Dear Dexter, I’m Sorry I Left You.
I can be really ratty in the mornings. I spend far too long in bed, repeatedly pressing the snooze button which means by the time I’ve dragged myself out of bed, made a cup of coffee, put my make up on, washed and got dressed, I have hardly any time to get you up, dressed and out of the door.
You are becoming such an independent toddler. You want to brush your own teeth, in your own time; you want to wander around the flat looking for old bits of toast that you can snaffle before getting to the childminder’s house, and you want to put on your own shoes while trying to show me you can say the word, shhhurrr, shhhurrr. I, however, can’t stop repeatedly looking at the clock on the wall, all too aware that we are running late, again and it’s all my fault.
I encourage you to leave the flat by jangling my keys over your head and you run off down the long corridor towards the lift while I lock the door behind us. You are nearly tall enough to reach the call button, but you haven’t quite learnt how to press it yet, so I call it for us.
The lift arrives and I walk in, calling your name because you are distracted by the big window looking out on the traffic below. There is a ginormous yellow lorry thundering along the road and it is much more interesting than getting in the same lift you use everyday. You start to toddle towards the lift, but before you can step inside, someone on another floor calls it and the doors start shutting. I am paralysed for a second and before I can react, you are gone.
The lift climbs three floor taking less than twenty seconds but to me, it feels like an eternity. What if you are not there when I get back? What if someone finds you and takes you inside their apartment? What if I lose you forever?
The lift doors open and I run to the staircase and down three flights of stairs back to our floor. I open the door and you are there. You are not crying, but you are scared. You look ashen faced and shocked, and as I rush towards you, a smile breaks out on your face. I scoop you up in my arms and apologise a thousand times over. We were apart for less than a minute and it was within the confines of our home and yet the sheer panic won’t leave me. How on earth do people function when they are separated from their children in shopping centres or in the middle of town?
I try not to cry as I get you in the car and we drive to the childminders. I don’t tell anyone what happened until later that afternoon because I feel ashamed. Why didn’t I react sooner? What if something terrible had happened.
My fiercely independent toddler, I will get up earlier, I will let you get ready in your own time and I will no longer rush you out of the door. I’m sorry I left you for those horribly long forty seconds and I promise you it won’t happen again.