I promised to continue my series of Keeping It Real While Travelling And Trying to Make Beautiful Freaking Memories With Your Family by sharing the story of Kieran getting lost.
Here we go. Sit back and enjoy being a much better parent than I will ever be.
We arrived at our Airbnb in rural Krabi at night so once we got the keys, we just went right to bed. The next morning was all about exploring our new location and that meant a family walk along the beach. We had made it about one and a half kilometres together before I decided I would rather be back exploring the private swimming pool than walking anymore in the heat. The girls agreed and started the return with me. Kieran said he would keep going with Alec.
Clover, Gemma and I headed back and as we were almost at the villa, Kieran changed his mind and since he could see us, decided to walk back alone. He must have looked down just as the girls and I ducked into the yard of our villa because when he looked up again, we were gone. Kieran looked behind him for Alec, but he too was out of sight, having rounded a corner. Now, this time of the year is the low season for tourists in Thailand and this particular area is still semi-rural, so there were no other tourists around at all. To a small boy, this seemed like he was suddenly the only person left on the planet. He cried and trudged on trying to work out what to do. At some point he tripped over, lost his flip flops (there’s another great story there) and cried some more. He even had his camera with him to photograph his tearful face just in case he was never heard from again. My boy leans toward the more dramatic side of things.
He happened upon an empty resort getting an out of season make over, but the builders all spoke only Thai, so they didn’t understand Kieran. He sadly trudged along and decided to leave the beach for the road that ran parallel about 500 metres away. He walked through a field of cows, stopping to pat one of them on the head and cry some more. This is a massive accomplishment for the boy with sensory processing disorder who is afraid of even tiny bugs. He has to wear shoes and socks to walk across his carpeted playroom at home, but here he was, barefoot in a field chatting up massive cows.
At the road he managed to get the attention of a passing motorbike rider who understood enough English or at least had basic observational skills to know this little boy was lost. Kieran’s recollection of the details is hazy and so I’m not sure how it went down that my son got on the back of this motorbike with a stranger who had no helmet for himself let alone one for a small lost boy and rode off slowly (I am hoping slowly…humour me here) looking for some help. My kid was on the back of a motorbike in Thailand with no shoes, no helmet and no bloody clue where he was and I was blissfully unaware. Thinking he had made it back to me, Alec was also unaware our son was lost as he headed back to the villa himself.
As I mentioned, the road runs parallel to the beach and somehow this kind helmetless stranger saw Alec walking along it and called over his shoulder to Kieran riding behind him, “Papa?” Kieran shrugged his shoulders so they took that motorbike off-road to get a better look. All Alec remembers is a kid in a red t-shirt hopping off a motorbike that suddenly appeared at the edge of the sand. We didn’t even ever get to thank the man for helping our son as he just rode off like it wasn’t the biggest deal ever.
Now Kieran was a bit sad to have lost his shoes, a lot sunburned for someone who did not lose his hat (yet…the hat was lost at some point on this trip) but I was so proud of him. He didn’t panic nor give up. Not sure getting on a motorbike with a stranger was what I would recommend (I nearly throw up each time I think about how that could have ended), but he was super brave. And nearly ten days later before we headed home, I went out and had the ultimate “Mommy look” and found his flip flops on the beach about two kilometres from our villa.
I’m not an atheist, but I’m not religious either. I don’t know what to believe… That said, we had been talking about the dragonflies that were flitting around Kieran on the beach that morning and he remarked on how they loved him in particular. I suggested they might be his late cousin Ian’s way of saying hello from the other side since we like to look for those signs. Those dragonflies weren’t random… I keep thinking that Ian helped keep Kieran safe that morning and gave him that little bit of adventure before reuniting us.