Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Have you ever lost a child? Even temporarily?
I am racking my brain to try and recall if I've ever misplaced one of my kids. I get the feeling I have, because the feeling of panic I am recalling is very real, but I'll be buggered if I can actually remember anything concrete.
I've done the opposite of losing my kid. Yeah, there is an opposite. I was in a big cement car parking type area once when Darby was around 14 months old and I was chatting with some work colleagues when suddenly I couldn't see Darbs. I started darting back and forth, turning in circles and basically having a full on panic attack. My colleagues were staring at me strangely. I remember squeaking out this strange breathless little "Darby ... I can't find Darby ..." and I can still feel the panic coursing through my body. They continued to stare with their mouths open. Then one of them pointed at my chest and I discovered he was in my arms all along. I was too relieved to feel embarrassed ...
But I just don't remember actually losing a kid.
Yesterday afternoon I got a call from a panicked school Mum to say her boy didn't turn up to "after school care". He is Darby's best friend. He's 7. As it turns out I'd seen him leaving school on his scooter and I figured he was riding home. So while there was some relief that he'd just forgotten what he was supposed to be doing with his afternoon, there was still the concern that he was arriving home to an empty house. Both Mum and Dad were at work. No worries, I'm on it. They live at the other end of our school district so it took me a little while to get there, but surely enough he was in the back yard with his dogs waiting patiently for someone to let him in the house. He wasn't the least big concerned. Mum, as you can imagine, was beside herself ... sitting at her desk rocking back and forth waiting for my call that all was ok. Which it was.
I remember we had a family that used to live across the road who misplaced their son. Dad had taken all three kids (one boy and two girls) to the girls basketball one weekend and once their game was done he trundled them all back home to a waiting Mum. Only he didn't actually have them all. Missing, one 7 year old son. (What is it with 7 year old boys?) Mum came out to greet them, hug them all, check on how they went. The girls were smiling, Dad was proud. Mum just kept staring at the car and finally said "where's Shane?" Dad looked at her blankly and said "isn't he with you?" She then started screaming "NO, he's with YOU!" Oh crap. He'd left him at the basketball stadium. Shock. And a very fast car ride back to the sports centre .....
A few years ago we headed to the coast for a weekend getaway with two other families. The kids must have ranged in age from toddler (Darby) to around 9 years old. All boys except for Tahlia. I remember us all loading up the cars and heading to the beach one day, with the kids all jockeying for their positions in each others cars. As we were unloading the boogy boards at the other end one Mum said to the Dad "where's Owen?" Everyone looked in their cars, had a quick look around and then realisation set in. OH shit! He was left at home! Dad jumped in the car, went squealing out of the car park and returned ten minutes later with the kid. The funny thing about that was that Owen didn't even know we'd left! He had been watching Spongebob. So we didn't tell him he'd been left behind ... he's none-the-wiser. And yes, you guessed it, he was about 7 years old at the time.
I have all these other stories about people misplacing their kids, but for the life of me I don't actually have one of my own. My gut is telling me otherwise. The muscle memory in my chest which is squeezing my wind pipe shut as I type is telling me that I have experienced the feeling of a misplaced child personally, but I just can't remember it. Perhaps it was so distressing I have blocked it out of my mind forever.
Perhaps it is a feeling of dread because I am the mother of (you guessed it) a seven year old boy.
Tell me ... have you ever misplaced your child?
One mother of the year award up for grabs ...