Lost & Found

Remember when I wrote about Sliding Doors?

Let me tell you about another set of sliding doors. The ones at the downtown library. The ones I watched close behind Mary Bullock, alone in the elevator.

Yesterday MB had an afternoon play date. We could have stayed at home and played. That probably would have been easier. But I knew my girl was mildly cranky from not napping. And I knew that I was mildly cranky from her not napping. And I knew that the two of us mildly cranky girls staying in the house all afternoon, play date or no, was not going to end well.

So we needed to go somewhere, but in Jacksonville in the summer, especially when you’ve already showered for the day, options are slim. And since we haven’t been to the library all summer, I thought that would be a fun and easy outing.

I’ll skip the part where our sweet, tiny, local branch was closed and go right ahead to the part where we arrive at the Main Library downtown at 4:45pm.

Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever been to the Main Library at 4:45pm on a summer afternoon, but allow me to summarize for you: there aren’t a lot of studiers there.  Our beautiful newish public library is situated directly across from a plaza utilized more often than not as a landing spot for Jacksonville’s homeless.

Unlike many in our fair city, this doesn’t bother me so much. If I were homeless, I’d want to be there, too. There’s a beautiful fountain perfect for contemplation. It’s right by a major downtown mode of transportation (the Skyway), and it’s in walking distance to downtown homeless shelters. And the library- well, it’s air conditioned and full of books and comfortable chairs.

So, now that I’ve set the scene for you, imagine me, with two four year olds, a two year old, and a 10 month old in the stroller with my sixty pound diaper bag strapped to the back. See us get on the elevator and go up a floor to the main desk. Can I check out books even though I have a fine on my account? Yes? Now see our tiny traveling circus turn around and head back to the elevators. See Mary Bullock skip ahead and jump into the empty waiting elevator.

See the doors close behind her.

WAIT! I didn’t yell. It was more like a squeak. I was raised not to yell in libraries.

I pressed the elevator button again. And again and again and again, in case the first 14 times were a fluke.

Only the doors did not open. Instead, as I heard Mary Bullock’s cries rise upward to–what floor? I don’t know— two more elevators in the bank of four elevators opened around me.

Do I get on a different elevator? What if she comes back down and I’m not here?

Someone on an elevator was holding the door for us, so I herded everyone on and pressed 2 for the children’s library. The doors opened. No Mary Bullock. By now I was nearly hyperventilating, and people around me were noticing.

By the time we got the crew back down to the first floor (and again no Mary Bullock), I was attracting attention. Only, every where I looked, I saw faces I wasn’t sure I could trust. I looked around, whining/panting, starting to speak but not knowing with whom I’d like to share the information that my four year old daughter was by herself somewhere in the library. A summer’s worth of horrible newspaper headlines were flashing through my brain. I think Jacksonville has been ground zero for monstrosities against children in the last few months.

I sprinted across the main lobby, calling to the security guard as I went.

SIR!

FOUR YEAR OLD!

ELEVATOR!

WITHOUT!

MEeeeeeeeeeee!

His blank facial expression confused me. What, did he expect complete sentences?

Just then another security officer walked by.

She’s on 4, is all he said.

So I turned the posse around and herded us all into an already crowded elevator. By the time the doors opened on the fourth floor, I was sweating, crying, and praying out loud while people around us pressed themselves further up against the elevator walls, like hot mess might be a communicable disease.

As my elevator mates squeezed to let our clown car pass through the open elevator doors, I realized I didn’t know where on the fourth floor she was.

Right or left?

RIGHT OR LEFT? 

I went left, turned another corner, and finally saw her rainbow ruffled skirt walking toward me with the security guard from downstairs.

I know way worse things happen to people. So I guess I’m blessed to say– that was the scariest five minutes of my entire life.

I sank down to the floor to hug her, only I had Bo in my arms and ended up falling on my bottom. So I watched from the floor as Bo put his arms around her and said, I wuv you, Mawy Buwwock! Dat ‘cawy. (That was scary).

****

On the way home, I asked Mary Bullock to tell the story of what happened. She said when the elevator doors closed, she didn’t press any buttons. The elevator went to the fourth floor, and when the doors opened she was crying. Someone was standing there who said Are you lost? and she nodded. Then they walked to the desk.

I don’t know who that person was.

Last night before bed we said special prayers:

For everyone who is lost.

For everyone who is found.

And for everyone who helps the lost get found.

Amen.

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Everything I Know, I Learned from Kate Plus 8

Don’t lie. You know you used to watch Jon and Kate Plus 8.

I’m not the only one who watched that family-turned-train-wreck on TLC for most of the mid 2000s.

Right?

Anyway, if you watched you might remember how, in their old house [the tiny one that they somehow squeezed themselves and 8 children into?] Kate had scripture plastered all over the walls. I think it was everywhere, but I remember specifically that she had verses on index cards covering her kitchen cabinets.

I had no children at the time, and certainly not six two year olds, but I remember thinking:

Oh, how nice. She must be a strong Christian.

Looking back on this from my new perspective as a mother to [what feels like] a gaggle of my own babies, I understand that this was probably only part of the reasoning. Sure, she was strong. She birthed and raised 8 children.

The woman potty trained six two year olds at the same time.

If that’s not strength, I just don’t know what is.

And, ok, Kate Gosselin is not a personal friend of mine–so I’m just guessing here– but I think that those index cards were also about weakness.

Like, the we are weak, He is strong, kind of weakness. The I’m <–> this close to SNAPPING but this index card says JESUS LOVES ME so I guess I will calm down now.

Because He loves me and all.

And also because His eye is on the sparrow, and I don’t want Him to see this tantrum Imma bout to throw over some TRAIN TRACKS and LEGOS all over the floor at 6:45am.

Ahem.

Because let me tell you, there is nothing like motherhood to highlight every kind of weakness you have–mental, physical, spiritual. We might think we’re awesome at some point in our youths, but children were designed in part to relieve us of this notion, I think.

Summer is, in my professional opinion, an advanced course in learning how much you suck. Turns out, I can suck pretty hard when the going gets tough.

I’m weak.

I’m impatient. If you know me at all, you’re laughing because you freaking know this to be true.

I’m quick to anger, especially where poop on the floor is concerned.

I have trouble taming my words. Mary Bullock sounds just like me when she’s mad and determined to have her own way, and it is a dagger to my heart.

And don’t even get near me when I’m hungry. Just– don’t.

So bring on the index cards, right?

Only I don’t have any index cards. So, this. tweegram

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Guess How Much I Love You, by Bo

I’m about to admit something publicly that previously I reserved for my most trusted friends. I’m pretty sure I’m about to meet your judgement, but that’s ok.

The thing is, I don’t read to Tucker.

I know! It’s terrible. I was an English teacher, for God’s sake! I value literacy!

But I’m tired. And by Tucker’s bedtime it’s generally all I can do to get him in his pajamas and in his bed before the big kids are coloring on the walls, using my couch as a trampoline, or (their favorite) beating each other silly.

So he doesn’t get the nightly book reading that MB & Bo enjoyed. I’m pretty sure he’ll survive, but if he struggles on the verbal section of the SAT, I’m sure I’ll blame myself.

Every now and then when he cries at bedtime (super rare– even Tucker knows my limits), I sit with him and read him a book. He still cries when I put him back in his crib, but at least then I feel like I’ve done all I can do.

Luckily, Bo has taken on some of Tucker’s nightly book reading duty.  And so without further ado, I present to you:

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The good news: Tucker is getting some books.

The bad news: We’ll need to re-teach him his animals at some point. Maybe when he’s five.

The other bad news: Looks like there are going to be more than a few flat tires.

The End.