lost & found

16 April 2015

With the exception of Sebastian bolting in the grocery store a few times (where he can always be found 32 seconds later looking at the toy cars/trucks), I've thankfully never had the scary and unfortunate experience of temporarily losing a child in a publicish setting.

Locked a child in the car? Yes.
Had a child run out of the hotel room while I was in the shower? Totally.

But never had that gut-wrenching, "they were just here and now they've DISAPPEARED!!!!" sickening feeling.

Until Sunday!

And it's not even that crazy of a story but ... hello this entire blog. It's never stopped me before. Ever.

I have to preface with a little foreshadowy blip from Thursday night back at the Kansas City Chick-Fil-A where I was sitting with all the kids at a table while Simon ran to the car to grab something when a gentleman approached our table. He said the requisite, "you've got your hands full" which is fine 98% of the time but there's always the 2% that have to say it with just enough condescension and disgust in their voice that it almost ruins it for the well-meaning 98% and my head is spinning ... too much math.

Anyway and then he went onto add a little, "if one of them wandered off ... you wouldn't even notice!" quip. Funny. But no. Because on Sunday morning as we were packing up our hotel room and getting ready to hit the road I noticed immediately when Theo suddenly and quietly vanished. So, take that Mr. 2%.

Simon was there too and so we quickly scoured the premises because how big can a hotel room possibly be? Not big at all. It is very, very, very, very unlike Theo to run off because while he's not as bad as Phoebe in the, "I hate all strangers" department ... he isn't winning any Mr. Independent awards anytime soon. Surely he hadn't walked out the door?

But I checked my mom's room next door anyway. Nope.

Checked under the bed again. Nope.

Behind the curtains. Nope.

And again. Nope.

Simon circled the entire third floor of the hotel. Nope.

Bathroom. Again, NOPE.

Behind the curtains. Again. Still no.

My mom's room again. Negative.

And then I saw the very edge of the curtains rustle ever so slightly ...
 

wait.
one.
minute.


(re-enactment ... it was the least he could do for giving me a minor heart attack)

(and he was also behind the heavier curtain in the very corner of the room not moving a muscle and apparently holding his breath for minutes that felt like hours on end)

There he be. With the smuggest smirk of them all.


Look at ALL that remorse.

He eventually broke into a giggle and laughed in the face of my emotional plight while I silently rearranged my hierarchy of favorite children and moved him to the very bottom, even beneath the road trip ruiner.

Just kidding.
Mostly.

But let's all hope and pray he doesn't make this a regular thing because my physical and emotional heart health cannot handle it.

Hopefully you have similar stories with similarly happy endings.

I'd love to hear them while I sit here and take a lengthy inventory of ALL the new greys I grew over the weekend.

Not kidding.
At all.

37 comments:

  1. Here is the lesson I took away from the time I lost my son (momentarily, of course) at a science museum: when you see a fellow parent with a freaked out look on their face as they search for their child, stop what you're doing and offer to help! I made the mistake of taking my two kids to a museum on a rainy Saturday while my husband was working, and my son wandered off to play with something in the children's area. I searched EVERYWHERE for him and asked the employees and other parents if they had seen him, and not one person offered to stop and help as I frantically searched for him. I knew he wasn't in danger, but the panic I felt at not being able to find him almost made me cry. And it made me angry with every parent at the museum. Now whenever I see someone in a similar situation, I try to help because it is seriously the worst feeling. So glad Theo was fine, but sorry for the gray hairs.

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    1. yes! such great advice! I can only imagine - panic mode is awful.

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    2. I lost one at the Science Museum once! I hadn't gotten to panic mode yet when I somewhat casually asked an employee if they'd seen my son walk by and he (the employee) swung right into action. They have a code for 'lost child' and sent it out over the walkie talkies with the color of my kid's shirt/pants and he was brought to the front within minutes. I was impressed!

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    3. I needed the "lost child" code so badly when I lost my son! It was so frustrating! I can feel myself getting worked up just thinking about it, and it was 3 years ago. Time to take some deep breaths. ;)

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  2. This week there were two kids in a nearby town who disappeared from their yard - so long that the police were called and issued an alert, the neighbors were organizing a search, etc.

    The kids were found in the house of a neighbor that wasn't home watching TV.

    It reminded me of last summer when my kids asked if they could play at our neighbor's house. I assumed they'd been invited (invitations are usually yelled across the street) and said yes. I had the house to myself for 2 full hours. It was magical. Then the neighbors CAME HOME and marched my kids over here to tell me they'd taken every game out, mixed up all the pieces, played with their toys, and turned on the TV. Turned out they'd left their back door unlocked and my kids just let themselves in. I was mortified.

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    1. Oh my gosh, that is hilarious! (But I'm sorry about the mortification.)

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    2. Ok, I am so sorry about the embarrassment, but thank you for sharing this. I shamefully admit that I laughed so hard! I wish that I was your neighbor and your kids did that to my house. I'd have a great story to tell ;)

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  3. Oh my, my little always tries to run off when we go grocery shopping. Like bolt to the end of the aisle faster then I've seen her little legs move before and then pick an aisle a few rows down to just hang out in. Seriously why?!

    'Tis Our Life Blog

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  4. So Iggy plays this game in our apartment. But the first time he did it, I didn't even think to look behind the navy blue velvet light blocking floor length curtains. I mean, seriously kid?! We live on a second story, so I was freaking out that he had managed to get out on to the porch or busted through a window. He's also managed to army crawl under the crib, couch and our bed, but he can't get himself out, so I just have to listen for his muffled cry.

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  5. The worst!! Immaculata went from freaking out to silent after story hour and I couldn't find her anywhere! She was hiding in another baby's car seat playing with buckles. Heart attack indeed!

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  6. I once decided to hide behind the fir tree in our backyard while my parents scoured the house and yard looking for me. I heard em calling. I kept hiding. They were oh so happy.

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  7. This isn't about one of my kids, but me when I was little. I got lost in Allsups. You know how not big it is, but I managed to get away from my mom. Scarred me for life. I lol about it now, but seriously I remember being so scared.

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  8. My brother pulled that once. My grandma was watching us and put him down for a nap in his crib. My dad came home and checked on him...empty crib. They scoured the house and neighborhood and called the police. Turns out he had crawled into his close and shut the door to sleep because the room wasn't dark enough. 😅

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  9. I've noticed that my brain can quickly go from calmly looking for the missing child to full on panic in a matter of seconds. And I have the awesome ability to dream up the worst possible scenario when that panic hits.

    Just happened a few weeks ago at the Sculpture Park. One second all 4 kids were happily playing by the line of never-ending giant metal balls (how else am I supposed to describe it?) and the next minute, we were yelling our 5 year old's name and frantically searching for him.
    I was already running through what had happened-- a crazy hermit that lived in the woods was waiting for a straggler of a child to run behind the metal balls and my kid was snatched up instantly.
    After about 2 minutes of searching (AKA an eternity) we found him crying because he thought he had chased his brother and couldn't find him or his way out from around the balls.

    Those moments of panic are the absolute worst! And I am always afraid to show my fear in those situations because I'm always afraid people are going to judge the pregnant mom who has 4 young kids (who can't find one of them!!)

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  10. My 3 year old went outside once and I couldn't find her. I knew she was outside because the front door was left open. I ended up circling our house calling her name- she was circling the house trying to come to me, but as soon as I turned one corner, she turned another so I couldn't see her. We did this dance for an embarrassingly long amount of time until I finally heard her cry BEHIND me and could get to her.

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  11. My mom still talks about the day (approx 30 years ago) when a stranger knocked on the door and said "Is this your son?" Turns out my brother had been toddling down the street in just his diaper. My mom hadn't even realized he was missing. She was mortified.

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  12. omg, you scared me for a moment there. Love to Theo

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  13. My nephew once took the elevator by himself to the parking becouse he couldn't reach any other bouton and was found there crying

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  14. This is the country version . . . We live on about eight acres, with gullies and woods all around. My two older boys (5 and 2.5) can play outside by themselves (serious benefit of the rural life) and I check on them every ten minutes or so. This just means that I yell for the older and ask if the younger is with him. They have to be within yelling distance. In January, however, on a fifteen-degree morning, they did not answer when I yelled. Thankfully, my mother-in-law was home, so she stayed with the newborn while I followed the tracks (hooray for snow) of the wanderers ALLLL the way up and over the hill. They were at least a quarter of a mile away, playing on the gully bank.

    My older son told me they were hunting. He got a pretty good tongue lashing to the tune of, "You are five years old; your hunting partner is two. It is fifteen degrees and if anything happened in this kind of weather, you would be in serious danger. You do not evereverEVER go into that gully without Daddy." They haven't done it again.

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  15. When my son was about 6 he came into the kitchen while I had both hands up in a raw chicken and announced he was running away. I didn't think much of it until I heard the door slam 5 seconds later. Because I was covered with raw chicken I sent his older sister after him but she came back a few minutes later when she couldn't find him anywhere. I frantically washed up and dashed out the door with our useless non-tracking dog (who while not a good tracker, is an ace climber and would have jumped on the counter and eaten that raw chicken.) We searched the 'hood frantically for 20 minutes and no sign of him. Came back home to find my husband home early from work, disconcerted because we were all gone, door unlocked (I left it unlocked in case my son came home) and raw chicken on counter. He wondered if we'd all been kidnapped, including the dog. We all re-grouped and headed out again and queried various neighbors trying to use a non-terrified, nonchalant "oh hahaha happens all the time" tone of voice. Finally after about an hour we spotted him about 4 blocks away and chased him down. He said he was walking when he noticed he was being "chased" by a "weird lady with a dog" (turns out it was our neighbor Sue who noticed him on his own and decided to follow to make sure he was OK) and panicked and got lost trying to find our street. Which he eventually did on his own when he remembered our streets are numbered in descending order.

    Alls well that ends well. After hugs & punishments.

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  16. My 3yo is autistic and while we don't have the wandering problem you often hear about, this boy is tricky! Our backyard is fenced in and I've taken to letting the boys out back to play while I do the dishes, fold clothes, what have you. One day I just went to the restroom, when I went out back to check where he might be I noticed the back gate open. I didn't know he could open the back gate, but considering his current favorite place to hang out in the front yard is the corner/street staring up at his very favorite street sign, I panicked and ran through the backyard calling his name. I got around the house and found him picking dead crab apples up off the ground, oblivious to the panic.

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  17. When I was two I went missing for about 20 minutes. My parents died of about 752 heart attacks. When they finally found me, I was sitting in my playhouse eating chips. My mom asked why I didn't come when they called, and I answered very matter of factly, "I had to finish my chips first."

    Here's hoping karma isn't too big of a bitch.

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  18. Oh, that is the scariest! Forrest occasionally wanders in stores (never more than an aisle away...yet), and I always freak out. The scariest story (not for me, but as a spectator) was a year or two ago, when a little girl was wandering unsupervised through our neighborhood. It was summer, so a few parents were playing outside with their kids, and my neighbor noticed her and asked her where her parents were, where she lived, etc. And she couldn't answer any questions--she was old enough to talk, but didn't know her mom's name, didn't know her address, couldn't say which direction she had walked in from, etc. We finally had to call the police, who just drove around with her to see if she could recognize anything, and they just happened to drive right past her mom, who was out looking for her. Apparently she was playing in her yard but got out without anyone noticing, and walked for BLOCKS to end up on our street. If I remember right, she ended up living like a mile away from our street where someone finally noticed her and did something. Needless to say, we started working with Forrest to memorize his parents' names and address THAT DAY.

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  19. Grace, only you could turn a horrifying situation into a hysterical read! So, glad the little guy was just behind a curtain the whole time.

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  20. When my daughter was just under the 18 month old mark we were playing hide and go seek in our living room. It was my turn to count and I distinctly heard her open our bedroom door. When I finished counting I made the normal pretense of searching th living room and then moved into the bedroom. After a cursory search, I couldn't find her. I began to dig a little deeper into the closet - nothing. In the bathtub maybe? Nothing. I KNEW she was in there but the panic started to settle in. I switched from "wheeeeeeres Emmaaaa?" To "Emma! We're done playing! Come out!" Still nothing. Dead silence from a not even 18 month old. And then, I heard a foot immediately followed but the most hilarious little "oooooooh man!!" Turns out, she was under the bed. I had looked there, duh. But she had managed to crawl on top of a Rubbermaid container, effectively disappearing. 8 years later, she is still scary good at hide and seek

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  21. I seriously love your blog!!! And I love the part at the end when you said you moved little Theo to the bottom of the hierarchy...too funny! I have four children as well. But back when I had just two and was pregnant with my third, we were at a water park on the most hottest and crowded day ever in another state. I was feeling weak and sick and had mild braxton hicks contractions so I told my significant other that I was going to try and find a lounge chair (ha!! they were allllll taken and no one would get up for a pregnant person, rude right!) and sit for a minute while he watched our two girls. Well of course all the little girls looked alike in their matching bathing suits as we were trying to keep track of them splashing around and sliding down the kiddie slide. Well, I finally found the lounge chair, hiding behind a garbage can but I took it anyway. Within a few minutes of laying down, my significant other comes over to me and says I can't find Alexa. I picked up my head and thought, oh I can probably spot her super quickly. Well, I couldn't and after five minutes of circling the kiddie water area, I could not find her. Five minutes turned into ten which then turned into twenty minutes!! Did I mention that Alexa was only three years old at that time and had a very lispy type of speech which although cute was hard to understand. A lot of people started to help us search this incredibly packed water park. The lifeguards all had walkie talkies and were communicating to other lifeguards around the park. Meanwhile, I am minutes away from passing out from feeling sick on top of losing my beloved child thinking she was kidnapped and would never see her again when one of the lifeguards came up and said she was found by other park employees. They finally brought her to me which seemed like an eternity at that point (realistically probably just five minutes). I gave her the hugest hug, she said absolutely nothing, people clapped and hugged me and then went back to swimming. I asked her what in the world was she thinking. She told me she couldn't find me and decided to go for a walk and look for me! She said then these "big kids" (the park employees) came up to her asking if she was lost. She still remembers this story till this day. She is now 7. And all my kids know about staying by my side and to never wander!!

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  22. So, I was that child. I hid in my parent's closet when I was 8ish (& definitely knew better) for hours one day. I was mad at my mom about something (???). They searched everywhere and even called the police. My younger brother eventually discovered my hiding place & made me come out. I got a nice long lecture, but didn't get in too much trouble - probably because my parents were so relieved I was ok. I now have an 8 month old. I'll start praying he doesn't ever do that to me (because we all know that payback's a b@*^&!).

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  23. "...while I silently rearranged my hierarchy of favorite children and moved him to the very bottom, even beneath the road trip ruiner." Best line in all blog history.

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  24. Since I don't have kids to lose, I thought I would tell you about the time my brother "ran away from home". He was probably 6 or 7 at the time, got mad at my mom for something (I don't even remember) and went outside. After about 30 minutes, my mom started calling for both of us to come in for dinner and he was no where to be found. My parents live on a farm so there were PLENTY of places to hide, but I knew all of them so we spent the next TWO hours searching everywhere for him. My mom was so freaked out (and it was getting dark outside) that she called the neighbors to come help and eventually called the cops. Turns out he was hiding in one of the holes that were being dug for the foundation of the new addition on our house. I think my dad made arrangements to get the holes filled with concrete the next day even though they weren't scheduled to come for another week! Luckily for my parents, I was the angel child and never pulled anything like that ;-)

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  25. I had that "oh my gosh I lost my child" moment for the first time this Tuesday. I was helping my sister shop at our local craft store, and somehow I ended up being the one with a cart full of craft glass. After we went down one too many aisles, my two year old decided she had had enough and went left with a screech, while my sister spotted something she HAD to look at across the store, on the right. I was left in the middle with this cart full of glass. Of course I went after my normally noisy daughter, but when I got to the aisle she had gone down, she was nowhere to be found, and the store was very quiet. I went up and down, calling her name, but the only people I encountered were obviously judging me as they compared scrapbook sticker prices. I FINALLY found my girl in the kids craft aisle at the front of the store, looping buckets of stickers over her arm. She was fine, but I kept having images of one of those scrapbooking ladies sneaking her out of the store, or something just as awful.

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  26. When I was four I went missing at the (Montana mountains) cabin. My parents/sisters/aunts/uncles weren't sure if I had fallen down the outhouse or jumped into the very high and fast creek. In fact, I was just kicking it with a moose. Third children really are treats. ;)

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  27. I've had this *several* times with my oldest. He finds the edge of every boundary I've ever given him and then pushes it ever so gently or ungently to see if it will break. He has gotten lost at a:
    Target
    Neiman Marcus Last Call
    Target
    Costco
    Target
    (we've since stopped going to Target...kidding).
    I had to ask the employees at Last Call to find him on their surveillance system and guess where he was? In their WAREHOUSE just wandering through the aisles quietly looking at things. !?!?!?!? omg.

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  28. As one of eight siblings we had a rule when we went anywhere. It was a count-off from oldest to youngest. This rule had it's origins in two events involving the same knucklehead brother of mine that was a bit too adventurous for his own good. Once he was left behind in the mall because he sat down to eat his ice cream cone instead moving along like the rest of us and the other time he got impatient while waiting to leave the doctors office and crawled out the back window AFTER Mom had counted everyone in the car, and went to the little playground next to the office. We made it 20 minutes away when Mom kept asking him a question and didn't get a response. Oh yeah kids rock! always!

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  29. I lost Jaina at a movie theater during the kids summer movie fest. She left the bathroom under the stall door while I was still peeing. Talk about terrifying! We had to Code Adam the theater and shut everything down. She was found wandering around 5 minutes later.
    I lost Jayce, who has autism and wanders, three times. 1. Hatcher Gardens 2. The Myrtle Beach Aquarium 3. EdVenture Children's museum.
    I lost Jocelyn at Jaina's cheer camp. She had run out the door with another family and was standing by our van waiting while we were looking inside for her.
    I hope to goodness I am done with my stories!!

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  30. Both of my kids at one time hid under a bed and did not come out, even after many of us called out his name numerous times. Each time (in different locations) was in a home where there was no possible way they could have gotten out. It was probably only 10 minutes (but felt like an hour!) and logically, I knew I would eventually find him, but I started to think crazy questions like "is he stuck somewhere?", "is he not breathing?". I think, for my boys at least, that it got past the "ha ha, I'm being silly and hiding" and went into the "oh no, I better not come out or I am in trouble" territory so they just stayed silent until we found them. And by that point, I was am just glad they are alive and can see their fear so they get away with no punishment for giving their mother a potential heart attack.

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  31. My now 16-year old gave me 10,000 heart attacks when he was Theo's age. Anywhere we went he would bolt and hide. The worst was in Old Navy when he hid inside a clothing rack for what seemed like hours! Worst feeling EVER. I was ready to issue the Adam's Alert and he finally giggled and I found him. He was thereafter banished to the tightly buckled stroller seat until he was at least 13. It still makes my heart skip a beat when I think about it.

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