Sneaking out of the house to take a joyride in a blinged-out BMW. Sounds like something a teen would do, right? Not this time!

A South Carolina man was um, surprised, when he saw a 2-year-old boy speeding (okay, slowly driving) down a road in a motorised toy BMW. Why was this so surprising? It was the middle of the night and the toddler was alone. Whoa! What?

That’s right, the 2-year-old boy was found driving his mini BMW (which was equipped with silver rims and tail lights) at 2 a.m.

According to Ken Bell, the public information officer for the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office (where the incident happened), “It seems he just slipped out during the night and started driving down the road.” Yikes! That’s every parents’ worst nightmare – or, at least a bizarre occurrence that no mum or dad ever wants to think about actually happening in the real world. Imagine, you’re sound asleep next to your honey. It’s the middle of the night, and the only thing you’re expecting to wake you up is your toddler asking for a sippy cup of juice.

You’re certainly not thinking that you’ll get a knock on the door from the local police. Doesn’t that only happen to mum’s of teenagers? And, you have more than a decade until you have to deal with that.

Bell noted that the little boy wasn’t frightened. Even so, “If he would have gone any further he would have hit a main road,” said Bell. Luckily, the toy car left teeny tiny little tracks for the police to follow. When they found toy BMW-sized tyre marks near the family’s home, they woke the parents (again, still in the middle of the night). Bell said, “The police asked them if they had a 2-year-old son and they said yes.” They then asked the parents to check and see if their son was in bed—where he had been hours before. Obviously, their toddler was not in bed – to the total shock of his parents.

Even though the Department of Social Services was called, no charges were filed against the parents. “We were fortunate it was happy ending,” noted Bell. “So many things could have gone wrong.” And, he’s completely right. It’s almost a miracle that the toddler didn’t drive into traffic. It’s not like nighttime drivers are looking down for a pint-sized car on the road. The family is also lucky that the passerby, who found the boy, brought him to the police station. While believing that anyone who found a 2-year-old out alone in the middle of the night would do the ‘right thing’ is a nice thought, it’s also not realistic.

The passerby could have kept right on going (in which case, the boy may have driven into a busy main road), kidnapped him or worse. Not only is this an absolutely terrifying thought for any parent, but the idea that a child could just wander out the house in the middle of the night might be even scarier. You tuck your child in, check on him before you go to bed and then finally get some sleep yourself. You assume your child is safe and sound, and (of course) in bed. Why wouldn’t you? There’s really no reason to think otherwise.

You lock the front door. You double lock. You triple lock it. And, now your toddler is safe. Right? Or, not. We all know a mum (maybe it’s you) who has that little Houdini. There are baby gates set up in an obstacle course-like fortress, and still the kiddo climbs over each and every one of them to make a grand escape.

So, what can you do so that your sleeping child doesn’t wake up and decide to take his own joyride? Do whatever you can to make it impossible for your young child to sneak out. For some kids, a locked front and back door is enough. For others, it may take more. Make sure the locks on all of your home’s exits are well out of your child’s reach. You can also buy doorknob safety guards that make it tricky for kids (and even some adults) to get out. If your escape artist is still getting loose, a security systems that sounds every time a door is opened will also help. Of course, we can’t make any promises that in 15 years when your now-toddler has grown into a teen he won’t break through your ‘genius’ barricade ideas and still manage to sneak out.

Author

Belinda's a passionate advocate for community and connection. As the founder of the Mum Central Network she’s committed to celebrating the journey that is Australian parenthood. Mum to two cheeky boys, and wife to her superstar husband, they live a busy but crazy lifestyle in Adelaide. Great conversation, close friends and good chocolate are her chosen weapons for daily survival. Oh, and bubbles. Champagne is key.

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