Every parent has a fear at the back of their mind. A recurring nightmare. An nagging anxiety that just won’t disappear.
For me, it’s a fear of losing a child. And that fear has grown each time we’ve added to our brood. With four children, you could call it a full blown phobia. It just seems inevitable that at some point in time, I will lose track of someone, abandoning some child on a deserted sports field as dusk settles around them.
Last weekend, that fear came true. It was just for 10 minutes, and not in a scary, rest stop at the side of highway type of place, but we still lost Juju. She wandered around at our community pool, gazing up at adults she didn’t know, searching for her family until my husband realized she wasn’t with her big sister and came back to find her.
“Mom? What happens if I lose you on the street? What should I do?”
“Oh cutie, don’t worry, stop crying, we won’t lose you ever again! But if you should ever get separated from us, find a policeman on the street and they’ll help you find us.”
“But MOM, what if there are no policemen around?”
“Well then you walk into a store and ask a person who works there to help you.”
“But what if the stores are all closed?”
“Then you look for a mom, someone with little kids, and she’ll help you, just like I would.”
“But MOM, what if it’s nighttime, and the shops are all closed, and there’s no one around, no moms, no police, no one but VAMPIRES! What do I do then?“
I didn’t manage to convince her that vampires don’t exist beyond the Disney Channel and the CW, but we did start working on memorizing my cell phone number and increasing her confidence of her home address, facts I dangerously assumed she knew. Because she’s exposed to so much by her older siblings, it’s easy to forget that she’s only five, such a little girl.
I wish I could have spared her the anxiety of being lost in a crowd, but if it makes us better prepared should her little hand ever slip out of ours at an airport or subway station, then the fear was worth it. Does your child know their phone and address? Check in with them. You might be surprised that they’ve forgotten.