No parent wants to think about anything bad happening to their kid. We joke sometimes but really we love those little buggers! Well let me tell you a story that happened to us this weekend.
Bear is in preschool and they go out for play every day as long as it’s over 20°. New England kids are hard core bro! Well I forgot to buy him snow pants sine it was 70° on Christmas. So off to our local Target we go. Normally he’s more than happy to just ride in the cart until we go home. But this time the magical Yoda mirror caught his eye. Needless to say I heard a few times how he wanted to see what he looked like in it. I was happy to let him check it out since I was for some reason neck deep in swim trunks in January. He gets out and i recite the blanket statement “stay where I can see you.” Now normally that’s all I have to say. He knows that if he can’t see me, I can’t see him. So as I’m swimming though a sea of swim wear he takes the 10 steps to this magical mirror. About a minute later I realize, I can’t hear him talking about Yoda or star wars. I turn and I can’t see him anywhere.
I try not to panic, he’s wondered off before. I tell myself he’s just over in the toy section right next to the the mirror. Except he’s not. He’s not anywhere I check. I try not to walk to far in case I just didn’t see him behind a rack. But he’ s not in eye sight. He’s not in ear shoot. He’s not here. Panic sets in.
The kind of panic no parent ever wants. The kind that makes you think the worst. ” Could someone have grabbed him?” “Could he be hurt?” “Did he wonder out into the dark parking lot?” All I can do is grab someone in a red shirt who I think works there and tell them my son is lost. Tell them to find him.
That’s when I heard it.
“Ari…. Please come to the front. Your party is waiting.”
That’s me. My party, my son, was waiting for me.
I don’t run. It’s not my thing. But I would have won a marathon once in heard those words.
As I got the to the front I saw the son waiting with two employees and as soon as he saw me he ran over and hugged me. We both cried for just a moment. That’s when it really hit me. They knew my name. My son had followed the plan.
We often talk about what to do in different situations. Who to go to for help. What to tell them. But I’m never sure if he really hears me or remembers. But that day I realized he did. I was so proud of him for it too.
I can not stressed enough the importance of having a plan set for your kids to follow. You hope to never have to use it. But if something does happen do your kids know what to do? We started out simple with Bear. We made sure he knew his name. His full name. Then we taught him our “other names”. There are a lot of mommy’s and daddy’s in this world. It took a bit of the wonder away once he realized we were just regular people too. But I think it was worth the trade. The hardest part was talking about who it’s OK to get help from. We want to believe everyone will help a child in need, but that’s not always the case. So we taught Bear to always look for a police man or fireman first. After that look for someone who works at the place where you are lost. It help if you take the time to point these people out when you first enter a new place. After that the only other people he’s suppose to accept help from is a mom with kids.
I’ve seen a few really great ideas out there about tricks to help your kid if they get lost. Everything from tracking watches to temporary tattoos. Some seem like great investments. But all can be removed. At the end of the day the only thing your child will always have is their wits. If you teach them to be safe, no one can remove that from them.
1) Teach your child their full name, address and one phone number.
2) Teach your child YOUR first name
3) Talk about who it is OK to get help from. Focus on the good people to find.
Some other things to think about:
Do you have meeting place? If you are going on a trip to a big park, take the first day to talk about where you should meet if you get separated.
Are you their medical contact on their phone? I know a lot of kids have phones now. If they get hurt, you can set up their phone so ems can dial your number with out having to crack their code.
Have they learned basic self defense? Now Bear is to young to know how to take down an attacker. But in the next year or so we (meaning my husband) will be teaching him how to escape a hold. Nothing crazy, no Bruce Lee moves. Just get away and find help.
I’d love it if all we had to worry about as parents was what we feed our kids and how to make boo-boos go away. But sadly that’s not the reality. Bad things happen. Thankfully Bear and I got to go home and talk about it. Hopefully you never even have to have this happen to you. If anything I hope reading this will help to start a conversation with your child about how to stay safe.
That’s it for my late night rambling. Thanks for reading and make sure to snuggle you crazy kid 😀