Misplacing my child, Part II

So, I guess I need to come clean.

I’ve misplaced a kid more than one time.

Neither time was my fault. Seriously. These little buggers are so slimy and slippery and fast. SO fast. They’re evil, I tell ya. EVIL.

The most recent time a kid went missing was even scarier than the first time (see post below about the Children’s Museum.)

We were at the zoo (what’s with my luck in these very public places??) earlier this summer, and I was walking with our youngest in the stroller and Middle Man was walking beside me. We were walking around the bend near the hot dog stand near the rollercoaster, and Middle Man said, “I want something to eat, mom.” I said we’d wait to meet up with Dad and his older brother and chat about eating some lunch. I took a few more steps and turned to tell him to keep up, when I didn’t see him beside me. I looked around behind me and … nothing. I started yelling his name, and looking all around, and I felt the same surge of fear well up.

I couldn’t find my kid.

I was with some friends who had invited us to the zoo that day for a birthday party. I turned and I yelled to them, “Where is he??!!”

Two girls in our group said at the same time: “He was just here.”

I yelled at them to stay with the stroller, and I bolted off in the direction from which we had just come. I was looking everywhere and calling his name. Tears were welling up in my eyes. My mind was racing…

There are so many ways out of this place.

He could be anywhere.

He’s only 5.

He’s adorable and someone stole him–and they have no idea what they’re gonna get with this one.

I am not going to be able to find him.

Maybe he headed back to the tattoo booth.

I’m not going to get to the front entrance in time.

As I was heading back the way I had come, I ran into my husband.

“I don’t know where he is.”

“What do you mean you don’t know where he is?!”

At this point, I’m about to lose it. I just scream back at him to go stand with the group at the stroller in case he comes back.

Then I start.

I’m running.

I must look like an absolute freak. I’m running and screaming his name all the way back toward the entrance.

RUNNING.

YELLING.

SWEATING.

PRACTICALLY CRYING.

Then, all of a sudden, I realize another person from our party group is with me, helping look for him. I felt better to have this big dude with me in case I needed him–which, of course, I hoped I wouldn’t. But at this point, I needed someone. Something.

I was seriously scared.

And then, his phone rings.

They found him.

B R E A T H E

Oh

My

God.

Turns out, Middle Man had walked AHEAD of us because he saw a SpongeBob character near the rollercoaster. When he turned around, we weren’t there, and he started crying and walking back the way he had come, which is when he found my husband, who was walking ahead to look for him.

He was scared.

I was scared.

I broke down and cried then. In front of hundreds of people. I had tears streaming down my face by the time I got back to our birthday party group. I grabbed him and immediately yelled, “Where were you? I was scared to death!”

Of course, this isn’t the best reaction to have when a kid was just rattled … but I usually don’t handle this kind of crap very well.

Needless to say, I was all shaky and screwed up for most of the rest of that day.

So anyway … that’s my story of losing my kid. I never thought to look IN FRONT of us. I always think he’s the straggler … the one who’s dragging his feet, picking his nose, screwing around. Turns out he was moving faster than the rest of us. It never even occurred to me to look ahead.

LOOK AHEAD.

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