Traveling with children is such an experience of fun, excitement and heartburn. The squabbles, the impatience (when are we going to get there? a gazillion times), the bathroom breaks. But nothing beats the “lost” stories. I think almost everyone has them. Thank goodness most of the time they end up just being a funny story and not a tragedy. I don’t know what got me thinking about lost children, but between my DH and myself, we have a couple.
DH shared a funny story about how he had been on a road trip with his family, and they stopped at the Texas State Information Center. Everyone went in. Not everyone came out. When they got back in the car and on the freeway, my mother-in-law asked everyone to count off. They counted to three (there were four children), and my MIL said, “Very funny, now everybody let me know you’re here.”
I think it was my sister-in-law who said in a panicked voice, “Mom, Mike’s not here!”
To make matters worse, it was many miles before there was a turn around. When they finally got back, the employees had him sitting on the counter, madly sucking on lifesavers, while he stifled his tears, poor little guy.
We lost Buzzard on a Caribbean Island when he was 7. We left the dinner restaurant with everyone in tow, or so we thought, and went to the gift shop. Buzzard, thought we’d walked out to the beach. Once in the gift shop we realized he was gone. I thought I was going to die of a heart attack on the spot. DH finally found him at our room door pounding on it for all he was worth shouting, “Let me in! Let me IN!” and crying hysterically.
The panic of lost children never really goes away no matter what their age. This summer I took the twins to Atlantis with a friend and her 4 children. Atlantis has a very long lazy river that takes about 40 minutes to complete one circuit. There are several entry points all the way around. One day my friend and I had split up, she with her 4 kids, and me with Roo and Buzzard, agreeing that we would meet up at the lazy river.
Once Roo, Buzzard and I arrived at the lazy river, we grabbed tubes and went around. The second time around, Roo and I decided to enter a slide from the river, but Buzzard continued on the River. When we finished with the slide, being dumped back into the lazy river, we thought we’d find him. This is not sound logic. You cannot find a moving target while you yourself are moving. We went around twice, then I planted myself in a shallow spot and sent Roo to the room to see if Buzzard was there. He wasn’t.
When he came back, he jumped back into the lazy river while I sat there and watched people go by. After about 15 minutes, I heard my name being called as though from far away. I turned and see my friend with all of her kids looking at me.
“What’s the matter?” She asks as she hands me a huge Bahama Mama.
“I lost Adam,” I say, as I take a big gulp of the drink. “I know it’s silly–he’s 15. But it’s freaking me out a little.”
Her three older kids jump in. “We’ll find him!”
Eventually they all come floating around, which is really the only way to find anyone in that river. Sit there and wait for them to float by, then shout their name so they see you.
This seemed to be a common theme throughout our stay. There was a grandmother on one of the shuttle’s chewing out her granddaughters for missing their dolphin swim and sending their mother into a panic with their disappearance because they were, on the lazy river. There were always parents just sitting watching kids go by so they could pluck them from the water.
On the last day, a man approached the lady working at the towel hut.
“I’ve lost my girls!” He says, panicked. “I haven’t seen them in three hours!” He says, his voice getting louder.
The towel hut lady wasn’t fazed in the slightest. “Where did you last see them?” She asks, in a calm, low voice.
“The LAZY RIVER!!!” he shouts, positively apoplectic.
“They’ll turn up. They always do,” she says completely unperturbed.
I left there thinking that the lazy river sucked kids in throughout the day, and spit them back out at the end. DH thinks the guy that comes up with GPS bracelets where you can check a board and see where they are will make a small fortune. Until then, I guess we’ll just have to have a few more Bahama Mama’s.