Wednesday, June 29, 2011

It was inevitable...

I've joked since Bennett started walking that that boy would walk a mile on his own without looking back to see if I was anywhere in sight. I've always been just slightly envious of the moms with kiddos who stay glued to their leg and wouldn't even let go if there was a piece of candy laying 2 feet from them. Ok, that's not really true. I love having brave boys who will go anywhere and try anything, but it sure would make parenting a lot more...relaxing. Not having to chase a child down or keep your eyes glued on them whenever you're in an area that's not fenced in!

So yesterday, Bethany and I, and the 4 kiddos went to the zoo on a gorgeous 75 degree day. And so did a whole lot of other people. It was packed. There's a petting zoo area with a HUGE playground in the middle that's kind of walled in and maze-like (ie: zero visibility). I was with Dawson showing him how to feed the goats with the food other kids dropped (yes, I'm that cheap. Why spend $.50 when its all over the ground? :) and he was cracking up and loving it. I seriously wasn't even keeping my eye on Bennett. I just assumed he was on the playground. So after about 20 minutes had passed without having seen Bennett, I mentioned it to Bethany. So we both were casually looking for him. After about 5 minutes of casually looking, we really started to search. He was nowhere to be found. I even left the petting zoo and wandered through part of the zoo but couldn't imagine where he would be. I finally alerted a staff member and they sent out the call on the walkie talkies. I wasn't that worried until a good 10 minutes went by with all the zoo staff looking for him. We ran into a couple friends of ours who were all looking for him too. By then I erupted into tears when staff kept asking me what he looked like and what he was wearing and hearing their walkie's signaling no one had found him. My mind didn't really go the whole kidnapping route (well, it did, but I pushed it away quick). I just knew he'd wandered off somewhere. But still, it was scary nonetheless. So about 15 minutes after the staff started searching they found him...playing in the gift shop. If you've been to the Des Moines zoo, you'll know how far away that is from the petting zoo. And if you haven't...well...its pretty far.

When they brought him back he said, "I forgot you were in the petting zoo!" and when I told him he should not have left without me, he slapped his forehead and said, "What was I thinking?". The good thing- we all survived although I was definitely shaken up. The bad thing- Bennett wasn't scared at all. I realized we've been to that zoo so many times and he's so familiar with it, it just wasn't a big deal for him to wander away and find the gift shop.

I remember a mom a little older than me who asked a strange man at the mall to grab her son and pretend to take him when he wandered off again. Just for a minute or two to scare him. A lot of people thought that was a little extreme. I'm starting to think that's not such a bad idea!!

I can't even imagine now how my mom felt when she lost Bethany at the beach when she was 2 or 3. The beach! No staff members everywhere with walkie talkies...and the ocean on one side. reason I should be glad we don't live by the ocean. (Ok, the only reason).


  1. Scary! And you're right...that is a LONG way to sneak off to! I completely agree about sometimes wishing my kids were 'clingy' and didn't want to leave my side. But it's fun having curious kids too and I bet Bennett will one day be a world famous explorer. :)

  2. I held my breath until I read he was found in the gift shop. That is so scary! Ethan is a wanderer too. With you one second, gone the next. I warn every potential caregiver of his ability to disappear. I love his adventurous side, but seriously!

  3. That same thing happened to my family at Sea World when our son was seven. Just playing on the water/playground feature and boom! He's nowhere in sight...found him in the arcade watching the 'big' kids play games not even aware he was 'lost'!! I was terrified! After that I read an article in which a mom said she takes a picture of her kids at the beginning of any visit to a theme park, zoo, mall, whatever. I always thought it was a great idea because one may forget what their child is wearing while panicking that they can't find them. And the bit about losing your sister at the beach reminded me of a beach day I had a few years back where I found a toddler and took her to the lifeguards and they found her family and as I watch them give her back, none of them flinched or even acted like it was a big deal!! I was totally amazed...I would have been inconsolable! Anyway, sorry this got wordy. Just glad to see your little guy was safe!! :)

  4. P.S. If the pic you posted is from that day, I find it very funny that his shirt reads "TOUGH'!! :D

  5. I don't think that lady's method of asking a man to snatch her son was extreme...HOW ELSE DO YOU TEACH A CHILD?!! I mean you can only remind them and tell them till you are blue in the face about wandering...
    I'm all for that lady's method!

    Glad nothing bad happened though!

  6. Have - that same thing happened to us a couple weeks ago when Evan wandered into the gift shop at Como Park in MN (we were in the same building and lost him for only a good 5 minutes, but it was so packed with people) is scary explaining to the staff what your child looks like, that's when your mind can go nuts! That was a long way to the gift shop for Bennett, so glad he was found!


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