We love Disney. I truly can’t say that enough. We are a Disney family and we love visiting our home away from home. But even the best visits, the most magical visits, have their not so great moments. This particular not so great moment happened as we were preparing to leave.
The boy was somewhere between 18 -24 months old and this was his second trip to Disney. For the most part this had been an average trip to visit the Mouse. The weather was nice. Everyone had a good time. Mimi bought each of the kids one of those giant balloons that has a flashy light inside so it glows in the dark. The kids thought that was awesome and their Mimi was the absolute bestest Mimi in the world. Their dad and I were trying to figure out how to fit 3 adults, 2 kids, the luggage, the stroller, and 2 giant balloons in the car for the ride home. Fun!
We normally try to get all our stuff packed and ready to go before making our first trip out to the car. But wrangling both kids and getting everything organized had been a little more difficult than usual. So we were slowly trickling items out to the vehicle and trying to keep one adult in the room at all times. With 3 adults that should be easy, right?
On my last trip out to load the car the boy followed me out of the room. Not a big deal. We were on the first floor so no steps to worry about. And the car was not that far from the room. So I talked to him as I walked and listened to him babbling back to me. I noticed an odd noise as we walked and a quick glance showed me that he had his balloon with him. The noise I heard was the weight on the end of the balloon dragging on the concrete. Perfect. A built in boy detection device. Sweet.
As I approached the car, Mimi and Dad turned to head back to the room. Both said Hi to the boy as they walked by and told him to stay close to mommy. This left me and the boy. I continued to talk to him and listen to his responses. I was able to track his movement behind me with the boy detection device. Until I realized that I was no longer hearing the boy detection device. Hmm. That’s not good.
I turned, expecting to find him playing in the grass where the weight wouldn’t make any noise as he dragged it. He wasn’t there. My first thought was “oh, he’s probably hiding in the bushes” but since the balloon would have floated high above his head that was a silly thought. My next thought was “he must have followed his dad back to the room.” So I headed back to the room making sure to glance in any open spaces along the way.
I pushed open the door, but didn’t actually go in the room just in case he was still outside, and called for my husband. When I asked if he had the boy his answer was “no, he’s with you.” Yeah he was but now he’s not. Crap.
So now we’re trying to figure out where the boy went without freaking anybody out. Most especially the girl. I mean, we were freaking out, but we didn’t need the 11 year old having a meltdown about her parents losing her baby brother. That would not help anything.
Back toward the car the adults go. Now actively searching any spaces for a hiding boy and a big balloon.
When we reach the parking space we all have different ideas about where to search. My husband is worried he went toward the road. (Buses go through there and he’s so small.) Mimi is worried he wandered around the far end of the building and headed toward the pond on the other side. (He loves water but he can’t swim.) I’m concerned about the hallway full of guest room doors. (Anybody could have scooped him up and ducked in a nearby room.) All of these are legitimate concerns. So we do the only logical thing. We split up.
I can’t tell you exactly what the others did but I began to walk down the open hallways in both directions. I was checking for any doors that appeared to be propped open and listening for the sounds of a screaming child. On my search I passed the vending machine alcove and stepped inside. It was dark and quite. And there was no balloon so I stepped back out again.
My search bore no fruit so i headed back to the car. My husband was coming back down from the road shaking his head. Crap. Mim was coming around the far side of the building inquiring if we had found him. Double Crap. Now I’m starting to panic. My scenario is looking more plausible.
As we tried to come up with a new strategy I found myself staring once again at the vending machine area. Maybe I missed something. So I rushed back to the small dark room and walked all the way across it to the far wall. As I turned back toward the door I saw him. Standing in a small gap between the Coke machine and the wall is my little boy and his giant balloon.
When he saw that I was looking at him he giggled and wiggled and jumped and bounced right out of the little opening. I scooped him up and walked quickly back out of the room yelling “Found him”. He thought it was a game. I have no idea how my loud energetic boy managed to stay still and quiet for almost 10 minutes while the rest of us were freaking out and calling his name.
We managed to finish loading the car with no more incidents. The boy was not allowed to leave the hotel room until it was time to be strapped in his car seat. And the girl was none the wiser to our obvious parenting failure.