Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Panic

Bump brought Lumpyhead and Lula in for lunch today. We were joined by Linda, my colleague and one of the tormentors' favorite babysitters. She couldn't join us the last time Bump and the tormentors came in for lunch, and Lumpyhead spent the whole meal asking "Where's my friend Linda?"

Linda and I helped get the kids to Bump's car after lunch. As we were walking to Bump's parking space, my head burst into flames. (Well not really, but jebuz, could it BE any hotter in DC? Damn.) Bump had gone on ahead, and Lumpyhead found a fire hydrant (awesome!) with letters on it (score!), a treasure that could easily keep him occupied for a good fifteen minutes. Linda had doted on Lula during lunch - leaving Bump and me free to eat - so I took the opportunity to play with the baby a little before she went home with her father. A few coos and kisses later, I turned around and Lumpyhead was gone. GONE.

We were on the corner of a city street, and he was no where to be seen.

I thought I was going to die.

I managed to stammer "Where's Lumpyhead?" and Linda started looking around wildly for him. Right before I started to scream Linda said "Oh, there he is" and pointed halfway down the block behind me, where Lumpyhead was running toward Bump.

Lumpyhead was fine, but managed to get 150 feet away from me in the blink of an eye. Had he run out into traffic instead of toward Bump, there would have been no way I could have reached him had he been in danger.

Lumpyhead was "missing" for about three seconds, but it was long enough for my throat to close and my heart to race and my vision to start going black.

I like to think of myself as someone who is hard to ruffle. That I have the ability to keep calm and level-headed in most crisis situations. But this afternoon I felt panic - the kind of terror that leaves you unable to think clearly or breathe normally - for a few horrible seconds.

Parenthood certainly raises the stakes, doesn't it?

What about you? Have you ever "lost" your children? Were you ever lost as a child?

14 comments:

theotherbear said...

Once when I was 2, my aunty was looking after my sister and I along with her own 4 kids. Wrangling 6 kids must have been difficult. When she got groceries, she left me sitting in the cart and said 'don't move, I'll be right back' and then forgot me and drove home. She only noticed once she unpacked the car and did a head count. I was fine, still obediently sitting there waiting. I think it was 10 years before she fessed up to my mum. Ha.

Molly said...

When I was maybe five, my mother took me and my two teenaged half-brothers (my father's sons from his first marriage, she was divorced from him at that point but still had a good relationship with her stepsons) on a skiing vacation in Northern Michigan. I was part of a sort of daycamp skiing class, and for reasons that no one was ever able to determine, the counselor/instructor sort of person took the rest of the class back out to the mountain after a hot chocolate/warm-up break, and totally forgot me. Evidently she did realize that she was a kid short, but never bothered to go back and look for me. I was pushed around by some older kids, as I recall, and someone finally found me wandering around the lodge, crying, realized I was lost, and took me to the ski patrol, who paged my mother.

She was absolutely enraged at the ski school, of course, and I remember that the instructor got into a pretty impressive amount of trouble.

That thing that you described with Lumpyhead--yeah, I totally live in fear of that. Max is maybe a month younger than him, and he has a tendency to dart off like that if I don't keep him within arm's reach. If they knew how scary that was for their parents, they'd never do it. Or they'd do it every time. Depends on the kid, probably.

Em said...

SO glad he was fine. It totally depends on the kid. Henry would've been the one to take off, so maybe we're out of the woods on this one scary issue.

When I was about 7 my dad forgot me at the neighborhood drug store and walked home without me! But fortunately for me I was reading comics and didn't notice he had left the store. Still. Worse than me wandering off I was actually just left...

the larsons said...

It was a cold February day and I went out to warm up the car. Came back in, told my then 16 month old to hang on while I went to pee before we left. I came out of the bathroom and she wasn't there. I freaked like I've never freaked before. Flung open the door to outside, heard her cries from somewhere. Looked down, and there she was, lying in a pile of leaves right in front of my idling stick shift car, parked in our steep driveway. She had fallen about five feet from porch to gravel driveway.

Once I scooped her up and brought her inside, she stopped crying. I got on the phone with my doctor friend (a colorectal surgeon of all people) to assure me that she was fine. Then I put her down, and I myself laid on the floor for 10 minutes screaming and crying. She looked at me like I was nuts and ran off to play. Even a day later, I was still crying, lying on the couch basically unable to function. I'm hardly exaggerating here.

I can't even type that story without crying to this day. I know the terror you felt. So glad he is OK.

Laura Nelson said...

I have been lurking on your site trying to get through all of your archives and I finally get to comment! When my sister and I were young, my sister would get lost all of the time. The minute she saw a mirror she would start posing, not realizing this, we would move on. After a few good scares my mother got her an identification bracelet...she refused to talk to strangers trying to help her. Now our family purposely tries to loose her in stores, yes we think this is funny and don't worry she's 30. No matter how oblivious she is to the game, we can't loose her. Over the years she has apparently developed an internal tracking system.

Anne said...

I don't ever remember "getting lost", but my mom always told a story about me "running away" one day. Apparently I left her a note that said "I am running away. (Do not worry I will come back.)" and I went, like, up the street to my friend Wayne's house.

I have only the vaguest memory of that, and I have no idea what I was mad about that made me want to run away. But she said that she asked me later about why I wrote the note like that and apparently I told her "I didn't want you to be scared if I wasn't here."

So apparently I've only turned into a bitch in recent years. :)

Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah said...

I remember getting lost at church one time. I still feel traumatized. (It was a really big church.)

We lost Claudia in a shoe store a couple of months ago. I had a pretty good idea where she was, but she didn't know where I was. I saw her sprinting across the back of the store. She ran the wrong way. We weren't seperated for more than a minute but it took 10 minutes to calm her down. It was still scary.

nonlineargirl said...

Very scary. I once "lost" ada in a store, when she climbed under a circular clothing rack. She thought it was hilarious.

Anonymous said...

I lost my middle child at a VERY crowded playground. A group of 4 playgrounds, actually. He is 3. I dumped my older/younger kids on her (she had a 2yo running around too) and panicked around the playground! I found him probably 3 MINUTES LATER, sitting on a plaything, trying to put his shoe back on.

Longest 3 MINUTES of my LIFE!

Anonymous said...

...continued from previous... lost 3yo at park...

I wondered how I was going to go home and inform my husband that "I lost one of the kids today."

Not a conversation I wanted to consider. Ever.

:P

mcfartingtons said...

That is the worst feeling ever! Shorty would not follow me in the store one day, so I pulled the "OK, well I'm just going to the next aisle without you" (this was a couple months ago, he's 6). I walked around the corner and waited. After about 5 seconds, I went back to look for him & he wasn't there. I looked long enough to ask someone if they had seen a little red-head boy wandering around. It scared the crap out of me & I'm sure I will either wait for him, or drag him with me next time!

Julie said...

I'm so glad Lumpyhead is OK.

At Christmas we took our kids to Babies-R-Us and had their pictures taken in the studio there. The photo area is semi-enclosed, but there is an open doorway out to the rest of the store. While the Jellyman went to pay (which you have to do at the regular cashier desk -- dumb!), Apple wandered out while I was distracted with the girls. I didn't realize he was gone for a couple of minutes.

When I raced out into the store, a woman was just carrying him back -- thank God she'd seen us chasing him earlier and she remembered where he belonged.

It still makes me sick to my stomach.

Anonymous said...

I have lived through Three Mile Island, a criminal assault and the death of family members, but I have never been so scared as I was when I lost my toddler at KMart. I was helping his brother try on shoes, looked up and he was gone. I didn't know a person's mind could function so quickly. I was turning in circles while my mind is screaming, "Where are the exits?! Which is closer?! How do I get them all closed down so no one can get away with him?! Is he hurt or is someone planning on hurting him?! " and on and on. I snatched up my toddler and literally ran through the store yelling his name, sobbing. Incredibly, I don't remember anyone trying to help me. After a lifetime that was really only a couple minutes, my husband ambles up, with baby in tow. Seems he "told me" he was taking baby with him to sporting goods, but didn't verify that I had heard him. The only scare that even came close was the day baby choked on a toy piece, but we won't even go there today.

Stimey said...

I lost my then 1 1/2 year old at a mall for five minutes. I never want to go through that again. I can't even think about what could have happened.