Photographs by Laurie @ Horizons Photography

March 14, 2011

Terror in the Tubes




 On Thursday my Mom came for a visit, we took the boys to MC Donald's playland for lunch. A friend had suggested a new one that I hadn't known about which was much closer to where we were. We
found a table in the playroom (no small feat!) and began to settle in. Kaleb in his highchair and Josh tearing off to discover the bounty of MC Donald's playland slides and tubes and mazes!


This is a google image,  not one of mine

We took turns getting food, my Mom going first, and I went second. I sat at the table with Kaleb and a little boy from a few tables over brought Kaleb a balloon, thrilling Kaleb to no end, they threw the balloon back and forth to each other for a time before the little boy got bored and moved on to bigger and better things, leaving the balloon ('ball' according to Kaleb) with Kaleb.

I sat watching the kids playing and I heard a very familiar screaming, terrified screams, coming from the entrance of the play structure. I looked over and Josh was standing there, sheer terror on his face. I went running over and scooped him up, cuddling him and assuring him that he was okay, trying to figure out if he'd fallen or just been afraid... (hard when your kid still won't talk). Then a woman approached me and had her son apologize to Joshua, when I asked what happened she said that her son could be loud sometimes and it scared Josh. This is when little red flags went off, Josh is LOUD, he rough houses all the time and has endured much in his childhood... a little noise from another three year old doesn't instill that kind of terror from him. I however chose to ignore the incident and Josh seemed happy to continue to play so on with lunch we went. My Mother came back, we began to eat and I noticed that I hadn't seen Josh in a a little while.

I searched around and finally spotted him way up at the top of the structure in a little plexi-glass bubble smiling down on me and sitting quite happily. That was when I saw hands reach out and start hitting Josh on the head, Josh's smile crumpled and he began to scream again, his little hands pressed against the glass and calling in terror for his Mummy. I felt sick watching the display in front of me and not being able to help, I called to Josh telling him to come down the slide to me, but he wouldn't move, my Mother who was further to the side than I was leaned back and could see the same little boy (bully) blocking Joshua's path, separating him from coming to us. Heat and anger filled me and my mind searched for a solution while raw Mother bear instinct had me wanting to rip the tube apart grab the bully away from my son and deliver him to his mother who sat chatting in a corner with her friend, totally unaware of the antics of her son, of which included hitting three kids that I saw and punching a woman in the stomach, as well as trying to steal Kaleb's balloon).

I saw a little boy who was older and I grabbed him, asking him to help us. He and his sister went racing to the rescue, they chased the bully away but try as they might they were unable to get Josh to follow them, so instead they sat with him, calming him down and trying to get him to go with them. A crowd of parents was growing at the bottom of the apparatus, waiting to see the outcome of Josh's heartbreaking plight. He continued to call down to me, and finally despite the rules I pulled off my boots and began the assent to get my son. Vaguely I heard my Mother say 'do you want me to go?' but my only clear thought was that I had to get to my son. It was about three minutes into the maze of tunnels that I realized what I had done. Here I was, an adult who was terrified of the MRI machine and now I was a quarter of the way up in a tube built for three year olds, no air, kids in line behind me and endless tubes in front of me. The heat clawed it's way up my body, sweat trickled down my spine and panic was at the edge of my consciousness. Fear, cold and paralyzing was clawing at me and I could hear my Mother's words 'do you want me to go?', the stupidity of ignoring those words hit me full in the face. Kids were itching to get past me but the thought of them moving past me, pushing me even closer to the hot, airless plastic tube, had me telling them to be patient in a not very patient voice. I was calling Josh and though I could hear him I couldn't find him. Turn after turn I went, the tubes endless and with no holes to allow fresh air in. I climbed and climbed, too afraid to turn back and yet terrified that I would panic and be useless to Josh who clearly needed me not to panic. Just when I thought I would not make it I turned and there to my right, sitting in the plexi-glass bubble with the two kids I had sent up was Josh. Relief filled my heart. I had done it, I had gotten to him, he was okay. However, then he raced to me, put his arms around my neck and clung to me, creating even less room in the tiny tube than there had been. I knew I couldn't stomach turning around, going back through the maze of tunnels again so I turned to the boy (he was about 8 years old) and I asked him 'how do I get out of this thing?' and with a benevolent smile he said 'there's a slide this way mam'.  I had apparently thrown away all pride, because not only was I allowing my panic to show to this 8 year old child but I was even okay with him calling me 'Mam'. He led me through one last tunnel and then, all of a sudden I felt the cool air hit me as the tunnel open into a netted little room. I sat down and breathed, counting to ten, breathing... that air felt so good on my skin, I could have stayed in that little netted room for the rest of the day, but the fact was that I had one more tunnel to face, there were three kids with me, I was the adult, and yet I couldn't bring myself to get a grip. The older boy went down the slide first, then Josh and then the little girl tried to let me go first but I needed air for just a few minutes longer. We went back and forth a few times but then she finally went. At the end of the tube I could hear the cheers that told me that Josh had made it safely to the bottom, and I knew that my Mom would comfort him sufficiently, the temptation to remain in this netted room was great. Finally I mustered up all of my courage and with eyes closed I entered the tube slide and pushed myself through yet another tube of terror...

When I reached the end I got no cheers, in fact no one seemed to notice me come out at all, everyone was so focused on Josh that my great feat as a mother had gone un-noticed. My mother of course knew, and once again reminded me that she had offered to go for me, the panic still turning my stomach around in knots told met that I should have listened to my her.

There is no life lesson here, perhaps a lesson for MC Donald's to make it easier for parents to get to their child if the child needs them or is hurt, but other than that there is no real purpose to me writing about my terror in the tubes of playland, other than to share it of course, which I was asked yesterday to do.