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. Man...one reason I should be glad we don't live by the ocean. (Ok, the only reason).