Us parents need to hug our children more often. Tell them how much we love them, how much they mean to us, how grateful we are to have them in our lives more often. After this afternoon, I can no longer understand how some parents, myself included sometimes, can take their children for granted.
I experienced the most frightening 5 minutes ever this afternoon. Stuck feeling heartbroken, upset, angry with myself, and yet also so grateful it was just 5 minutes and even more so, so grateful other people, complete strangers, men, women, and children, were able to come to my aid.
This afternoon, I lost my son. As we were re-entering the Town Green, the group we were with including myself, and two younger children stopped at the Christmas tree as it was going to be lit soon. Thomas kept walking. As soon as we got the three strollers lined up, I did my usually counting of the children, coming up short by one. That one was Thomas.
I immediately asked if he went off with a few others to the obstacle course. No one knew. I ran over their and those people has not seen him. Pure panic set in. With out a care who heard, I began screaming, "Thomas" as loud as I could. Immediately, an older man asked me what he was wearing, what he looked like, and his age. More and more people asked as I searched the crowd, screaming for my son. Tears began streaming down my face, just as they are right now as these short 5 minutes replay in my mind again. Within moments many others were searching for my precious baby boy.
Just as soon as the panic set in, there he was. In a police officers arms. "Is this your son?" he started to ask, but before he could finish I had snatched Thomas out of the officers arms thanking him over and over again. I ran my hand down Thomas' cheek, I hugged him and kissed him, and told him how much I loved him. I told him how frightened I was and how glad I was to see him. Then he began crying, "I didn't know which way you went, Mommy!"
He told me he told some kids he lost his mommy, and needed a policeman, something we have gone over before. Just as one mother was going to the mic to make an announcement Thomas had told the policeman my name, his, and our address and phone number.
As Thomas and I walked back to the group we were with, who were watching Collin and Bailey, person after person came up to us, so happy Thomas and I found each other. Strangers hugged us. I thanked each person for helping me, and just held on to Thomas so very tightly. I did not want to let him go.
I hope this scare is enough to remind others, that a child getting separated from his or her parents in a crowd can happen to anyone. Even a so-called "helicopter parent" who is constantly keeping their children within an arms reach, the parent who is always telling their children to stay close.
Please, fellow parents, teach your child what to do if they ever get lost. Teach them to search for a peer or someone in uniform. Teach them their full names, your full names, address, and your cell phone number. Please.
Though he was only gone for 5 minutes, those 5 minutes were long enough for us to lose each other and anything could have happened in such a large crowd at dusk.
And please, keep your faith in people. Though it doesn't always seem it, most people are willing to help, offer a hand, scream out a child's name, and be just as happy as the parent in distress, when the lost child is found.
As for me, I am just so grateful for the help I received and to have my son here with me.
Don't ever take your children for granted, in a split second they can be gone, and many others are not found. Give those children extra hugs and cuddles. Let them have that sweet when they ask and it's still hours until dinner. Let them run with others. Let them have fun. And have fun with them. Before we all know it they will be too old to enjoy the kisses and hugs and I love yous. They will be too old to play with us. Enjoy those babies, I know I will.