On Friday afternoons, I like to hang out with a homeschooler’s group at a local park, and it’s really something for me rather than for my children, since all the other children in the group are considerably older than Neil and Kelly and rarely play with them. The other parents, though, are experienced, and always have good advice for me, though they’re always careful to give it to be as advice, not instruction.
Their take on my frustrations with Kelly’s school was that she’s awfully young for kindergarten anyway. And yet, even as unfocused as she can be, and that she’s the youngest student in the class, she is one of the more capable students there.
Kelly was playing in a playground in front of us, and I put my head down to come up with questions for Neil’s test on the Roman Republic on Monday. When I looked up, Kelly had completely disappeared. I got up to look for her, and saw her on neither playground. I had to go up a rise behind the playground to notice she had wandered all the way down to the nearby lake. She was standing on a floating pier (used to tether paddleboats during the summer), on the choppy water.
I ran down to get her off it, and told her she had to let me know if she left the playgrounds. But I am the world’s worst mother for not having kept a better eye on her.
If it makes you feel any better, I had a similar moment a few weeks ago when I ‘lost’ Mary in the DI thrift store for a couple of heart stopping moments. Hopefully it will never happen again but if it does I suggested she SCREAM my name when she can’t see me instead of quieting crying and letting someone lead her away to the customer service desk.
It is heart-stopping to realize that your child was “right there” a moment ago and no there’s no sign of him or her.
Then there’s the combined relief at find them safe and sound and the (misplaced) anger at them for making you nearly have a heart attack because they had innocently gone wandering.
Fortunately, Brad and I enjoy many of the same things, so it’s pretty easy to stick together. What really helps is a store having someplace for kids to sit within visual range while a parent browses a given aisle, like a bookstore. Brad didn’t mind my taking my time in a used bookstore recently when there was a place for him to sit while I did so.
More places should have a system like Chuck E. Cheese, where both parent/guardian and child are handstamped on entry and can’t get out without both stamps matching. Simple and effective, but don’t know how cheap. Now if only the food were better and the noise level were less at that eating establishment, it would get my business much more often.