Friday, October 7, 2016

In a Blink of an Eye

Recently there was a story in the news about a little boy in a nearby town who managed to get out of the house unnoticed. The father left him watching television while he changed his clothes, fetched his keys and took the stroller outside, so he could take his son to collect his other children from school. When he came to get him, he was no longer there. After searching the house, and the yard, the father wisely called both his wife, and the police. The boy was quickly located about three blocks from home. It's any family's worst nightmare to have a child go missing, even for a few moments.

I asked my Facebook friends if anyone had either had to search for one of their children, or had anyone search for them when they were young. Only one person admitted that one of her kids managed to escape the house, and she suggests all kids today need to be wearing a gps watch, and all doors opening to the outside should have an alarm buzzer installed.

I'm sure there were others who had stories to tell too, but they were likely afraid someone would find fault with their parenting. Some people, who have never lost a child, have no understanding of how quickly these things can happen.

As a young child, out shopping with my grandmother one day, I apparently disappeared. She found me sitting, eating ice cream, with some friendly police officer. Apparently when I saw her, I said, "Nana, you got losted." I was returned to her care, and all was well.

Then when I was about 12, I went for a bike ride with some friends. After our picnic, one of the girls discovered her tire had gone flat. It was about two miles home, and she was going to have to walk it, so one of the others went with her. Myself, and another girl decided to ride over the North Mountain from Kingston, NS, to the little fishing village of Margaretsville.  It was spring time, and the dirt roads were muddy, and we had to walk some sections of the road ourselves. When it was time to come home, we took better roads over a much longer route. When our parents noticed the other two girls were back, and we had not returned they went looking for us. Of course, in those days, we didn't have cell phones, or money with us to use a pay phone, even if we had thought to call in.  When we arrived back home, other kids came running to tell us everyone was out looking for us, even the police. Well, I knew I was in trouble for the first time that day, when I heard that. Though I was grounded for two weeks, it really wasn't necessary, as I worried so much about what would happen when my folks got home that I had already learned my lesson.

My mother lost my oldest son once too, about 45 years ago, while we were living with her. He liked to ride his tricycle and she lived on a crescent. Eventually he got bored just going back and forth, and she let him go around the block. Of course he got bored with that too, and one day he just kept going. 

I was waiting to be picked up at my doctor's office, and had no idea what was taking so long. Once again, there were no such thing as cell phones back then and I had already left the doctor's office, and was waiting out by the parking lot. My young son was spotted happily riding his trike down the edge of the highway, when one of the search cars needed to be refueled.  When asked where he was going, he said he was going to visit "Uncle Ron" (who later became his Dad). That would have been a 50km ride, and I have no doubt he knew the way.

A couple of years later, we lost the same kid again. This time it was at the Ottawa Ex.  There was a Children's Pavilion that year. They wouldn't let the parents in, but assured us that there was only one way out, and we were to wait for the kids there.  There was quite the obstacle course in there, and we saw him come down the slide at the end of it.  He saw us, but was having a grand time and wasn't ready to come out, so he doubled back and came down the slide again, a couple of times in fact, before disappearing.  Then Ron went in looking for him, whether he was supposed to or not. The child was nowhere to be found.  He had located a door that led to the washrooms, and apparently there was another door out of there, to the fair grounds.  He was loose, somewhere at the Ex, and my biggest worry was that he would leave the grounds if he couldn't find us, and head back to the car. He'd find it okay, if he made it across busy city streets. There was a tent for lost kids near the entrance, and two routes to get there, so we split up.  Moments later I went by a video arcade, and knew that if he had gone that way, he'd be in there. Sure enough, he was. I just got lucky, as the only security guard I found and reported the missing child to, seemed more ready to blame me than to look for him, and he never put out an alarm.

And this brings me to why I think I only got one story when I asked for it.  Today people are always so quick to place blame when something happens to a child. I believe we all do the best we can at any given time. No one wants anything to happen to their children, but sometimes kids just do what kid do.  These things happen. And I'm sure they happen a lot more often than I was being told while trying to get some stories.

Just like me, my son never had the sense that he was lost on these adventures. Often, only those left behind suffer the absence of a child. But I'd never wish it on anyone, even for a few minutes.

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