One time, at band camp, I lost Drew during the Christmas tree cutting festivities. I tried to write about it the other day, but I got on a tangent about Fruity Pebbles and never made it back. Which is hard to believe because I am usually so focused and I never get distracted by anything like Boggle, Scrabble, shiny things, a mild breeze, an odd noise, the phone, a person, your blog, posable thumbs (cuz opposable are so yesterday), an inanimate object that I imagine is talking to me or anything like that at all.
Where was I? I started this about a half hour ago. For realliouis. Reallious should be a real word. For reallious. It is a good way to emphasize how real and serious one is about something. Unfortunately I can’t take credit for creating the word, but I have no problem stealing it and claiming it as my own.
Another half hour just went by. At this rate, it will take me six hours to do twelve paragraphs. Did I do that math right? I think I did. Do you ever have trouble adding eight plus five? I think trying to add 85 to 58 is nearly impossible without an abacus or two really big sacks of apples.
Okay back to the time I lost my boy in the wilderness.
Drew is four. Four and a half if you ask him. And he will also inform you that his golden birthday isn’t until he is old. Cuz twenty is old. And people need to know people’s golden birthday.
Drew, Will and I trudged up a lightly snowed upon mountain with about twenty other parents and kids in search of the perfect Christmas tree. As we got up higher, pickings were slim so we all began to fan out. The three of us spotted a great looking tree nestled between two big boulders. It was tall enough, full, and quite beautiful. On the side we saw it from. The other side was bare, flat, and nearly devoid of branches. Cut a tree in half from top to bottom and this was our tree. The thing is, the good side was awesome. So we cut it down. We yelled timber and did a happy dance. The lack of branches on half the tree made it really easy to put over my shoulder for the walk back to the cars.
We were probably five minutes from the cars, although we couldn’t see them yet, when we came to a hill with lots of rocks that looked extremely climbable. We played up there for awhile with a couple other kids and their moms before I told the boys I wanted to bring the tree back. Will was ready, but Drew wanted to play some more. One of the moms said I could leave Drew with them and they’d walk back together. I said cool and that I’d come back to meet up after I dropped off the tree and Will.
It took me five minutes to get down, five to load up the tree in the truck and then five to walk back to where Drew and the others were. I was almost there when I saw the mom that said to leave Drew. She was walking back with two other kids, but Drew wasn’t one of them. I said, “Where is Drew.”
She said, “He is with Katie. They left five minutes before us.”
I didn’t see them, but it is easy to stray off course and they could have gone by me. But Katie is six years old, so I was alarmed. I said, “With Katie? Alone?” The mom said yes and that they should be back by now. I had a majorly puzzled face and the mom realized I thought she meant Katie the six year old.
“No, no, no. Katie (so and so), the mom!” I breathed a sigh of relief and we actually had a good laugh. Although I didn’t know Katie the mom, I was sure they were back or making their way back.
Long story short, if it’s not too late and I don’t go off on Fruity Pebbles or discussing the best location for my future tattoo, if I finally do it (the back of the wrist, middle of forearm or by the elbow), I should say that 45 minutes went by and no Drew or Katie mom. There was no cell service. I was worried. I had made numerous little forays in five to ten radiuses of the cars calling out their names, as did the horrified mom that I originally left Drew with and a couple other people.
I was trying to stay calm. It was only 11am and I wasn’t thinking they were abducted or attacked by a mountain lion. I was sure they were just lost and that we would find them happily playing on rocks, examining elk poop or having a sword fight with sticks. But my heart was beating in a way I have never felt. My body was motored by adrenalin. I felt nothing around me and yet I felt everything.
We were just about to launch an all out organized well spread out search with all the adults when I flagged down a passing car heading deeper into the woods. They had seen a woman and a small boy all the way by the forest road entrance at the highway, over a mile away. It must have taken them the full 45 minutes to walk that far. I mean, they started five minutes from the cars. How, after even 20 minutes, the Katie mom thought they should keep walking down the forest road, I don’t know.
I jumped in my truck and discovered four-wheeling driving capabilities I didn’t know I had. Sure enough, just over a mile away at the highway, Katie mom and my little Drew were standing there talking to other xmas tree cutters. Drew was happy as can be. He never knew he was lost. As mad as I was at Katie mom for walking so far off course, I was happy she made Drew feel like they were on their own fun adventure. It wasn’t until they got back and all the other kids told Drew he was lost did he even know what really happened.
Like I said, they never were in any danger. But if you have kids; think of the feeling in the grocery store or Target when you turn around and your kids are gone. You find them ten seconds later in the next aisle, but you still have a mini heart attack. Make that ten seconds turn into 45 minutes, even if you know they are with a responsible (supposedly) adult, and it’s an unsettling feeling.
The Katie mom felt bad and of course I’m in charge of my own kids. So I thanked her for taking care of my boy and not scaring him. And I think back wondering if I can’t leave my kid with friends in a situation like that again or if it was a total fluke.
Ohhh, cupcakes! Somebody brought cupcakes to the office!!