You’ve heard me lament the difficulties of raising a clingy child. Let us now look at the polar opposite problem: the child who actively tries to escape. Associate A is an extrovert. We can politely call him a free spirit, adventurous, or curious, but the reality is he is a wild-man. A thrill-seeking toddler with no fear. He runs wild so much, Associate P’s favorite game is playing “chase that baby!”
It is one thing to recognize you have an independent child. It is another to know you have a child who is a flight risk. This weekend, that reality hit me hard. We had taken the boys on an overnight stay in a huge hotel in the heart of The Happiest Place on Earth.
– Every time the elevator door opened, Associate A ran out. Whether it was our floor or not. One of us would have to scoop him up before the doors closed again.
– When in the elevator, he would try to push buttons. But not just any button. He’d discovered the emergency button that set off a loud ringing in the elevator and did it every time. Maybe he really was trying to call for help…. hmm.
– In the very crowded swimming pools, Associate A was annoyed at my efforts to keep him above water and alive, and thought it was fun to swim away from me saying “Bye Bye Mommy!” Clearly thought the drunk birthday girl wearing a tiara in the pool and her string bikini entourage looked like more fun than us.
– Then in a final defiant act, he woke up in the middle of the night and left. Yup. You read that right. He got up opened the huge, heavy hotel door and went for a walk. In retrospect, he was probably looking for aforementioned birthday girl. It all makes sense now of course.
But that night it didn’t. I woke up about 12:30 and thought I heard a knock. As I got up and stumbled around the room I noticed there was only one child sleeping in the bed, where previous I had put two to sleep. Huh. Completely freaked out, I yelled at the CEO to wake up. “A is gone!”
The CEO got out of bed and confirmed my observation that yes, in fact, our baby was gone. He opened the door, looked down the hall and saw a Hotel staffer about to knock on a door.
“Have you seen a baby?!?” the CEO shouted. The staffer pointed in the other direction. The CEO ran out and saw a couple holding on to Associate A. They turned around and met the CEO in the hall who grabbed A and squeezed him. I still stood frozen in my spot in the hotel room.
The lady was clearly annoyed and judging us for letting a toddler wander the halls alone in the middle of the night. She sounded as if she was ready to lecture us about proper parenting. I stepped out of the room and she must have seen my shocked, worried expression and quickly changed her tone. “Don’t worry, he’s ok… he’s ok.”
What followed was a blur of a conversation. They found him wandering the hallway and called for help. They and the hotel staff were knocking on doors looking for the mystery baby’s parents.
The CEO and I apologized profusely and thanked them over and over as we hugged our little man. Associate A looked exhausted, but was completely calm. It was kind of creepy. Like a criminal who just plead guilty standing in the courtroom. He knew he’d been caught, but by now he was so tired and over it, he didn’t even care.
As we stepped back into the room and closed the door, we triple checked the door lock and built a barricade of furniture in front of it. Then climbed into our king bed with Associate A nestled between us. The CEO and I exchanged a few words of thanks and praise to God for his safety, then had a whispered debate about how long he could have possibly been out there. How did he open the door and it slam shut, the way hotel doors do, and we didn’t hear him? And thank God that kind couple found him and not that trashy birthday girl and her drunk friends stumbling back to their room.
Needless to say I spent the rest of the night staring at the ceiling contemplating all the ‘what ifs’. What if he’d gotten on the elevator and rode to another floor? What if we’d slept all night and woke in the morning to find him gone. “Hello front desk, I’d like to report a child missing!” I never thought I was the type of parent who would have to explain herself to child protective services.
Associate A’s midnight escapade helped me realize that he is going to be so extroverted and adventurous we are probably going to have to give him a whistle, so when he runs off… as we know he eventually will…. he can blow his whistle and we can come find him.
That is what my Mother in Law says she did for the CEO. Until this happened I kind of thought her cute stories of little CEO running off so much he needed a whistle were BS. Nope. When we got back home, the CEO went to his box of childhood memorabilia to produce said whistle that he did in fact wear around his neck for the better part of his childhood.
Oh Dear Lord, please help me. This one is going to keep me on my toes!