What’s the Deal with Kids and Elevators?

Posted on January 13th, 2010

Have you ever noticed how obsessed kids are about elevators? Seriously. There isn’t a child on the planet who can walk into a building, see the elevator and NOT ask to ride in it. It’s like a Disneyland E-ticket ride, only without Mickey ears or an entrance fee.

We adults don’t have as much love for the elevator. Oh sure, we’ll use them to get us to the next floor because we’re too lazy to use the stairs. But if we’re comparing Disneyland tickets here, to an adult an elevator isn’t even a C-ticket.

I don’t know why there’s such a difference, but to a child an elevator is a wondrous thing. It starts with the outside. First there are buttons to push—and what kid can resist that? Even if a child isn’t planning to use an elevator, he’ll push the elevator call buttons. In fact, that child will run straight to the call button and push it with all his power while his parent yells “Don’t touch that #$%& button!” I know. I’ve been that parent.

Of course if the elusive lure of the call button isn’t fantastic enough, there are the doors. These are doors that open by themselves. In a child’s world that is wonder beyond measure. In fact, I have it on good authority that the top three things children wonder about are: 1) how the opposite sex uses the bathroom; 2) why dogs pass gas so much when their grandmothers are in the room; and 3) how elevator doors know when to open. That’s serious wonder there, folks. It doesn’t get any deeper than that.

In any event, in case I didn’t mention it the doors open by themselves. And they carry with them a hint of danger. Every child knows that if you don’t get through the doors fast enough, they will get angry and close on you, forcing half your body to travel from floor to floor outside the elevator. Buttons and danger are irresistible combinations to a child. I have even heard that racing to get through elevator doors safely is nearly as fun as playing with matches.

Matches aside, what awaits a child inside the elevator is perhaps the greatest treasure of all—the emergency button. It’s big. It’s red. It stops the entire elevator. And best of all it is always within reach of a child. Even the littlest ones that are still trapped in a stroller can reach the emergency stop button. Trust me. I speak from experience. You may think the stroller is far enough from the button and that you’re safe—but that button calls to kids. And suddenly their arms grow just long enough to press it; jerking the elevator to a stop and making the loudest alarm on earth go off.

And of course, there’s the phone. Children always want to play with the phone. The phone is the great mystery. Who answers the phone? Can you call friends? Can you call Grandma? Is someone instantly on the other end of the phone or does it ring somewhere? The questions don’t end until the child finally picks up the phone and asks the person on the other end. A person who isn’t always amused by your child’s curiosity. And yes, once again, I am speaking from personal experience.

As your child grows up, the wonder of the elevator remains although the excitement associated with it changes. Oh sure, once upon a time it was a big thrill to get through the doors unscathed. And yes, as your child grew taller, he was able to push more buttons, instead of just taking you to the basement or stopping the elevator each time you rode in it. But to an older kid, the thrill of an elevator lies in two things: 1) Pressing every button and making the elevator stop on every floor of a 30 story building; and 2) jumping up and down while the elevator moves to scare people like me who do not trust that a large metal box connected to the building by a few cables is really going to support the weight of several people especially with a tween boy jumping up and down in it.

And when I say that, I’m sure you know that I am speaking from personal experience. Lots and lots of experience. And that’s why I take the stairs whenever possible. After all, if I want an E-ticket ride, I’ll go to Disneyland.

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8 Responses to “What’s the Deal with Kids and Elevators?”

  1. pixielation Says:

    It’s the magical way the door opens onto a new place – it’s like going through the wardrobe into Narnia.

    Although mine seem to miss that magic, and mostly just argue about who got to press the button last time.

  2. Laurie Says:


  3. submom Says:

    Mine have the obsession with pushing the buttons. WHO gets to push the buttons first, I should say. It results in lots of crying, screaming, shouting, and missed elevator cars. Speaking of elevators: Love the scene from ELF when he pushed all the buttons in the elevator. :-)

  4. submom Says:

    Didn’t see Alison’s comment above. So it could be a common plight! LOL.

  5. Laurie Says:

    You know I had forgotten about that scene in Elf. But it does perfectly capture a kid, and elevator and way too many tempting buttons!

  6. Sarah Says:

    I must have the only kid on earth who hate elevators. She’s too busy freaking out to even notice the buttons.

  7. Alena Says:

    I have to agree with your post. Kids and elevators come hand in hand. Whenever I was a kid my brother and I would race to the elevator just to see who could get their first and push the button. It was a thrill for us. We always made it some sort of competition. The elevator is a free ride, and you hardly wait in line.

  8. Laurie Says:

    Alena, LOL. I did the same thing with my sister. And you’re right, it’s like a Disneyland ride for free :)

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