Code word. That little girl in Ajax had a code word, one that saved her from being abducted by a stranger.
I tried to create a code word with Jack. A secret word that only those closest to him would know so that if ever a stranger approached him and said, “Your mom asked me to come and pick you up”. Jack would say, “Okay. What’s the code word?” We first had the conversation in the car after I picked him up from daycare. “Mario,” he suggests. Then I realized that we should have this conversation with Wes and Sarah so that we all know the code word. It’s already starting to fall apart.
So I remember to have the conversation with Wes, but he’s not co-operating. “Jack would never be in that situation because he would always know who was picking him up.” Wes says definitively. “Well, not now but maybe when he’s older.” I suggest. “But Precious, we would never send a stranger to go and pick Jack up. We would never send someone he doesn’t know.”
He is so not getting this. He is not playing along. Doesn’t he understand I want to feed this illusion that we have some control over something we really have very little control over? “Let’s just make up a word.” “Mario.” Jack suggests. Wes and I both reject that as too obvious. The kidnapper with the little girl in Ajax had guessed “Justin Bieber” so we can’t go for the obvious.
It’s like we are setting up a password for our son’s safety. I have no memory anymore. So passwords are a nightmare for me. I hate Paypal and Skype and any other extraneous passwords that I need to remember. My email and Facebook passwords are enough. Okay and maybe online banking. We have so many passwords! I got a computer around the time Jack was born and I wanted to download some photos off it recently. I couldn’t for the life of me remember what the password was. I tried to find it and the hint I gave myself back in 2005 was “Sex in the City.”
This is emblematic of a couple of things. My sexy, single lifestyle that was a thing of the past and the pregnant brain that was simultaneously crazy and forgetful. Needless to say I have never recovered that password. Hint: Sex in the City.
There is nothing more horrifying than that moment when you think you’ve lost your kid. When Jack was five years old I let him go to our friend’s house 2 doors away on his own. I was a little nervous but I figured he can handle to the two house walk, considering that five-year-olds used to walk to school on their own! But when I went by a bit later to pick him up there was no answer. Where were they? Maybe they weren’t home, but then why didn’t Jack come home? I knocked again, no answer. I went to the backyard. Nothing. Oh My God. Where was he? I started to panic.
“Jaaack!” I yelled to the empty street. A young couple were walking by. “DId you see a little boy? My son?” As soon as I said it the tears started to flow.
“No we didn’t. What does he look like?.” Immediately they started to help. I went and knocked on my neighbors door again. This time the dad answered.
“Is Jack there?” “Yeah, he’s down in the basement.” “I knocked but no one answered!” I tell him. He looked at me like I was a bit nuts. “Sorry I didn’t hear you.” I was sobbing. It was ridiculous. The young couple stopped looking and went on their way.
So back to the password. “I think we should have a code word just in case.” “Mario.” Jack suggests. “Okay, fine. Mario.”
Precious Chong is a writer, actor and comedian living in Toronto. She’s also a professional stilt walker and the daughter of cult movie hero Tommy Chong.