Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Small Series of Unfortunate Events


Sunrise from the balcony
Originally uploaded by BookMamma
So, we're back. sigh
I'm glad we went, and nothing TOO terrible or life-threatening happened, but it's good to be home.

Home... where we have a refrigerator and silverware, and a washer and dryer. And beds for both boys. All things we didn't know were absent from the condo. Home... where I can hop in the car with the boys if we get stir-crazy and head to the park or the dinosaur gardens. Caleb needed the car to get to hs meeting - the whole reason we took the spontaneous six hour drive to begin with - and that left us stuck at the condo. Did I mention we had no fridge?
Milk? Nope. Cold drinks? No cooler.
Okay, so we can just take a walk to grab some food. Ummm... crossing a major highway with a toddler and a three year old is not wise. Plus there was no sidewalk.

Add two peepee accidents with limited changes of clothes (again, no washer & dryer) and boys who were still in Grandparent Mode from the previous week. All this was manageable, however. Hey! We're flexible! Spontaneous! Go with the flow, man!

Then Came Small Unfortunate Event #1
Finn's obsession with locking doors culminated when he locked the bedroom door that he & Eli were staying in. All their clothes were in there. Luckily, Eli was not. It took me all day long to figure out how to open it, and that was after three calls to the condo owner, a frantic key search, and much cursing and sweating on my part. I had the number in my hand for a locksmith when I came across a paperclip in my purse. That did the trick, but my poor plastic Chattanooga aquarium membership card took one for the team.

I had an hour of respite after the discovery of the locked door when
Not-So-Small Unfortunate Event #2 Occured
As lots of parents know, juggling two small children is no easy feat. Now grease the kids up with sunscreen, throw in a heavy beach bag, and try to wrangle them in a place riddled with New & Exciting! buttons to push and fragile glass objects to shatter, and tall balcony ledges to scale. This is what I was up against, and I had no Caleb to help me herd the cats.

So, we head to the beach and I'm struggling to put the condo key into a little lockbox for the workmen to use and I can't get the thing open. Here's where I went wrong: I put Eli and the heavy beachbag down to get a better handle on the lockbox.

In the literal span of 2.5 seconds, Eli pushes the button to the elevator, the doors open, and I turn to see the doors closing in front of him.

!!!!!!!!!!

I am at the top of a 16-story building with my not-even two year old heading to god-knows-what floor all by himself.

What would you do? I went ballistic.
I frantically pushed the elevator button (like that's going to help) over and over, speechless. Scooping up Finn and the 3-ton beach bag, I barrelled down the stairs in my cheap flip-flops and swimsuit.

Then my mouth was screaming Eli's name and my mind was rasing through all the scenarios:
- If the elevator opened on the 1st floor, could Eli leave the building and run out onto the highway? No - he can't open the exit doors.
- Who else is staying here? What will they do if they see an adorable baby boy by himself in the elevator??

14th Floor

- If he pushes that toddler-tempting big red 'alarm' button in the elevator would that be a good thing or a bad thing?

11th Floor. Oh my God, Finn is heavy. I hope I don't fall!

- How will I know what floor he gets off on?? What if he pushes other buttons?
- Is he scared? Is he crying?
- What if he gets off on a floor that has a place in the railing where he could fall off?

8th Floor. I'm sobbing now, and Finn is pretty freaked out.

- Could Eli wander out by the pool and fall in?
- How am I going to know what floor he gets off on?

4th Floor. I'm out of breath from screaming and running.

- I need to find someone to help me.

2nd Floor

- If I keep screaming, maybe whoever finds him can hear me in the open-air hallways.

I tear out the stairwell onto the ground floor and.... no Eli. My brain switches to logical mode. I look at the floor the elevator is stopped on.

Three. Then it goes up again to Five.
My brain switches back to frantic mode and I start screaming again. I blubber out the scenario to the cleaning lady and she calls security to help. The infuriating thing is since the elevator is tied up it won't come back down to the ground floor. And I just know there's someone up there with Eli, trying to find who he belongs to, so I start bellowing again.

Somewhere in there I tell the security guy and the small crowd of vacationers that's formed what he's wearing and how old he is. We all tear up to the third floor.

No Eli.
I look to my right down the hall. I look to my left down the hall, where a door opens to a gaggle of women.
"Are you looking for a little boy?" I think my panicked face answers their question.

Directly in front of the elevator another condo door opens, and two older ladies in swimsuits bustle out... with Eli walking behind them. A literal flood of relief washes over me and I'm crying and shaking and thanking the ladies over and over.

Eli saunters to me and gives me a tight hug, with his arms squeezing my neck.

Those gorgeous ladies said they were headed to the beach too when the elevator opened and this little guy walked out. He was super-cute in his swimsuit and cap and Thomas the Tank sunglasses. He had his pacifier in his mouth and was carrying a bucket full of beach toys. When they asked him his name he just looked at them and tried to open the door to their condo. Their place was positioned exactly where ours was from the elevator, and Eli thought he was going in to find me. The sweet, beautiful ladies said he wouldn't talk but nodded yes and no to their questions.

They walked down the hall to see if he belonged to someone else on that floor but nobody knew. They had gone inside to call security when they heard me. I think the whole thing took maybe 9 minutes.

The angelic ladies asked me if I was okay and told me how this happened to them too when their kids were young, and did I need anything? Before I could even think I blurted out, "Yeah, a big drink." I NEVER would have said something like that to someone I didn't know but my brain was not processing anything other than Eli at the moment. They said they had that and could make me one, but I regained my wits finally and told them no thanks. If this is what happens to my kids when I'm sober, there's no way I'm going to add a drink to the mix.

Today I'm sore from the adrenaline rush of stair running with 80+ pounds.

In between the door locking and the elevator chasing and the 13-hour round trip night drive, it was a gorgeous day to be on the beach. The sand was like sugar, there was no crowd, it wasn't too hot or too cold. And the boys had a great time.

And I am much, MUCH wiser.


8 comments:

McMommy said...

SOMEONE POUR ME A STIFF DRINK!

I think I'm having an anxiety attack after reading that!!!!

I can't even begin to imagine the sheer terror that must have been pumping through your veins! I am soooooooo happy that it had a pleasant ending.

This is SO one of those stories that is going to become legendary in your family! :)

Fairybookmother said...

OH. MY. GOD.

Angels are on your side, m'dear. I'm dumbfounded. I just read the whole thing out loud to Jesse, we are not both stunned. Thank God Eli was in the hands of happy ladies (tho they DID go door to door looking for his family, not always the best plan) --what did Finn think about all of that when all was said & done?

I'm happy you are all home sweet home!

Fairybookmother said...

oops, typo, not thinko -- read: NOW both stunned, not "not both stunned". duh.

gryphon said...

I'll give it to Eli - I'll bet his plan was to catch a taxi, meet up with Caleb and then convince him to just blow off his meeting and come hang out at the beach!

AmySandy said...

So "gryphon" makes jokes...and I'm SOBBING over here! If it weren't midnight 30, I'd be calling you right now. I can't imagine how terrified you were...and it scares me too to think of anything happening to "Eyi." Prepare him for hug so strong it will probably hurt the next time I see him...
Lord have mercy.

BookMomma said...

No kidding, right?

The beasties are driving me to drinkin'. Literally.

pb&j in a bowl said...

I would have Fuh-reaked out! No question about it. I'm so glad he found himself some nice ladies, and that they recognized how frantic you must have been.

S2 said...

The condo didn't have a fridge? I've never heard of such a thing.

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