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Friday, July 18, 2008

Relief and Terror

Yasmina and I have the day off from everyone else today. Rich took the rest of the children to an Air Force air show today. This should be great fun for them. There are US fighter jets painted to look like the Japanese jets that bombed Pearl Harbor, and they fly low and have an explosives guy who sets off little explosions when one makes a pass, there will be all sorts of cool planes for them to look at and explore.

I am glad that Rich gets to go and that the children get to go with him. We've missed a fair we normally try to hit in the summer because it was the weekend after having Yasmina, and Rich missed an experimental flight expo that he's wanted to go to for some time, because it was this week and he knew he'd be too busy at home, so this kind of makes up for that. A little bit.

So, today ought to be relatively restful, quiet and simple for me. I plan on doing some laundry, nursing a baby, reading a book, watching Tom Lehrer on YouTube, sleeping. However, I am slightly terrified that one of the children will get lost at this Air Force Base. Not because Rich can't handle them, he does it all the time, but because it's so crowded, there are over 1000 people there who aren't normally there (and this is before it opens to the general public, today was the special pass day, open only to people who had the right connections really). Rich didn't want to go when it was open to the public because he knew it would be 10s of thousands of people, if not more. We were both hoping it would be even less crowded today than it is.

He went as early as possible to miss the bulk of the crowds, and put one of his business cards with his cell phone number on it on each of the children. The oldest two already know his number, but he thought it would be good to have it on them should they panic. All the children know our names, where we live and the name of the airport at which we reside and Rich works. Still. I asked Rich to take a picture of the children individually, as they are dressed today, with his phone, so if anyone does get separated, he can show a picture of exactly what they are in rather than give a description. Also, he has the stroller for Jerome (I am so wishing that our double stroller hadn't finally given up the ghost and died, as that would have kept two of them relatively stationary, two hooked up and the oldest the only one as a free agent), and Amira and Elijah are well trained to hook up to the stroller handles on either side. Alexander and Dominic have been well trained in our stroller/cart policy also, so they shouldn't go too far, but you never know when there are lots of things to look at and milling crowds.

They aren't planning on being home until around dinner time, unless I need them to come home sooner, so I will be praying all day for their safety as well as for them to have a good time. Since I have experienced what it is like to have a child go missing (remember the zoo trip of 2005?), the fear that grips you and the disappointment in finding how little other people seem concerned with the loss of your child, I hope that it never comes up even once today. Rich and I have a great deal of practice in keeping tabs on the children, the general counting of heads that is always going on, so I'm not too worried. Just worried enough to disturb my complete rest today.

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Praying that God will grant you peace. And that His ever-loving arms will be around Rich and the children to keep them safe.

I do hope they have an absolutely fanstatic, fun time. And that you do get a chance to rest.

Love ya' all. ~Becky
You have my thoughts and love as well.

At the bookstore, we frequently had lost kids, and one of the best conversations of my life was with a 3 or 4 year old who had gotten separated from her father. They were safely reunited ten minutes later, no worries. I have often wished, though, that if parents are going to take their children with them to busy places, they have a way of making sure the kids, who can panic so easily, have a way of giving information to other adults. Your system sounds awesome.
Thank you Becky. I haven't had any phone calls from Rich, so at least I know things are going well enough so far!

Kristine, like I said I'm not overly worried. Just worried enough. ;) However, that is also because I am consciously avoiding the not just lost but weirdo observing and luring them away thoughts. I thought Rich's plan was pretty good, too, and he agreed with my photo taking idea, so I figure we're covered in the general lost scenario.

We've never left any of the children in any place where we didn't intend to (and with supervision!), but there have been two other times, besides our school zoo trip, that we've had children go missing. Once was when Alexander turned four and we invited one of his friends to go to the movie theater with us for a Veggie Tales movie. We were trying to get our three boys, this friend, his mother, Rich and me all settled in, with popcorn, drinks, etc. and the darkness of the theater and the noise just flipped Dominic out. He ran out of the theater. Well, I extricated myself and went after him, to find him circled by the teenage movie theater staff who were trying to keep him from getting to the outside door. Poor kid. And those poor minimum wage workers trying to save a two year old from running out and getting run over or worse.

The other time was a year following this. We went to a friend's 4th of July party, which was at their rather large and lavish home. Elijah was just starting to walk and didn't like being told he couldn't grab their expensive breakable things. He's persistent, too. Now, these people are child friendly, they've told us time and again how well behaved our children are, how much they delight in having them visit, and after hearing my numerous warnings to our children not to touch anything, have told me they would never have a home where a child couldn't be there and break something. Still.

Well, Elijah was getting tired, he'd already eaten, Rich was taking the older boys around the yard and down near the water and I was tired of carrying Elijah around and trying to keep his little wriggling self out of the way. A very kind woman offered to take him for a walk in the stroller we had brought (he was sick of just sitting in it without moving). She did so, and it gave me a break to get a drink, socialize and not worry about him getting into things he shouldn't. Then Rich returned with Alexander and Dominic and asked where Elijah was. I told him what happened, and then thought that it had been a long time since she had gone.

I realized that I didn't know this woman. We had just met at the party. She seemed pleasant and friendly enough, but then so did axe murderers. Maybe she was one of those people they make Lifetime Dramas about, who steal children because they couldn't have any of their own. I thought of the surgery I had to have to deliver him, and the heartache we had over his tumor and surgery and the thought that I might never see him again, and I went looking. I went all around the house, the yard, the street and couldn't find him. I came back in after several passes, and a few minutes later the lady returned with the stroller and Elijah, and he was calmer and so was I.

I just remember the fear I had when I realized I had handed my one year old son to someone I didn't know.
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