Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Rough Day

Almost lost my kid today.

Why is it that when you're late to pick up your perpetually late child, that this is the one time she gets out of the building on time? Then, when she doesn't see you anywhere nearby, starts wandering off.

Where exactly was she going? No one knows.

Wait. Let me back up.

So today was Parent Teacher Conference* day and I was running late. Originally we were going to take the twins, but they decided they had an urgent date with their blankies and cribs, so I left them in Eric's care. However, the leaving process took a little longer than intended and I was late to pick Caitlin up.

I looked for her outside, but saw neither hide nor hair of her.

I looked for her inside, but was assured by her teacher that she had already pulled an Elvis (The Caitlin has left the building!).

I went around to the playground, expecting to see her playing with a friend. No luck.

I went to the office, hoping to see her there all upset at my tardiness. Nope.

Then I started asking the other moms and received word that she'd headed off that-a-way. That-a-way, of course, is not even vaguely in the direction of our house. That's when the worry started creeping in.

Several moms thought it odd that they had seen her heading in that direction, but didn't stop her. Now, clearly, they were all wondering why they didn't check in with their gut instinct as they watched me crank up the Freaked Out Mom expression.

A cop pulled up in a cruiser and I was desperate enough to begin describing her to him when it struck me that I didn't even know what she was wearing that morning. I could describe her and her coat, but was she wearing blue jeans or some other color pants? She didn't wander off with someone, but could she be walking towards someone's house? Why not ours? (If you're going to pick a direction to go wandering, why wouldn't you pick the direction you know your house is in?!)

Just as I was regretting not having my cellphone on me, one of the dads drove up and announced that Caitlin had been spotted and was reeled in by one of the other moms. She was waiting for me in the office.

After thanking everyone profusely, I set off for the office. I could feel my heart hammering in my chest as the adrenaline, which had been set for Flight, was now resetting into Fight. I now understand why my mother would be so upset when she "lost" me that she'd take it out on me by yelling at me angrily once I was found. Wait, I thought you were scared. Why are you yelling?

I get it now.

I decided not to yell at Caitlin. I did have a hard time not crying though. However, Caitlin started crying in reaction, so I let her cry for both of us.

In case you're wondering, yes we've had this conversation before but she apparently "forgot". She was walking towards her friend's house to have his mom call us, completely forgetting that they have telephones in the school office.


I'm now thinking about putting a low-jack on that child.

Or maybe The Clapper.

I suppose I could go "old school" and just get a ball and chain, but that might put a cramp in her style at school.

What would you do?

* She's doing great! Thanks for asking.


Cousin Janet in NY said...

Jade used to wander off all the time when she was little. We once hid on the boardwalk in Wildwood & watched her just meandering down the boardwalk, oblivious of the fact that her family was nowhere near her, but it didn't upset her at all. Upset us, though. Don't know the solution, but I do know there are more bad people out there now than there were then & you just have to make them realize that. She is a smart little girl but if I was a kidnapper, I would want a gorgeous child like Caitlin so maybe you could get a nice leash for now. Pretend it's the newest thing in jewelry. Good luck with that! Love Cousin Janet in New York

ellen said...

Aside from totally freaking out like I would you have to talk to her again. And again. I'd say, she MAY NOT leave the school premises without you! Period. If mom or dad isn't there then she goes to the office, NO WHERE ELSE. Most kids need to be reminded about the rules. Over and over and over and over.

I lost Simon once when he was 3. Technically it wasn't my fault but I know the fear that sets in once you realize you really don't know where your baby is. We both were in tears when I got to him finally.

Scott said...

A few of the students I work with have GPS devices they wear all the time. One is painted to look like a watch.. albeit a very clunky watch.. with painted on hands.

In the end, reminding kids again and again about the rules is the way to go.

OOOh.. I just had a great idea.. we can get her one of those 'invisible fence' collars.. so if she tries to go outside of school grounds it'll make things interesting.

Good idea yeah? I'm full of 'em..

Woman with a Hatchet said...

We have told her exactly the same stuff previously, but apparently there's a time limit on how long her brain can hold such information.


Scott...I kinda LIKE that idea. Hmm. Remote Training for Kids!

If it weren't for that "cruel and unusual" part, it would sell like hotcakes!

Valerie said...

How scary! I'm glad all is well. And I'm taking notes on the reminding thing.

Red Flashlight said...

Subdermal microchip, ftw!

But seriously, I love the GPS idea. Maybe there's an invention there. Something that looks like cheap plastic jewelry but is in fact a GPS tracking device.

Monica said...

Devon's cell phone has an app that lets me see where he is at any time (or, at least, where his cell phone is). I've never used it, because that's a little stalker-y to do to your boyfriend, but it's a cool idea.

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