I took the first week in Manhattan off of work to get the family settled with housing and childcare so I spent the days with Trystan who was a rambunctious two and Zoey who was seven months old. Shelly had just gotten home from her first day at work and stayed in to play with Zoey while us boys went out to get food.
Trystan put on his Superman jacket complete with hoodie and cape, a pair of blue jeans, and his light up Lightning McQueen shoes. This was his ultimate outfit, which boosted his abilities dexterity +1, stamina +2 and stealth -5. And boy did it work. He could not sneak past a half-deaf, legally-blind, hobo if he wanted to. He was turning heads everywhere we went. Mind you this was before the movie “The Man of Steel” was even on the radar, so a Superman sighting near the corner of 38th Street and 1st Ave was a pretty big deal! Especially for those who have never known him to be so cute. He was running down the sidewalk, leaping over everything in sight. I was dressed in jeans, a light jacket and my running shoes as this was our only exercise after the long travel day before, and our full day inside the hotel room. My walk had turned into a welcomed jog and an occasional sprint. I watched my son marvel at his own feet as he watched his own steps like a tight camera shot. Light steam escaped his lips as the crisp air crept in with the darkness.
I’d let him run a few strides in front of me to give him some freedom and a sense of dominance. Then as he would reach the corner of the street I’d yell out, “Turn right here buddy!” His little head would look left, then right, then left again, then he’d stop. I’d catch up to him and guide him by the shoulders toward the right, and just like a steaming locomotive, once he was pointed in the proper direction, he goes full throttle.
We picked up our first dinner from the pizza restaurant that we passed on our jog. Afterward, we headed to Duane Reade for some supplies and then headed back to Mommy and Zoey. On the way to the hotel, I decided to change my tactics. I let Trystan run ahead of me for the length of the block, then just before we’d have to turn, I’d sprint ahead of him and then cheer him on while pointing him in the direction we were going. He’d never have to stop running until we got to our front door.
Within a few days, we had developed a routine: We’d come into the hotel, say hello to the person behind the front desk, press the elevator button, wait for the elevator, then get in the elevator and press the number 18 button, turn left, unlock the hotel room door, open the door, take off your coat and shoes and finally put them in the coat closet.
One evening, the whole family went out for dinner. Upon coming home, Shelly and I decided to check the mail just past the lobby. There were some letters and a package for the previous tenants and nothing for us. Shelly closed the mailbox and just as we turn to bring the letters to the front desk, I see Trystan turning the corner at the end of the hall, making his way to the elevators. We run down to the corner just in time to see the elevator doors closing between us and our two year old son’s smiling eyes as they melted into confusion.
“Stay here and see which floor the elevator goes to,” I told Shelly as I ran for the stairs. In my mind I prayed that he remembered to press our floor and I will see him standing outside our door when I exit the stairwell. He wasn’t there. Gotta be quick. Called Shelly on the cel phone, “The elevator went up to the 23rd floor.” So I press the call button on the elevator then go to the 23rd floor. Not there either. Call to Shelly, “Is he there yet?”, Hmmm, not there either. After going back down to our floor to check if he found our button and remembered his routine, I decided to reunite with Shelly and Zoey on the ground floor and wait in case Trystan made it back down. I remember thinking “So this is what Joseph must have felt like when they lost Jesus,” then I spent the rest of my time in the elevator thinking of options; Trystan’s options and my responses based on which ones I thought he would choose. The elevator doors open and I see Trystan sitting next to Shelly and Zoey on the bench in front of the elevator.
“Daddy!” he yells with arms outstretched.
Apparently, our little boy had followed our routine up to the elevator when someone on the 23rd floor pressed the call button. Surprised to see a little kid get out of the elevator by himself, they tried to talk to him, then brought him back down to the lobby where Shelly was waiting…
Our first week in Manhattan and we’ve already almost lost our firstborn. Luckily it was resolved fast enough for him (and us) not to remember it as a traumatic experience.