Thursday, March 31, 2011

Our Door is being Fixed Today

I haven't had time to write this story since it happened on Tuesday; let me tell it to you now.

Tuesday afternoon started out as a typical day in our house.  Mikaela was upstairs in her room.  Sam was on the computer in the dining room.  They were both taking a break from school work.  I was sitting at the dining room table teaching Josh numbers.  Madelynn, I thought, was in the living room playing and/or watching Dora on the TV.

A little while earlier, I had asked Sam to take some outgoing mail down to the mailbox at the bottom of our cul-de-sac.  He took it, came back, and resumed playing on the computer.  At some point shortly after, he stopped for some reason, and on his way to wherever he was going, noticed that the front door was open.  I heard, "Why is the front door open?" and closed it.  It didn't faze me in the least that the door was open; it does that often.  You see, the bolt on the doorknob sticks.  Sometimes it sticks out, and when you pull or push it closed behind you, it bounces off the frame.  Usually, it bounces open wide enough that you  notice, turn around, pop the bolt back in with your finger, and close the door.  Sometimes, it bounces open just barely, and you can't tell it is open just from looking at it.  Other times, the bolt sticks inside; the door closes but the bolt doesn't click shut.  Nothing is holding the door closed, and a slight breeze can blow the door open.

Several minutes (it was only minutes), I realized that I did not hear Madelynn in the living room.  The TV wasn't playing, and there weren't any sounds of playing going on.  I got up to check for her and didn't find her in the living room.  I looked around the house and couldn't find her.  I called out to the older kids, "Where's Maddie?"  They didn't know, and we all looked through the house again, and again.  At this point, the memory of the open door came to mind, and I realized she must have escaped the house.  I ran outside, looked in all of the neighbor's house.  Knowing she likes to run to the bottom of the cul-de-sac when we are outside playing, I ran down there and looked both directions.  Nothing.  I ran back to the house.  I looked in the backyard, through the house again, outside the front again, and called 911. 

The 911 dispatcher made me look through the house again, systematically.  He didn't understand that I had already looked several times, as did my kids.  We had already checked all of the hiding places.  The house was dead silent.  Madelynn isn't sophisticated enough to hide that quietly, or to hide.  At some point, I called Scott; he told me to send the kids looking. I sent Mika to right at the end of the cul-de-sac.  Go to the pond first!  Check there!  Madelynn loves the pond.  She loves water.  She would jump in.  I feared we might find her floating in the water.  I sent Sam to the left at end of the cul-de-sac.  We often walk that direction, and Madelynn turns that way when she runs away from us while playing.  I stayed at home with Josh, waiting for the police to arrive.

Within a couple of minutes, the police called back.  Someone had found her.  They gave me the address.  I told Josh to stay in the house, be good, Mika and Sam would be right back.  I went to the end of the cul-de-sac and started yelling for the older kids.  Sam responded first.  I told him to go get Mika and go home where Josh was waiting.  Maddie has been found; I'm going to get her.  Mika appeared while I was telling him so I repeated the story and ran the other way.

I ran to the next block, turned left, and ran almost to the next block up a steep hill.  Halfway up the block, I could see the police office.  Momentarily, Madelynn came into view.  A nice lady was holding her, bundled up in a blanket.  She had been wearing a one piece outfit that snaps along the side; she likes to undo the snaps.  Her leg had been uncovered because of this; she was barefoot; she was cold.  But she was safe.

The lady told me how she heard a car honking.  When she looked out, she say a baby, all alone.  She ran out and grabbed her.  Not knowing where she was from, she called the police.  She sounded apologetic that she called the police; I was grateful.

The police officer asked how she got out.  I explained what we had been doing and how the door opened easily.  He seemed satisfied.  He offered us a ride home.  Back at home, he recognized Mikaela and told me that he had seen her checking the retention pond.  I asked about what to expect now.  He didn't feel there was an negligence so no follow up would be needed.  But, he told me to get the door fixed. 

We back to normal now, but are being very careful to make sure the door is dead-bolted shut rather than just closing the door behind us.  I freaked out a little (in my head) when I noticed the door just closed last night without the deadbolt locked.  I called the property manager yesterday; they are sending someone today to replace the doorknob and lock.

Finding out that your 20 month old toddler is missing is one of the worst feelings.  I'm thankful that she was found safe.  I thank everyone who prayed for us during the time we were searching for her (both Scott and I posted requests on Facebook).  I thank God that he was watching out for her, too.

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Suswan said...

I know that awful feeling. It's so scary.
I am very thankful that God was looking over her.

Unknown said...

Thank God she was found safe! At first I thought you were giving us an April fool story. Now let's get back to our 'normal' stories. :)