A couple of nights ago, Toph and her friend Albertus were going to go from our house to his. They got on their jackets and went out to the courtyard to wait for me to be ready. I put on my boots and came outside, but then realized I had left my keys behind. When I returned with the keys, about thirty seconds later, Toph and Albertus had vanished.
I guessed they had wandered off to a different part of the courtyard, so I walked around hollering for them, but did not find them. Then I guessed that they were hiding as a prank, although that would have been out of character. When they turned up again a few minutes later I was beginning to be frightened and angry, and scolded them for wandering off.
But what had actually happened did them credit. They had seen me come out of the house. They set off down the driveway, expecting that I would be right behind them, and did not see me go back for my keys.
When they got to the next corner, they didn't see me, so they stopped to wait for me to catch up. Then when I didn't appear they concluded that something had gone wrong and came back looking for me.
I like when things turn out to be better than I thought they were, especially when it turns out that everyone was doing what they should be doing. That kind of minor misunderstanding can happen to anyone at any time, and nobody is to blame. The only question is how well you handle the error condition. I think Toph and Albertus handled this one flawlessly.
I apologized for scolding them and explained that it was only because I had been worried; when your kid disappears suddenly at night, it is hard not to freak out. And I told them that I thought they had done just the right thing and shown good judgment.
They are good kids, mature and wise.
Except for the time Albertus had cut up his hand by punching through the glass storm door, and when I asked what had happened, he demonstrated by punching it again. That was not so smart.