Tuesday, July 17, 2007

She's going to kill me . . .

. . . if she doesn't kill herself first. I'm not a paranoid person, but I find myself wondering on days like this if she'll make it to adulthood.

We were upstairs cleaning the bathroom when Eliza wandered away from me as she often does. Three minutes passed, and I went to make sure she wasn't making a mess. I went through the house calmly, room by room, calling her name, and she didn't answer. My heart started to beat faster. Something was wrong - I knew it - she always answers no matter what she's doing. I ran through the house yelling her name. I nearly vomited.

The locks on the patio and garage hadn't been undone, so I could only guess that she had gone out the front doors although they were closed. I ran out the door to the right and saw a mother and her preteen sons playing in the driveway. They hadn't seen her but promised to split up looking. I ran back to the house thinking maybe she was lying unconscious somewhere, but she was nowhere.

Back outside again, by that time I was on the phone with Chris, crying and nearly hyperventilating. He was trying to keep me from completely losing it, but I was imagining the worst - being the mother of a dead child. I went all the way down the road to the left, looking behind every bush and car.

As I was rounding the bend, I saw the neighbor with Eliza and fell to my knees crying harder from relief. The neighbor found her at the side gate in the process of turning the handle to go out onto the main road. Eliza didn't look worried in the slightest, and in fact, seemed baffled why her crazy mother was crying in the middle of the road. In her arms were a stuffed cat and snowman, and around her neck were the fabric balloon wall decorations that had once hung in her room (before she ripped them off the wall last week).

Once Eliza was at home safely tucked in bed, I e-mailed a friend: "I hate what she does to me. Why?? This is the dark side of having a too-smart and too-adventurous child. I hate wondering whether she’s going to make it to adulthood."

OK, I know she doesn't do these things to give me a heart attack. She just thought it sounded fun to go exploring outside the house.

In order to get out the front door, she had to unlock the deadbolt on the main door and unlock two locks on the metal mesh security door that turn in opposite directions. I found the doors unlocked but closed. What a thoughtful child she is to carefully close doors behind her, something the cat resents, having been locked inside rooms so often (damn those paws without opposable thumbs!).

I thought about installing a fourth lock on the front doors, one at the very top - six feet off the ground. But then I tried to look at it through Eliza's eyes and saw the distance from the top of the love seat to the top of the door is right around her height. That might buy me twenty seconds, I thought. I spoke with a friend on the phone who suggested an alarm on the front door, something her mother had done many years ago. I feel a little better hearing stories about her older sister, who was just as adventurous as Eliza; they make me think maybe I'm not as horrible of a mother as I feel on days like today.

Three minutes. That's all it took. The time I spent searching through the house for her calling her name was time she used to get farther away. I hate to think what could have happened to her if she had gotten out to the main street.


Elaine said...

Geeze. Every time I come here she's up to something crazy! She's making me breathless, I can't imagine what she's doing to you!

Brit said...

I have experienced that instant panic, that feeling of dread as you imagine the worst. Riley is 4 and has always scared me, from the moment she got up and started walking. All I can say is that it does get easier when they are older and can understand your reasons for things better... I enjoy your blog, I visit often. Hang in there!

Kelly said...

Wow..these kids..
One time Lily had borrowed a purple unicorn from her friend that lives on the other side of the complex..(by the street mind you). So the very next morning I was woke up by the phone rining..I heard someone leaving a message but didn't pay that much attention because I was half asleep and it was 6ish. I felt around for my kids..(we have the big family bed from Ikea) Jack in the middle, Lily was *suppose* to be at the bottom, but she wasn't there. I just assumed she went to play in her room like usual. So I lay there for another 5 minutes and then dragged myself out of bed to check on her and start the coffee. She wasn't there. Not in the living room either, maybe the back yard..nope. Come inside and the front door is wide open. I wake up Justin and we are both in hysterics. The phone rings again and its my friend Lina..(mother of child whom Lily borrowed unicorn) stating Lily was at her house..returning the stuffed mystical creature. WTF!! I have never been so relieved, thankful and pissed all in one. She had to undo the deadbolt in both, front door and security door..(which is actually hard because its old) and walk through the parking lot and by the street to return the unicorn. And Lily was 6! I thought she would know better than to pull some stunt like that. I feel you pain. I was so mad at her, but then again she told me she made a pinky promise to the girl to return it the very next day. Sorry this is a totally long ol' comment, but just want you to kow this stuff hapenes to alot of us. You are not alone. :)

Jenny said...

OMG- I cam only imagine how scary that must have been for you! I think I'd give serious consideration to the alarm- I'm not sure what else would stump Eliza when she's determined to get out the door! She is so smart and adventurous- don't you just wonder what she's going to be when she grows up?

chanale said...

Thanks, all. I do feel a little better about it now. I just can't put a leash on her 24/7, but my husband says that 3 minutes is too long, that I need to change that to 30 seconds.

Jenny - I caught myself saying to a friend yesterday, "she had better grow up to win a Nobel Prize for all the pain she puts me though." Seriously, all I care is that she grows up to be a good human being and a happy one, but I had to laugh at myself for letting that stereotypical Jewish mothers' line slip out.