Monday, November 24, 2008

The longest 10 minutes of my life

Sunday we had a busy day, we ran errands and then went to the Zoo. We go there a lot, especially in cold weather. They have a great indoor play area where the boys can burn off a little energy and I don't have to freeze at a park. Perfect. So anyway, we were there on Sunday, but Little Dog was not into it and Big Dog wanted to see some animals. It wasn't that cold, so we decided to take a walk and see some exhibits. After that, Little Dog was done. Really really done. He needed to go home. I told Big Dog we were heading out and we started walking toward the exit.

Big Dog decided he wasn't quite ready to go, or maybe he was just frustrated that Little Dog was slowing down my progress, but he decided to run off ahead. Way ahead. I couldn't see him. I yelled for him and he didn't respond. At first I thought he was probably just at the first exhibit at the end of the path, but he wasn't. And the path became a T. I picked up Little Dog and told him we needed to find his brother. I ran down one side, then the other. Still no Big Dog. Now I was really starting to freak out. Little Dog was asking, "Mama, where is Big Dog?" and I had no idea.

I walked further down the path one direction yelling his name and then I realized if I walked too far down this direction and Big Dog backtracked from the other direction, he might panic if he didn't see me. So I headed back to the T in the path, still yelling and now starting to get teary. Little Dog was helping me yell, for every time I called out for Big Dog, his littler, but still pretty big, yell was like an echo of my call. A very nice family stopped and asked if they could help. Thank you! I gave them a description and they actually split up, mom and daughter heading one direction, son and father going the other, to help me find my boy.

After a few more moments, the daughter ran back and asked if I'd called the police yet. I hadn't, so I pulled out my phone and started to dial. And then I saw him walking back down the path, hand in hand with a woman who was helping him find his mom. Thank you! I ran to him, dropped to my knees and gave him a very tight squeeze. Tears were streaming down my face, I could hardly talk and the kind woman who brought him to me was now trying to calm me.

He'd been up the path by the cafe. This kind woman, and her friend who was just a few steps behind, had seen him standing there alone and asked him where his mommy was. When he replied "She's chasing me!" they knew that wasn't good. The asked him what I looked like and what I was wearing then set out to find me.

I don't think my heart rate has yet returned to normal. Even just thinking about this is making me weepy again. Big Dog and I have had a very serious talk about not running off. And I ordered an ID bracelet with my contact information on it, should we get separated again, but I don't know if that will really help. Though my first instinct was to never leave the house again, or to duct tape my children to my body so we never get separated again, I don't think either of those are realistic solutions. We're going to have to keep on having these talks so he doesn't forget, and I'm going to have to keep remembering that this time, there were kind people ready to help, and that everything turned out ok. But I keep rerunning the what ifs.


Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you found your son.

That's so scary. I lost my daughter in Barnes & Noble (at Christmas) once. I thought I was going to die. There's this panic that comes over you that I can tell you felt. She turned out to be behind the counter and fine.

But I can relate to your feeling of never wanting to leave the house again.

Take care.

AC said...

OK. This is the 2nd time I have happened to just drop by your blog and really connected w/ your writing. Good job girl! I had a similar amber alert moment that I wrote about in a previous post on crazy jugs. Chx it out if you're interested!

I have a habit of writing too much, but this post has photos so you can skim easily!

Have a great Monday! Thanks again for your blog! I am officially following ya!

Anonymous said...

I am SO glad it all turned out okay. We had a scare like this a few weeks ago and it is amazing how long a few minutes can feel. Both my kids have ID bracelets with their first name and my cell number on it.

Green said...

Oh my god how terrifying. I was once with a friend when her daughter got lost at Borders. We thought she was with a third friend and didn't realize she wasn't until the third friend came back and we were like, "Where's T?" and she said, "I thought she was with you guys."

It wasn't even my kid and my heart was in my throat. We found her a few minutes later walking towards us holding the hand of a man who was helping, right as I was about to go tell a Borders employee to lock down the store.

She got a yelling-at and a lot of big hugs, and never did it again.

I hope your guys never scare you again either.

chihuahua5 said...

oh sweetie, i'm glad you found Big Dog and I actually think the ID bracelets are a great idea for both big and little dog.

sorry. but also it's nice to know there are still nice people in the world that will take the time to help out.

geekymummy said...

OH my goodness so scary. So glad you found each other.

Robin said...

How terrifying. My heart was pounding just reading this. Thank goodness for happy endings.

BoneFolder said...

When we were visiting my brother, Grey left the rehab center (!) and ran across the street, when he was old enough to know better.

There's not much chance my brother could have walked out of the place, but they let a 4-year-old kid walk out? Nice security. It took us a while to find him -- it's a biggish place and we had no idea he would be able to leave the building, so yeah -- I know that panic.

When we finally found him, I was so upset that I just said "YOUR FEET don't get to TOUCH THE GROUND for the rest of the day." And we carried him everywhere. My mom proclaimed this response to be "inconvenient" (it's not about convenience, mom), but MAN did that kid not like not getting to go anywhere under his own volition.


Z said...

Oh, that's scary! I'm so glad it turned out OK...

Mrs. F said...

OMG, just hearing your story, the memories come flooding back and the feeling returns.

I took Caleb to the mall with me to pick up some pictures from JCPenney, which happens to have its own entrance. I am viewing the pictures for NOT 10 SECONDS, I turn around to guage where he was (he was 3 at this time), and he was GONE! The other family in the studio helped me look for him, security locked down the mall and I ran outside, just to make sure he was not out there.

The panic that was flowing through me...OMG, what if a car had driven by and swooped him up, etc?

I went to the security desk about 10-15 minutes in to the ordeal and while I was there they were alerted that there was a child on the merry-go-round without a parent. The nice merry-go-round worker was letting him ride until I got there.

I handed out almost all of my pictures of him to the people helping me. Luckily they had no interest in keeping pictures of him and they gave them all back.

I do not think of that story that often, but every time I do I feel the same way I did when it was happening. Panic-stricken, hot, and teary.

Also? The merry-go-round was all the way ACROSS the mall...Oy.

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