When our son was young we spent many summers in rented houses on the beach. (See Skinny Dipping and The Great Hampton Babysitter Heist)
One summer when he was three or four we were on a Hamptons beach when the kid went missing, We may have thought the other one had eyes on him, or maybe we were just horribly irresponsible parents, but in any case at one point we realized he was gone!
We were confident we’d taught him never to go in the water without us – we weren’t THAT irresponsible, but where was he! Frantically we told the lifeguard we had a lost child and were asked for a description.
“A boy, brown hair, blue eyes, a yellow bathing suit, and a white sunhat – or maybe he’s not wearing his hat – and maybe he’s carrying his pail and shovel.” I answered, my panic growing by the minute. And then we both went running down the beach in opposite directions calling his name.
Soon the lifeguard came hurrying toward me. “A lifeguard down the beach has a lost boy but he doesn’t seem to fit your son’s description. He has blond hair and a red bathing suit. Could he be yours?”
Desperately trying to convince myself this was my child, and that I’d simply forgotten what he looked like and what he was wearing, I almost told the lifeguard, “I’m not sure, but we’ll take him.”
Thankfully my husband found him happily playing with his pail and shovel in the dunes. What an irresponsible kid!
Dana Susan Lehrman
This retired librarian loves big city bustle and cozy country weekends, friends and family, good books and theatre, movies and jazz, travel, tennis, Yankee baseball, and writing about life as she sees it on her blog World Thru Brown Eyes!
That is a very funny reaction to the stress of the moment!
Yes funny indeed Dave,
But in addition to the fear that something awful had happened, I must have felt horribly guilty thinking it was due to my negligence!
Happy is as happy does. The lure of the sand for a child with a bucket and shovel is just too much. All’s well that ends well.
Yes indeed Betsy!
Having lost my youngest in the crowded markets of Jerusalem (also thankfully ended well), I can relate to your panic. There were 6 adults watching 3 kids, but somehow we lost her.
Yep Laurie, it happens to the best of us, thankfully it usually ends well!
Losing a child is a panic moment indeed–and now you can tell the story with humor and a happy ending. Your story did make me smile. Once I tipped over a fan at night and hid under the covers so that when my parents came to see what happened they couldn’t find me. When they finally did, they were angry and relieved all at once, with the latter winning out fortunately..
Yes Khati, I know that angry but relieved feeling.
I feel like your lost child experience was not as traumatic as mine, although maybe it’s just because you tell it with humor now. My terror lasted for hours, and even after she was found, I continued to be terrified by all the bad things that could have happened. The night I wrote the story – many years later – I couldn’t sleep, feeling traumatized all over again!
Yes Suzy, your child was gone so much longer and your experience so much scarier! But altho I wrote my story with humor, at the time it was terrifying!