The 40 Year Old Bat Mitzvah

soulfish: Lost & Found

Posted in soulfish by Juliet on April 27, 2010

“Put the zoo on lockdown!”

Jane was lost for a scary ten minutes during a multi-family trip to the zoo. It turned out she hadn’t moved on from the polar bears to the elephants with the rest of us, but we didn’t know that at the time.

Was Jane the one who was lost? Or were the eight of us?

Time freezes. It stands still. All you can do is hope that your child knows what she should do to stay safe and be found soon.

“I remembered what you told me, Mom,” she said after we were reunited. “I couldn’t find a mom with kids to help me, so I found a mom without kids.” (Call me crazy, but we do practice drills of this in Ralph’s.)

Every kid gets lost sometime. Will your child know what she should do?  Kids should know:

  • Don’t wait to be approached by someone offering help.  Take action and ask for help.  (The odds are very slim that it will be a dangerous person whom your child seeks out for help.  The same goes for you, too, by the way.)
  • Teach your kids to ask for help from a mom with kids.  I do drills with my girls:  “You look around and can’t find me.  Who is a good person to ask for help?”  Personally, I have chosen to teach my kids that if they are lost in a store, they can go to the cash register and ask for help from a worker.  In general, though, kids can have trouble distinguishing uniforms, employees, etc., so I like the “find a mom with kids” guideline better.
  • Stay where you are.  Remember, I’ll be looking for you too.

A few other tips:

  • Make a mental note of what your child is wearing.
  • A friend writes her cell phone number in Sharpie on her kids’ forearms.
  • Ask for help.  Many public venues like amusement parks have official procedures for reuniting lost kids with parents and keeping them safe.  I did temporarily put the zoo on lockdown just by approaching a nearby churro vendor.  He called the front gate and I gave them Jane’s description so nobody would be able to leave with her.  I knew it wasn’t happening but it still made me feel better.
  • Read Gavin de Becker’s books The Gift of Fear and Protecting the Gift.

Stay safe.

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