We took Caitlin in for her wellness exam today, where we also talked about the incredibly irritating Sniff, sniff! that she does every 5 seconds and talked about allergies. The doc recommends some sort of nasal spray and says, Ayup. Caitlin has some sort of allergy that is just causing her to sniffle, but not produce any actual phlegm. Oh and that stuff like Claritin needs 3 days continuous dosing to actually be effective. Who knew?
Well, clearly she did.
Then we talked about shots.
I had thought Caitlin was all done with shots until around 11, but apparently I was wrong. Turns out that they're now talking about a Chicken Pox booster (which they are out of, surprise!) and Hep A. Hep A is the food borne version of hepatitis and, I dunno, sounded like a good idea, so we got Caitlin the shot. She will need a follow up version in a year. Oh and it will apparently soon go on the list of required shots for children around age 1 or 2, so squirrel that knowledge away for those of you that do/don't do shots. Yet more shots.
I've gotta tell you, Caitlin is champ at the shot taking (She's so much better than I am and that I ever was as a little kid that I'm always amazed at her courage.). She watched everything and never turned a hair, cried, whined or anything. She was more interested than not. After her 5 year shots, I didn't know how she'd react, but apparently Hep A doesn't sting like the MMR from last year, so she was fine and we all went out for breakfast.
It was after breakfast that the trouble began.
We went into the Giant Hardware Store, in search of a couple of items. Eric was bringing the car around to the far side while Caitlin and I cut through the middle on our way to the giant bag of potting soil I hoped to find. We were 3/4ths of the way there when I happened to look at a toilet lid on display (No, really!) and then turned back and Caitlin was gone.
You know that first moment of panic you get when you lose sight of your kid in a public place? That feeling that something just clamped down hard on your chest and you can't breathe? Yeah, I got that. But then the rational side kicked in and said, She's just around the corner, goofball! Stop being so paranoid! So I kicked up my waddle a notch and looked around the corner. No Caitlin.
The squeezing feeling intensified.
Then I started up and down the aisles, calling for her without a response. I couldn't find her anywhere. I was literally on my toes with tension, calling. No response.
I made it to the end of the store, still calling and looking frantic.
A man casually passed by me and mentioned there was a little girl outside the store. I rush-waddled outside and there she was, pretty as you please, sitting on a picnic bench right outside the store.
I choked out "Don't you ever ever do that again!" and burst into tears and hyperventilated hysterically.
You know, it's really hard to talk when you can't breathe past the hysterical tears and crazed breathing. Eric showed up in 2 minutes and then he continued the Never Walk Away discussion. I don't know if it had any impact on her, but seeing me cry like that did.
I know that we've all been through this, all of us with kids at any rate. That moment of complete and utter panic when you think your child is gone. And that you never saw it happen and you just looked away for a moment. Maybe it's irrational to think that someone would grab my child in a public place and whisk her out of the store, but you try telling me that to my face and I'll likely throttle you. You'll probably mean well, but there's nothing you can tell a parent that will help in that situation. Nothing.
My worst nightmares are about losing Caitlin.
They were really inventive and paranoid nightmares when she was first born and all throughout her first two years. They'd calmed down within the last couple of years, but it doesn't mean that I'm not hyper vigilant about her safety when we're in public. Just because the chances are actually very small of something happening to her doesn't mean that they are the same as zero. So you can think, to yourself, all you want that I'm a paranoid wretch. I'll still be the one freaking out if something happens to her.
Or almost happens to her.
It feels a little like dying. Every time.