Kirstin’s most annoying habit was that of disappearing. Houdini himself could have taken lessons from her. And, of course, she would choose the time and place to vanish when it was most disruptive to our plans.
She loved the mirrors in dressing rooms, and that was usually where we found her. Of course she would be talking to her imaginary friends quite loudly, and so we knew where she was. We thought about getting one of those leashes you see parents using sometimes, but that just didn’t seem right. Kirstin wasn’t trying to make our lives a nightmare; she just was off in her own little world. Over time, she came to like the real world more and grew out of her need to wander away.
On a few occasions, Kirstin was able to take advantage of some electric conveyance to aid in her escape. Her brother, Michael, talks about a time when Kirstin took a daring ride on an escalator at the mall. Instead of stepping on the stairs as they appeared, Kirstin grabbed hold of the outside of the handrail. Before we knew what was happening, she was carried upward, clinging to the side of the escalator like a monkey. As Michael describes it, “She went up the wall.” Actually, she was traveling in the space between the wall and the escalator. Responding quickly, Craig ran up the escalator and snatched her from a potentially tragic end to her ride.
It was just Kirstin and I together on another escalator adventure. Kirstin was a preschooler, and the two of us were shopping in a large department store. I was carrying two huge bags filled with purchases and let go of Kirstin’s hand briefly to adjust them. In the short span of a few seconds, Kirstin took the opportunity to hop on the escalator. With little time to react, I jumped on after her. As I bent down to scoop Kirstin up, the strap on my handbag fell off my shoulder and became entangled in my feet. There was no way to free myself without the risk of dropping my packages, Kirstin, or both. As we rode to the top of the escalator, I contemplated how I was going to extricate myself from this mess. At the same time, I knew there was a distinct possibility that we would both plummet to a painful death. When we reached the top, I was somehow able to get us off the escalator. I waited until I stopped shaking before attempting the trip back down.
On another occasion, it was an elevator that carried Kirstin away, this time purely by accident. We were on a vacation to New Orleans, where we had reservations at a Holiday Inn just off Bourbon Street. We parked our car in the parking garage. Craig and I were busy getting the luggage out of the car when Kirstin, now about fourteen, spotted the elevator. She pushed the button, and when the door opened, not realizing we weren’t ready yet, got into the elevator. Without her knowing this could happen, the doors closed on her and she was whisked away. In my mind, this elevator was something like the Wonkavator from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the one that could go upways and downways and sideways and crossways. Although Kirstin entered the elevator in the parking garage, she ended up in the hotel. Fortunately, there were cameras on the elevators, and after showing us a few children we didn’t recognize, security was able to locate Kirstin, who was on her way down from the top floor. (It’s a good thing there wasn’t an up and out button like the one in the Wonkavator.) After what seemed like an eternity, the elevator door opened, and Kirstin walked out, happy to see us.
From: This Little Light of Mine, A woman with Down syndrome shines brightly in the world. This book is available on Amazon