People are just lining up to crack wise about the mother of two who called 911 when her family got stuck in a corn maze this week.
Admittedly, it’s hard not to snicker when you listen to the 911 recording and hear the frazzled mother’s wicked Mass accent when she says “It’s getting really daaak out he-uh!”
But I do not join those who scoff, who say corn mazes are fun, who say what she did was ridiculous. First of all, it was a seven-acre corn maze. That’s for reals. Secondly, there but for the grace of God could have gone I.
On Columbus Day, we all visited Hank’s Pumpkintown, along with most of the population of Long Island, and about a hundred thousand yellow jackets. It was 82 degrees and sunny. David and I were ready to leave about as soon as we parked the car, but the kids would leave no hay bale unturned, no tractor-train ride untried.
Then Connor spotted the corn maze. “Whoo hoo, let’s do it!” he yelped.
“Uh, I have to hop on a conference call,” David said, conveniently and suddenly remembering a really important reason why he could not accompany us.
I really didn’t want to go. Like, REALLY. I’ve happily gone in corn mazes before, as part of a pack, as one of several decision-making adults. This was different: me and an 8 year old, a 7 year old, and a 3 year old. Me as the only one who could find our way out, while simultaneously keeping track of three kids hopped up on candy apples. This terrified me. This did not sound fun at all.
I chose the least of three evils, a “family maze” where a painted jack-o-lantern at the entrance told me we’d be out in about twenty minutes. Fat chance. Despite the Indian summer, this was how they’d find us come first frost:
Ten feet in the maze and I was completely lost. Sure, I knew the exit was behind me. But I couldn’t see how to get there. I had to go to the bathroom. Oh my GOD.
“Aidan! Aidan!” one mother called desperately from somewhere within the maze.
We rounded a corner and another family was talking to a sniffling boy who had lost his family.
“Are you Aidan?” I asked.
“Anthony,” he said sadly.
Recap: in the maze for sixty seconds. Two lost children. That I knew of. And Connor had run ahead, disappearing around a bend.
“Stay with Mommy! STAY WITH MOMMY!” I yelled , running after him.
We came to a crossroads in the maze. I had no idea where to go next. If I had thought to call 911, I probably would have pulled out the phone, pre-dialed, gotten all set to pull the trigger.
Then Connor crowed “It’s this way! I’m totally sure!” and we all ran after him.
Turn after turn, he was sure. I had no choice but to put all my trust in a third-grader, so I did. And despite the jack-o-lantern’s twenty-minute estimation, it was just fifteen minutes later that I gulped the sweet air of freedom. (Not that I checked my watch a hundred times or anything.)
So I don’t laugh at Corn Maze Mom. And I don’t judge her, either, though some say being in the maze with a 5-year-old and a 3-week-old was dumb. I understand how she got there. I know how it is when you have that second baby, and you have this brief period of denial that life can be Exactly The Same, that you can make every day like Christmas for the older kid (because you feel SO GUILTY) and the baby will just snooze in the Bjorn. I took Connor to a Wiggles concert when Seamus still had his umbilical cord stump, and not one of us had a good time, but I was determined to get there.
A Wiggles concert is paradise compared to a seven-acre corn maze. If I could meet Corn Maze Mom, I would give her a big hug, and thank her for giving voice to those of us who suffered like her, but in silence. In Corn Maze Mom’s words:
“We thought a corn maze would be fun. Instead, it’s a NIGHT-MAY-UH.”
Corn mazes: fun or nightmare? what’s your vote?