“I picked up Layla and called and called him. One of the employees went right to work. They shut down the store so no one could get in or out and the entire staff was looking for him.”
“Where was he?” I asked.
“Somehow he managed to get two isles away from me and crawled into a clothes basket that he turned over on himself! I was beside myself; terrified!”
“I remember a time at Six Flags when the two girls were on a ride,” another mother in the group said. “Rick and I walked to the exit to get them off, only they exited through the entrance and ran to another ride. When they didn’t show up, I was ready to shut the park down. Rick and I split up trying to figure out where they went, when Jamie spotted me and said, “Hey Mom!” They didn’t mean any harm, but they had no idea how frightened we were.”
I know the feeling, I added. “We were traveling with our five children. It was late evening; dark outside. Our oldest son, about five at the time, needed to use the restroom. So we stopped at a rest area. I had to get the baby out of the car seat and Charles was waiting on me. Our son, needing to go badly took off for the men’s room. Charles was not far behind.
I took the girls and went into the ladies room. Coming out, Charles said, “Where’s Chad?”
“With you,” I said.
“I haven’t seen him since he went in,” he countered. “And I know he went in. I saw him go in there.” I felt my heart constrict and panic set in instantly. Handing the baby to our oldest daughter and commanding she and the other girls stay put, we started searching.
Moments later I heard Charles call out to me. “Got him!” he said.
“What happened,” I asked.
“Apparently there are two sides to the restroom. I went in on one side, Chad on the other. So he came out the other exit. When he saw me, he said, “Hey, Dad. Where’d you go?”
Like the other mothers discussing their lost and found children, I felt like I aged ten years in that five minute time span!
Our children are priceless treasures we tend to take for granted on those days when things are going badly because they (or we) are having a bad day! Losing one in any way is heartbreaking. Losing one because we’ve allowed them to wander away adds an additional burden of grief because of guilt.
I challenge you to give your little ones an extra dose of hugs and kisses, and keep “those eyes in the back of your head” always open! We lose moments in frustration and normal everyday activities, but losing a little one, even for a moment, can create an indescribable fear and terror no parent ever wants to feel.