There is no worse feeling in the world than that which overtakes you when you lose track, even temporarily, of one of your children. I didn’t really understand my mother’s near hysterical reaction the year I was in kindergarten and I took my younger brother, Tom, to school with me one afternoon so that he could play on the swings in the yard. She didn’t notice him leaving the house with me and it never once occurred to me that I should mention my idea to her before setting out. It seemed like such a good idea…at least until we got home.
Once I had children of my own I had opportunity to discover first-hand what that reaction was all about. We always wanted our children to grow into strong, independent adults with a keen sense of adventure and a desire to see what might lie around the next corner. We just didn’t anticipate that the seeds of those very qualities would begin bearing fruit at such an early age. Daniel was not quite three years old when I left him playing in the sandbox in our yard while I brought his baby brother into the house to place him in his crib for a nap. We lived on a farm and the house was set quite a distance from the road so I thought him safe enough for the few minutes I would be gone. I was wrong. When I returned his trucks lay abandoned in the sand and there was no sign of him.
“He’s at the barn next door,” she explained. “He was looking for his Dad.”
“What are you doing?” he demanded, his voice trembling with a mixture of frustration and relief. “Why didn’t you answer me when I called?”
Daniel crawled out, his tentative smile filled with childish innocence. “I was playing hide and seek,” he explained.
He’d managed to stay hidden the entire time that Bev searched and who knows how long it would have taken to find him if he hadn’t given himself away in the end. To be fair, no one had ever told him that you can’t play hide and seek unless everyone actually knows you are playing. No doubt he didn’t really understand what all the fuss was about. At least no harm was done. Daniel grew up into the strong and independent adult we hoped he would become and we….we managed to survive the journey.