That moment we as parents fear the most. You hear about it, but hope will never happen to you.
That moment you look around at a store, park, mall, beach – WHEREVER – and you suddenly realize you don’t see your child. You are immediately consumed with shear terror. With tears streaming down your face, your blood pressure sky rocketing into panic mode, you start asking if anyone has seen your child. You provide a brief description. He’s two, has light hair and wearing suspenders. A tiny thought passes through your mind — will you ever see him wearing those cute suspenders again?
It hits you like a ton of bricks and it all happens in seconds.
Your sweet child you love so deeply — someone you would willingly die for — has vanished on your watch. The guilt/fear/panic/hope – you are flooded with these all-consuming emotions, while trying to stay rational enough to find your child.
Holy shit. I lost my two year old while at The Fountains playground. Did this really happen to me? Did I actually lose track of THE MOST precious gift God has given me? Well, yes. Yes, I did. What the hell is wrong with me.
I’m the parent who’s always right there IN the playground with Porter. The frequency of occasions I’ve judged other moms who actively ignore their kids at the park/playground is embarrassing considering that I can’t stand judgey moms. Hypocrisy at its finest.
I was there that day within the confines of the fenced off playground area, being a slight “helicopter parent”. I was RIGHT THERE! I wasn’t the mom sitting on the bench OUTSIDE of the fenced playground, looking down at my cell phone, or chatting with a friend completely oblivious to my hysterical toddler who hit her head on the slide (yes, that was something I witnessed that day).
How did this happen to me? Well, that’s precisely why I decided to share my story and risk being majorly judged by other parents. I looked away for maybe three to five seconds at a time while I attempted to chat with my nine months pregnant sister-in-law, who was sitting uncomfortably on a bench just next to the playground. My neck was getting a major workout, as I was constantly looking at her, then back to Porter and sometimes my four year old niece and nephew. Porter was happily going up the ladder, through the tunnel and down the slide over and over again. I knew he was having fun, since he kept yelling “fun” at the bottom of the slide.
Suddenly, I looked back to the playground…scanning…scanning…scanning…no sign of Porter. I do a lap (thinking he’s just in the tunnel portion of the playground). Nope. Is he on a slide? Nope. After a couple panicky laps around the playground, I realize he’s gone.
There were about 15 kids packed in that playground area, so the gate was being opened and closed on a regular basis and apparently Porter decided to make a run for it. And boy does this kid know how to sprint! With tears streaming down my face, I began asking other mom’s if they had seen my boy.
While I was inadvertently creating a mom search party, my sister-in-law ran over to the splash pads (not far from the playground), which was when she saw him wandering into the roundabout (yes, where cars drive) heading straight for the large fountain he loves so much.
She found him and brought him to me. I don’t think I’ve ever squeezed him so hard in my life. All the other mothers watched with sympathy, some maybe with a little judgment in their eyes, but that’s ok. I don’t care. I have my sweet baby boy back in my arms.
My normally squirmy two year old let me hold him as I cried a cry that was new for me. Dear God, let that be the one and only time I cry that cry.
THANK GOD. And thank you to my sister-in-law. This lesson was learned with a happy ending and I’m well aware of how lucky I am. If you have kids or plan on having kids, I hope you can remember my experience and that it gives you a little extra jolt of precaution so that this doesn’t happen to you.