Saturday, January 3, 2009

What NOT to do

It seemed like a great idea at the time. We would go to the Minnesota Zoo (where we have a membership but we have only gone 3 times since July) and meet up with our friends there.

I made our lunches, being a responsible mom, but cut the sandwiches into dinosaurs (because I can also be a wild and crazy mom) I threw in some carrots, (the super sweet baby carrots) because the kids will eat the whole bag at home and ask for more. I should have known that they'd reject the carrots out in public because it's just natural to make me look like a moron for packing such a thing as carrots.

We woke up...I almost had to wake M up, which never happens unless we have to be somewhere, otherwise she's up before she needs to be and whiny for the rest of the day because she's tired. The kids were excited to go to the zoo, but probably more excited to see their friends.

We put our coats in a locker then set out on the tropical trail. There are several indoor exhibits at the Minnesota zoo that are really essential to keep the zoo inhabited in the winter time, although I'd guess most of the people there today were members.

My friend and I were amazed at the length of time our kids spent at the first few animal exhibits. Generally the kids are running ahead and we're yelling for them to stop. Well, the amazement was short-lived as the kids started running ahead. I tried to not be the shrill mom screaming for her kids to stop, but I probably wasn't successful.

After the tropical trail we decided to eat lunch. My kids ate their dinosaur sandwiches and turned their noses up at the carrots. I, incidentally, ate all of my sandwich, my carrots, AND my two Campari tomatoes that I brought for myself. So, go me!

D nursed while our friends made a bathroom run, then for a little bit when they returned. That pretty much sums up the maintenance of D for the entire trip. She didn't even require a diaper change. Please God, make her continue to be so low-maintenance!

After lunch we went to a discovery play zone where the kids all played for a good while, then we hit the shark and dolphin area. The kids quickly dispersed. It was like they'd had a plan: 2 moms, 6 kids (5 mobile) break!

It was probably my fault for not telling the kids to stick together, but they were so gone! For a while I had no idea where M was, then no idea where K was, then both were gone, then found K, then M, ugh it was exhausting. (D just rode happily in the sling. Not a peep from her. Please God, make her continue to be so low-maintenance!)

When we finally found all of our kids (my friend had equal difficulties) we decided to head to the Minnesota trail. This series of exhibits is inside, but outside. It's covered, but still cold. So we needed to get our coats out of our lockers. I got the key out of my back pocket and opened the locker. First out was D's bunting, which I decided to not put on her at that point. She was riding in the sling and cozy so I decided to just put my coat over both of us and put a blanket over her as well. I handed M her coat and turned to hand K his.

Where's K?

I wasn't immediately concerned because I figured he'd be around the corner. Nope. Not there. My friend started to go one way to look for him while I stayed with the rest of the kids. (We joked when we got there that with the 6 kids between us we'd get asked if we were a daycare.) Unsuccessful, she returned and I went in search. I saw a man in a zoo uniform at an information booth and told him I'd lost my son. He smiled at me and said he'd hold my baby for me. Huh?

Getting no help from the man who I'm hoping was just hard of hearing, I continued searching the crowd. I was taking deep breaths and fluctuating between being irate and devastated. I didn't know what to do. Should I have been screaming his name? Should I just continue to look quietly?

My mind started to wander to the possibility that I would not see my beautiful, happy, vibrant, irritating, handsome, annoying, smart, curious, friendly, loving boy again. I was barely holding back the panicked tears when my friend motioned to me.

They said he's at the Service Desk.

Oh God! Please let him be there! I fast-walked there and at first did not see him. Then one of the women working there moved and I caught sight of my boy sitting at the end of the very long desk. He was smiling and coloring. No worse for wear.

I asked him what happened and he was stuck on the fact that he got to color with a bunch of women around. Lord, I'm in trouble.

I feel proud that I didn't kill him for wandering away from us. I feel irritated that he didn't really learn a thing since he ran ahead of us throughout the Minnesota exhibit.

My friend tells me that M started crying while we were looking for K, so yet more proof that those two love the hell out of each other and that's why they fight so fiercely. Once K was returned to us, M held his hand firmly for about the first 5 minutes, which really was a long time for a little brother to endure such dictatorship.

I'm not sure how to prevent these boisterous, friendly, beautiful, trusting children from running away from their safety zone. We've had talks about bad people (which actually are not that common) but it doesn't seem to faze them. They are wearing rose-colored glasses and I'm not sure that I should take those glasses off.

How do you keep your kids safe?

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Sandy said...

I'll say it again -- you were the picture of cool my friend.

I have had this happen (well, once it happened at the Dolphin exhibit yesterday) and I am nearly in freak out mode in 30 seconds flat.

You did the right thing and handled yourself well, especially after finding the little guy.

I joked with Kurt that next time we must go on a Monday morning, early, when the place is empty and the kids can run around.

ewe are here said...

Ugh. We were at the zoo in Edinburgh over the holidays, and their ability to just run off ahead, in different directions, drove me bonkers...

chelle said...

I was so scared that I would lose Becca in California that the fear I had was extended to her. She sticks to me like glue (sometimes it is actually annoying, I want her to venture ahead and explore!) Ethan on the other hand, he will be a force to fear when he gets faster.

It is so hard to balance the fear with the safety.

angi said...

This was hard to read even...((hugs)) to you for such a crazy day!

Hip Mom's Guide said...

Heather, I'm so sorry - and so glad it turned out well. I think almost every mom has felt that fear at least once in her life. Those kids move fast, don't they?! It sounds like you handled it well. Thank goodness for nice security guards and coloring books.

Awesome Mom said...

Ugh I am glad that you found him. Maybe you need leashes for them so that they can't run away. lol!

anymommy said...

I don't think you can completely. This is one of the scariest moments a mom can have I think. When to push the panic button and get the whole world involved? What if you wait to long? What if he's just hiding behind the trash can? You were very calm!

louann said...

Sounds like a hectic, crazy and tiring day! I don't know how I would have handled that. whenever we're out, I make it a point to never let go of the boys and I always try to teach them why it is dangerous to get lost -- of course it doesn't work all the time!

Kate said...

Oh man, that is scary. I've had actual nightmares of losing my kids. There's nothing worse than the pit in your stomach you get when you've momentarily lost your sight on one of your kids.

Damselfly said...

Gah! Something like this would really freak me out. I'm sooo glad K was safe. Coloring with women! LOL! I have a hard time getting Fly to stay close to me when we are in public.

Sounds like a fun day at the zoo, other than that heart attack!

Guinevere Meadow said...

How terrifying!! 6 kids to 2 parents is an uncomfortable ratio!

 
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