhere ... or so we parents tell ourselves when we read the story of 3-year-old Benjamin Atley. Last week Atley's parents dropped him off at his preschool like they normally do. Later that afternoon, he showed up on his family's front yard. The only problem? No one was with him.
Instead, the toddler somehow escaped what were supposed to be the watchful eyes of his caregivers and made his way home. Can you imagine the father's shock when he found his son out on their front lawn alone? And it gets worse ...
When the boy's mother called the childcare center, they didn't even know he'd gone missing!
It was 600 meters (or about one-third of a mile) between the two destinations, on what is reported to be a busy street. He even had to cross a busy intersection. His mother told The Sydney Morning Herald:
I said "Did you cross the road by yourself?" And he said "Yes." I said "Did you look?" and he said "No."
Fortunately little Benjamin is fine -- and a pretty smart boy to figure out how to get to his own house. The things that could have happened, however, are unimaginable ... and they bring up all sorts of horrible images of what could happen to our own children when we leave them in the care of others.
I hate stories like this because they plant so many what-ifs in my already-anxious mind when it comes to leaving my children. We can do all the research we want to try to find the best fit and most trusted facilities, but when it comes down to it, it's a leap of faith we take when we kiss them goodbye each day.
I try to remind myself that stories like this make headlines because they are rare and don't happen every day -- that most childcare providers are competent and caring. Still, you just never know what happens when you're not around, and that is one of the scariest parts about being a parent.
Do stories like this make you nervous about leaving your child in the care of others? Has anything ever happened at your child's preschool that has made you question his or her safety?
Image via taberandrew/Flickr