Apr. 9th, 2011

lemon_says: (Default)
We went to a park near my parents' house yesterday. My dad had smuggled the kids' Jeep back so they get to use it more, and this park has a huge circle to drive. They were thrilled. I had also brought their scooters, so they alternated scooting and driving for a while. (For the record, I am not the most overprotective mother in the world. Ez did not remove his helmet by choice, as he was quickly bouncing from activity to activity; I did require the helmet while he was on the playground slide, as I'm sure it appeared to bystanders.)

Anya and my dad started off on the big circle, her on the scooter, and Ez following along in the Jeep and I with him. On the back part of the loop they stopped and went up and down a long, steep hill several times. Once I noticed Anya was starting to walk the scooter up instead of riding it, I asked if she was getting tired and suggested that the next time she came down, we just finish up the circle. She said that was a good idea, and whizzed by me on the trail.

Ez came along, and we all kept going around the circle. Anya, with her momentum from the hill, zipped around a curve and was blocked from my view by thick trees.

I went around the curve and she was gone.

I sped up, as did my dad. He said she was likely around the next curve, and since he can walk faster than I he sped up more and went ahead. By the time I got to that curve, I realized by the way he was walking that he still didn't see her.

I cut across the trail and through the woods to get back to where my mother was sitting, at the pavilion where we had started. My dad and Ez and I looked for Anya on two separate parts of the trail. I admit at this point I started to panic a bit, and I looked in the filthy creek and culverts just in case. I could see my dad and Ez making haste along the farthest loop, but no scooter with a little blonde girl. The park was busy, but not so much that you never found yourself alone on the trail, and I started to feel sick.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I did manage to keep the idea that she had probably just completed the loop quickly and was waiting with my mother. I knew that was almost certainly where she was. It was that "almost" part that got to me. She knows, as we have been over hundreds of times, that if I cannot see her when we are somewhere large or crowded, then she needs to freeze and look for me because I am always looking for her. That's my rule: I have to be able to see you. Even though I know that these things are almost always fine, what mother doesn't consider the "almost"?

You can imagine my relief when I jogged (yes, me, jogging through the woods in flats) to the pavilion and found her, scooting in circles around my mother. Since my this point it felt like my leg was going to fall off, I slowed down and began making "I'm going to cut her throat" gestures at my mother and pointing at the kid. My mother, who had originally intended to get snippy with me over letting Anya ride off alone, realized what had happened and called Anya over.

I was so angry, but the kid immediately burst into tears when she saw me. She had misunderstood me; when I said we would just finish the circle, she thought I was telling her to just go ahead and finish it. I reminded her (not kindly, I admit) of my see-you rule anyway, but what we figured out was that after she went around the second curve, she stopped to look for us and didn't see us. She went back to that curve, but we hadn't cleared the first yet and she suddenly panicked and thought we had taken the other trail that had branched off, so she went back to the pavilion as fast as she could, knowing Grandma was there.

Thirty seconds is a long time when you can't find your kid. Nearly ten minutes when you can't find your kid in the woods is worse. I swear to God I am having them both Lo/Jacked until they're 20.


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