So, we had our first lost child scenario this weekend and I think my heart has now settled back down into a normal beat pattern.
Event: Children's birthday party
Venue: a huge college hall with stairs leading off to many (many) rooms)
Number of missing children: 1
State of parents: frantic
State of child when found: non-plussed
It's every parents worst nightmare, the moment you realise that your child suddenly goes missing in an unusual and unfamiliar place. It begins with a nervous laugh, then a little amble towards where you last saw them - not there. Suddenly you feel like your head has been clamped between a vice as the pressure rushes to your head and every hair on your body starts to prickle. Your mind and vision become like that of Robocop, honing in on doors, windows, open staircases with a blaring red light flashing on the screen. Whilst your mind is heavy with fear, your body itself feels light as you run with the speed of a leopard dashing to and fro, from room to room and up and down multiple flights of stairs two maybe three at a time. It also seems like you have instantly become visually impaired and lose the inability to really see what you are looking at or into because your brain is moving so fast that you just aren't taking anything in. Very soon, your legs get heavy and you just become glued to the spot and you just stop dead, feeling completely helpless, every breath you take is laboured and there's a loud buzz in your head like static on a TV.
Believe it or not, this all happened in the space of 3 minutes at the end of which Beau was found happily tapping away on a computer in some class room. It wasn't long at all between him going missing and being found, but in that short amount of time my emotions had run a marathon and my body ached from the shock.
Of course, it wasn't just me that experienced this, Rick was me and normally he is quite good under pressure, but I have to say it's probably the first time that I looked into his eyes saw real fear.
Neither of us were to blame, it was, as most people do say, a nano-second. We were talking to someone, both of us looked at Beau and he was standing at the door with his drink, then we looked at our friend and then back to Beau and he was gone. Fortunately, as it was a children's birthday party, there were a lot of parents present, so they appreciated our distress and many of them joined us on the hunt for Beau whilst at the same time reassuring his flapping parents that he would be found.
These things just heighten the sense of responsibility that you have for that little persons life, their safety is in your hands and whilst you do everything you think you can to protect them, it literally takes the blink of an eye or a misplaced decision for things to happen.
I think maybe you get this kind of misguided confidence as a parent because you enter into a situation many times and it means you become less alert and maybe a little lackadaisical and take for granted that you and your children will be fine, and then BOOM something like this happens to knock you off your parental pedestal.
But at the same time, I think that you also have to know that even though it has happened it does by no means make you a bad or irresponsible parent. So from this experience, my heart goes out to people like the parents of Madeline McCann, who I believe are very good parents and were in a situation that they believed they had under control, and were victims of terribly unfortunate circumstances.
Fortunately, we were lucky and there was a happy ending, and in a black comical way, it's one to strike off on the list of "what to expect when you become a parent" along with....
Jumping out into the road
Lodging of peas up nose
Falling off climbing frame or bike
Swallowing of sharp, big, foreign objects
Fiddling with electrical equipment
Need I go on!!