Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Found a Tree, Lost a Kid

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!!


  1. Horrible, horrible feeling.

    It reminds me of the time when my own boy was . . .

    Cupcakes you say?

  2. Oh, I can totally understand. You must have been just frantic. And it's so hard, balancing between "oh, I'm sure he's okay" and "omigawd I'd better take this really seriously and find him this instant." Last week our not-quite-three-year-old ran away at the shopping mall. Normally you could see all the way down the open area, but it's Christmas and they have little kiosks everywhere, and this kid is FAST. Less risky than the deep woods, and he was only out of sight about two minutes, but oh, my. Hug 'em tight.

  3. @the jules: I was going to comment back tomorrow, but you totally made me laugh out loud. For reallious. Dude, they are minis and there are like six flavors. No, those aren't finger marks that are suspiciously my size in the icing!!!

    @blissed: Yes, the balance was crazy. I practically dove out the truck window to hug Drew when I found them.

  4. Yeah, that took a couple years off the back-end of your life.

    Not to worry, I think you can tell by looking into peoples eyes if they are capable of trusting your children with them or not.

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  6. My son was 15 and a good swimmer when he and his stepbrother decided to ---- Minie cupcakes, with frosting?

  7. An excellent description of the panic attack parents suffer when a kid turns up missing. I'm sure I've given my poor mother quite a few of 'em. I don't have kids (yet...but I do enjoy going off on tangents and discussing how many I will have, what their middle names will be, and their future careers), but your writing was incredibly vivid. I almost felt as if I did have a missing child on my hands, racing heart, strange pseudo-numbness and all.

    This seems to be a hilarious and yet quite truthful blog, so I think I'll stick around and see how things turn out. (Fruity Pebble crack! That made me smile, and that takes some doing. I was a junkie for the Cocoa variety myself.)

    P.S. I deleted my first post because it had typos. I hate typos. You have none. Me like.

  8. Oh! I would've given Katie a verbal beat-down for that. You don't veer from within eyeshot/earshot with someone else's kid. ESPECIALLY for that far or for that long. E.V.E.R.

    THAT'S how you end up on Nancy Grace. I watch enough of that show. I know.

  9. I'm sorry that happened to you because I know that feeling of when you even "misplace" a child the awful pit in your stomach that happens and that frightening flash before your eyes that you can't help of what you will do.
    That being said, you are a big fat stealer of that words and phrases! For realious and I don't care if you did get a fucking 70 on Boggle. You shut the fuck up!

  10. I love the fact that the post started up light-hearted and all over the place, became serious when you realised you were having a heart attack about Drew and then back to random with 'ooh cupcakes' - brilliant lol.

  11. I don't have kids. So I imagine the feeling is like when I wake up every morning to check if Lucy is still breathing and I'm so scared I'm holding my own breath.

    Cupcakes are one of my very favourite things and I actually prefer looking at them, the nice ones, like ones in recipe books all about cupcakes, to eating them, even though they really are totally delicious. I've never seen a cupcake store here but apparently celebrities are always frequenting them in the States. Are you near one? Which are your favourite kinds?

    The women in your office ROCK, and this one does especially for making cupcakes for everyone. Think of the happiness she caused! Yesterday we apparently had a gift exchange at work at our Christmas lunch out, and yours truly had nothing for anyone (and that's the second year in a row) because the whole thing escaped me and I had no idea we were doing it and it didn't even occur to me to get the 3 women I've worked with for a year each a gift. So give Cupcake Woman a raise. She deserves it.

  12. Katie mom is an idiot. Does she have kids? How would she have felt???

    I admire your restraint that you did NOT rip her a new asshole.

  13. Yeah yeah that would have sucked How come I am not on your blog roll How big are your feet anyway?

  14. I would have been crying, panicked, inconsolable after 45 minutes. I'm impressed with your outer calm.

    I remember once when my son was a baby, his father had given him a plastic cup to play with in an airport, and somehow he'd gotten the plastic tab-thingy on the cup top to come off and it was lodged at the top of his throat. We could see it, but he was turning red.

    First I tried to grab it with my fingers (I swear you do this sort of thing all the time with no trauma) but I couldn't get it out and I felt myself go light-headed.

    His dad tried to get it out and he couldn't either. I think I vaguely recall him calling for help. But then he got it out.

    But I nearly blacked out.

    I was covered in a cold sweat, my heart was pounded, and I almost blacked out. Horrible, horrible feeling.

    My god.

    Stupid kids. They need to stop choking and getting lost and stuff.

  15. @@eloh: I was so sure he was okay and yet the mounting feelings of panic, frustration, dread, worry, and all that fun stuff was beginning to consumer me. I was jogging through the woods, yelling louder and feeling a little freaked. But deep inside me, I willed myself to find him and know that he was totally okay. I wouldn't allow myself to think otherwise, despite those feelings trying to break through. It was a wild emotional thing I haven't experienced.

    @eva: What happened to, oh man, the icing is the best part!

    @postman: Welcome and thanks for the kind, well punctuated and spelled words. I may or may not be a bit crazy, so I hope you enjoy.

    @sweet britches: If I would have known her, I bet I would have found them sooner. I am good at thinking how my friends might think. For example, if I knew she was such an idiot, I would spread out the search from the get go. Much less if I would have known she is an idiot, I would have told the mom I know to make sure she was with him the whole time.

    @snow white: I don't recall snow white beinging so crass and kind of bitchy in the movie. Doesn't seem so disney-like to me right now. Maybe you mistyped because of your 'posable' thumbs.

    @toni: Thanks! That is how my mind works. It also might be a defense mechanism, but who asked you to anlayze me man! Back off! Have some cupcakes with me! :)

  16. @steph: You wrote more in my comments than you have in your blog lately! Nice pic too, btw. I just ate a carrot cake cupcake. There are cupcakes stores all over the place now. Happy Cakes is the closest one to my office and is the source of this latest box of goodness. Tis the season for ad sales reps to bombard us with goodies. Oh, and for the record, you don't have to get me a gift this year. :)

    @karen: She does have kids. That is why I wasn't too worried actually. She felt bad. I can't really yell at her for being stupid, can I? She was freaked enough already.

    @danielle: Laziness? Oversight? Lack of incentive? :)

    @mandy: The choking thing would freak me out too. This wasn't as scary as it may sound. One of the scariest moments was when my allergy infested Drew had an ear infection and the antibiotic we gave him for that made his body swell up, turn red and cover in hives. We thought his throat was going to swell up and close. We freaked. I think I hit the 9 and the 1 on the phone. Fricken benydryl did the trick and we have an epipen. We got him on another antibiotic and he was fine, but that was the scariest moment of my life so far. Damn kids!!!!

  17. Oh I remember the terror of those days. My baby is now 27 - so I can finally relax.

  18. Am I the only one still pondering the best location for the tatoo??

    My MIL brought over cupcakes on Sunday. Had so many sweets in the house I haven't touched them yet. But I'm feeling the urge to lick all the icing off and toss the cakes...

  19. WOW asked 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.

    FS says it's a judgment call that she thinks should be made on the basis of knowing, really knowing, the person you're leaving your kid with. And explicitly saying, "And don't pass my kid off to anyone else, even if you think it would be ok with me. Period." FS has found that being firm like that is a good thing.

  20. Stories about kids getting lost make me need to drink wine. Glad everyone made it home okay!


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