Okay, so today something scary happened. It cased a 20 minute long anxiety attack which was unbelievably difficult to manage. I took Ayden, Matthew, and Riley to White Rock for fish and chips and an afternoon exploring the beach. I parked and unloaded all my charges. Lately Ayden has been having difficulty with listening, and obedience. Lately I have been having difficulty enjoying Ayden's company. Chicken, or the egg? I don't know.
So upon exiting the car he climbed the embankment to the paved path which runs parallel to the beach, ducked under the fence, and looked around.
"Ayden, get down please."
"Ayden, GET DOWN PLEASE."
"But mommy I just want to go up here and wait for you!"
"No, Ayden I have to put money in the machine for parking and we have to walk to the machine together."
"But mommy how about if I just meet you at the stairs?"
I collect my two other kids and pay for parking, return to the stairs that connect the parking lot to the walkway, and no Ayden. I walk up and look East, and West; no Ayden. I call him.
There are a number of stairways leading up to the walkway so I turned East and checked every stairway. I thought perhaps he meant the main stairway, two blocks East of where the car was parked? I looked down the walkway to see if I could see a little boy in a navy blue coat, jumping around close to where the main stairway would be, and I didn't see any little boy that was mine. But I did see a train. That's when my panic started to close in. Normal panic, yes, but with the added element of being unable to breathe, shout, or even talk...
I checked carefully for little boys up and down the tracks, and reassured myself that Ayden KNOWS to get out of the way of trains and cars. But I also knew that if he had climbed to the rocks on the other side of the tracks, he could panic when the train came and try to run BACK across the tracks.
"Oh, Jesus, please. Please please please please." I couldn't come up with anything more coherent than that.
So here I am, having an anxiety attack on the White Rock Beach pathway, one small boy hanging on to my hand, and another tiny boy strapped to my front, and the third small boy Missing In Action. I was so drenched in sweaty anxiety that I literally did not know what to do. As soon as the train passed I called Brent's cell phone, forgetting that he was not at work but sleeping. Then I called our house, forgetting that the phone in our bedroom was not on. Then I phoned one of my friends but she didn't answer.
SOMEBODY TELL ME WHAT I"M SUPPOSED TO DO??!!!
I walked all the way to the main stairway, past the pier, down to the huge rock my boys love to visit, and no Ayden.
My phone rang, and it was Brent.
Okay, half of me was so thankful, because he could be my voice of reason in deciding what to do. The other half of me was so dreading telling him his oldest son was missing! Ack.
He told me to call the police. So I did. Ayden had been missing for about 10 minutes by this point. Just being in a situation where I needed to dial 9-1-1 was so overwhelming that I could hardly dial.
"Oh, Jesus, please please please please..."
The call taker who answered my call was AWESOME! I will always be grateful for how she helped me. She was quick and efficient and thorough, asked me the right questions, and every time I got panicky and frantic, she talked me down again. I was still walking back and forth between the car and the pier, looking and looking and looking, and never finding! I walked past the public bathrooms and every t.v. show with a child abduction on it went through my head and I almost threw up. I really did almost fall down because I was so frantic I didn't know what to do and I seriously couldn't handle it.
I pictured myself going in the bathroom to clear it for perverts, but what would I do if I found one? I had a baby strapped to my front and another small boy by the hand! Another 10 minutes had passed. I could see police cars driving up and down Marine Drive, and the police call taker told me that the bylaw officers in town were also looking for Ayden. I knew more people were probably on their way to help me look, but OH MY GOD IT WAS TAKING FOREVER.
The weird thing about cell phones is that because I could call the police on my personal phone and mobilize help that way, no one else on the beach knew what was going on. If I had no phone, I would have had to ask a stranger for help, and a number of people would most definitely have helped me search, but instead I was alone except for the voice on the other end of the line.
"Melissa, we found him!"
I yelled. A few people turned around, saw me on the phone, and went back to their business.
OH JESUS PLEASE THANK YOU PLEASE
"He's okay! He is with a bylaw officer, who found him on the sidewalk. He's pretty upset, but he's okay."
"Oh thank you, oh thank you!" She told me where to find them.
Oh Jesus, thank you.
The first thing Ayden said to me was, "Why didn't you come? I told you to meet me at the stairs and you never came!"
"Oh sweetie, there are so many staircases! I looked everywhere and I couldn't find you!"
When he left the parking lot, he turned West.
i looked both directions, but then turned East, towards the main stairs, the pier, and the white rock.
We went to a cafe and ate hot dogs, jelly beans, and ice cream. Whatever they wanted, I got. I tried to hold it together so Ayden could settle and feel calm, but I may have given him a few extra hugs and kisses.
It is good that I don't live in a constant state of awareness of how much I stand to lose. But it is also good sometimes to be reminded not to take my children for granted. Sometimes all I am is irritated and grouchy. I am reminded today that he is a blessing, and not just a bundle of disobedient cause for irritation.
Definitely in the top 3 for Worst 20 Minutes of My Life.
But little boys can't grow up without getting seriously lost at least once, right?
My brother was missing for almost 2 hours once, when he was 2.
I'm no longer surprised at grey hairs sprouting on my head, nor wrinkles on my face. I earned them all.
I was surprised at myself when it happened, because I handled it so poorly. I lost my grip on reality to the point where I couldn't determine for myself what the next rational step should be, and I couldn't take that next step with confidence and assurance. One of my defining characteristics is that I am calm and proactive under pressure in an emergency, but today I just wasn't. Even in emergencies involving my children, I am incredibly calm until the emergency has passed, and then I lose it. But today I just lost it.
I was able to pull it together once I found Ayden, because I wanted him to pick up on my calm, not my panic.
Now I'm alone and all 3 boys are asleep, so the test returns: can I keep the anxiety at bay?
I wish I had some chocolate. Chocolate is good for keeping up endorphins, right?
This life. This darn hard life. What can I do but live it?