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Have You Ever Lost Your Child?


mathmarm
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My sister has been a complete and total mess since Sunday afternoon. She and my 4yo neice were out and about after church and some kind of way, my sister lost her daughter. For about an hour. In the mall. The police were called, a dog was a brought. It was a nerve-wrecking, heart-wrenching mess.

 

I can only imagine the kind of heartache and grief that my sister was in but the girl was found and she was okay. (Scared, but perfectly okay.) They feared that she may have been taken from the store by some one, but it turned out that she hadn't. She had gotten into the employee only area, gotten scared and hid.

 

My sister, the girls mother, has been having a really hard time of it and is just really beating herself up about this. We went over their Sunday evening and since then she and I have been on the phone and she just keeps saying what a horrible mother she is, she can't believe she was that stupid/careless/absent-minded and oh my God what if it were a pervert who'd found her child? Or a kidnapper, or, or, or...

 

I mean, what do I say to her? She is torn between relief that her girl is safe and grief that her girl was ever at risk...

 

Wisdom, anyone?

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It happens.  It's scary and awful and nobody ever wants it to happen, but it does.

 

My mom lost me in a supermarket once.  It was only 15 minutes or so, but it happened.

 

I once thought I left my dd in the grocery cart when I pulled away from the store.  I didn't, but my brain clearly didn't remember putting her in the car, so I easily could have left her there, I suppose.  It didn't happen, but it could have.

 

4yos are tricky.

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1) Remind her that most people would never hurt a child.

2) This is a great opportunity for her to teach her child some safety strategies (like Freeze and Yell when separated from a parent).

3) Almost everyone has an awful-parent moment at some point. Fortunately, most of the time, things turn out fine and we have learned from the experience.

 

 

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From the Wikipedia page on stranger danger:

 

Constantly warning children of possible danger in the form of strangers has also been criticised as exaggerating the potential threat and unnecessarily spreading mistrust, especially when considering that (for example) in the US, about 800,000 children are reported at least temporarily missing every year, yet only 115 "become victims of what is viewed as classic stranger abductions".[10] In situations where the child is in danger for other reasons, avoiding strangers (who might help) could in fact be dangerous itself, such as in the case of an 11-year-old Boy Scout who avoided rescue searchers because he feared they might want to 'steal him'.[10]

 

 

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Dh lost our dd at home when she was about 3-4. Our property is bordered by a river. Only dh, our boys and dd was home. They looked and called and unearthed the house. They went to the river and called the police, who brought dogs. about 1/2 hour after the police got there, dd toddles out of the house. She had burrowed under blankets, under a cushion, behind a chair and fallen asleep. Dh had even MOVED the blankets and still didn't see her. ds was so relived he cried. Dh was about in tears himself. Police were about in tears too. Because the next step was to drag the river :crying: !!

 

Kids get lost. The great news is that kids get found!!! 

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My daughter has FELT lost a few times, where she has been playing and suddenly looked up and I wasn't right there.  I had her in my view.  I haven't actually lost her for more than a minute yet.  (Knock on wood.  It could sure happen easily!)

 

One thing we've done is to tell her exactly what to do if she is lost - she is to stay right there and yell for me.  We've role-played it.  The times she has felt lost I've stood and watched her do the right thing, and that encouraged me.  Feeling those few seconds of fear has seemed to help her pay attention. 

 

Also, her martial arts school requires all the little kids to learn their parent's names and phone numbers.  We've added it to the memory work cycle.

 

Raising kids is scary.  Hugs for your sister!  Maybe some teaching and role playing with her kiddo would help them both feel better!

 

 

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yup. My son, my friends son and her foster son ages 4, 6, and 4 were lost for about 1 hour in our neighborhood. The place is heavily wooded. Thankfully, they turned west instead of east and hit the road. Otherwise, we'd have had to have search and rescue out there. Hundreds of acres of wooded/pasture empty land.

 

I was getting ready to call the sheriff when a neighbor from 1.5 miles up the road called.

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Yes,  more than one child too.  It happens and it's an awful feeling.   We once left our 11-12yr old at the Mcdonalds when we were on a road trip.  I realized as soon as we got on the highway, and that drive to the next exit and back was probably the longest of my life.  I was pregnant at the time...so very emotional.  It was a terrible feeling.  

 

Left a preschooler at church once.  We came in separate cars because dh came early for music ministry duty.  he thought I took her home and I thought he had her.  She was hiding in the bushes.  Fortunately we only lived about 10min from church.   She thinks it's funny now (nearly 20yrs later).

 

Lost one son (about 3 at the time) in the neighborhood and had all the neighbors out calling for him.  He was hiding in the closet...don't remember why.  We *almost* called the police though.

 

The worst was when we lost our 2 sons in the woods on a hike. The boys were probably 10 and 13.   It was very remote wilderness area.  We always have a rule that the older kids can go ahead on the trail, but they have to be able to see us.  Of course, they didn't listen (I think they were racing or something)... We lost them for nearly 2hrs.  We kept going further in  - calling and yelling, asking the very few people who were walking past...no one saw them.  It was getting dark too.  The moment we had to turn around and go back out of the woods was probably the worst moment of my life.  I still cry when I think about that moment when I had to admit they were lost, and we needed to get off the mountain and get help.   I was leaving my babies in the woods and night was coming.       We were back at the van, my dh was gathering equipment to sleep by the trail and I was packing the other kids in the car to go to the ranger station when they walked out of the woods with a "where have you guys been?" look on their face.  O my God, was I so relieved.   I couldn't sleep that night.    They were waiting for us at a crossroads playing cards, but we hadn't quite gotten that far.  Thank goodness they realized it was getting dark and followed the trail back out. 

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When oldest was 4 and his sister was 1, we attended a very crowded event at the zoo. We got separated when we were trying to leave. It was dark and I had the stroller with his sister. It was terrifying. I found a police officer pretty quickly. It wasn't an hour--probably 15 minutes. Ds and I were both very upset. 

 

When dd was 2, she knew she could do everything on her own and I was ridiculously impeding her. On July 4, we were trying to get ready to attend a friend's picnic. I was loading the car and going in and out of the house. Our screen door had a damper that really slowed its closing. She just wondered out and wondered away. I think we knew she was gone very quickly. I called neighbors, I called the police. One of our neighbors had friends over who did not know us, but the man got the description of dd and took off in one direction and other people went other ways. The man came upon a woman who had dd and was going house to house knocking on doors. He told the woman that was the girl he was looking for and took her. I ran into the man a year later and he told me I needed to enroll dd in his soccer camps (he was a former Italian pro who had a business running soccer camps)--he thought he can channel all her energy into soccer. Anyway, the incident terrified me, but not dd. There are lots of things I allowed her brother to do throughout his elementary aged years that I didn't allow her to do because she just had a tendency to wander off. 

 

My youngest has down syndrome. I took him and dd to a very large water park when he was 7 or 8. He always walked right behind us and always stayed with us. I'd never had to question that. I knew many families that had gotten gps devices for their child and had special alarms on doors at home. Not my ds. Except this is when I learned he didn't actually walk with us. He walked in a straight line, not paying attention the people (mom or dad) he was with. Until then we thought he paid attention. We entered the park, started down the main avenue then dd and I turned toward and attraction we wanted to do first. When I realized he didn't make the turn, he was gone in the crowd. We alerted park staff. Once they located him and I saw where was I realized he had followed as straight a path he could to that location. ds was upset, dd was upset, and I was upset. We recovered. We did have fun. I saw a family with three boys who had autism--all wearing GPS devices. We were on the same ride. They told me all about how the gps ankle devices worked. 

 

So, at some point I have lost each of my kids, but we survived and I learned something about each child from each incident. What I learned from the first didn't apply to the second and neither the first or second applied to the third. 

 

It's OK. Things happen. You learn how to handle similar situations and move forward. I hope this does not prevent your sister from doing things. She should use it to help her better handle similar situations. 

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Our organist and his wife accidentally left their newborn in the church nursery. They got home and realized that they only had one kid with them. I think sleep deprivation played a role.

 

My brother was missing when he was about 5. My parents and siblings were out combing the neighborhood. I stayed home in case he came home. I found him sound asleep under my parents bed. His face was tear-stained and he was clutching a bottle of shampoo. He didn't want to get his hair washed, so he hid.

 

I hope your sister feels better soon. Judging from the responses, it's a common experience.

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It has happened to me very briefly at least a couple times.  One time in JCPenney one daughter (2 or 3yo) decided to walk out of the area she was told to stay in.  (I was shopping nearby, and because my kids were normally very good about following directions, I didn't have my eye on them every second.)  I knew she could not have gotten far, and I had no fear of abduction.  I just called her name a few times and then I heard an announcement over the loudspeaker.  She was scared but safe in the shoe department.  :)  We talked about what to do if they ever felt lost.  The only thing scary about it was thinking, what if they'd called the police or otherwise reported me as neglectful.

 

The nice thing is that all the store employees are trained in what to do when this happens (and I'm sure it happens often!).  So I know the child is safe.  I don't worry about kidnapping because it is so rare.  It's much more likely that my kid would do something foolish and bust open her head or something.  ;)  (Yes, this has happened.)

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The worst was when we lost our 2 sons in the woods on a hike. The boys were probably 10 and 13.   It was very remote wilderness area.  We always have a rule that the older kids can go ahead on the trail, but they have to be able to see us.  Of course, they didn't listen (I think they were racing or something)... We lost them for nearly 2hrs.  We kept going further in  - calling and yelling, asking the very few people who were walking past...no one saw them.  It was getting dark too.  The moment we had to turn around and go back out of the woods was probably the worst moment of my life.  I still cry when I think about that moment when I had to admit they were lost, and we needed to get off the mountain and get help.   I was leaving my babies in the woods and night was coming.       We were back at the van, my dh was gathering equipment to sleep by the trail and I was packing the other kids in the car to go to the ranger station when they walked out of the woods with a "where have you guys been?" look on their face.  O my God, was I so relieved.   I couldn't sleep that night.    They were waiting for us at a crossroads playing cards, but we hadn't quite gotten that far.  Thank goodness they realized it was getting dark and followed the trail back out. 

That would have done me in. 

 

All growing up I had to hear the story told many times about the time I disappeared in a department store for over an hour.  The police were called, the store was locked down.... and I was hiding in one of those circular racks.  I was about 3 or 4.

 

The worst thing I've done was to forget my newborn in the car.  That was a sinking feeling.  He was probably there for about 10 minutes, but it was summer, in Florida.  Thank God he was totally fine.  We were moving into a new house, and I got out of the car to direct the moving truck into the driveway, then got caught up opening the house.  I beat myself up for awhile about that one. I always have deep sympathy for parents who forget their kids in cars (almost always because they're out of their usual routine).  But by the grace of God I go.

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I mean, what do I say to her? She is torn between relief that her girl is safe and grief that her girl was ever at risk...

 

Wisdom, anyone?

 

What I would tell my sister:  This was a very scary thing. It could have happened to ANYone.  You are a very vigilant parent; you are a wonderful and awesome mom.  Like every mom, you cannot keep your eyes on your baby every single second. Usually nothing happens, because the child is also paying attention.  This was a fluke, and I will say it again, it could have happened to anyone, anywhere.  Do not beat yourself up about this. It is not a reflection of you as a mother.

 

And to prove I'm not just being nice, that I mean what I say, I would still trust you with my kids any time.  Want them for the day?  Overnight? Take them shopping?

 

Seriously.  I love you. It breaks my heart to see you like this.  It could have been any mom, and we can just thank God that she was found relatively quickly and that she was safe.

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We 'lost' our 22 month old when she wandered away at Oktoberfest in Munich.

And we left out 3 year old in a museum in Australia.

We retrieved them both! 

Oh, and one time the car pool guy left my son at school 45 minutes away. But, that one was NOT my fault! :001_rolleyes:

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Yes I have lost all of my kids at least once but never for more then a few minutes. I would be beside myself too if it took over an hour to find them. All mine were returned by store employees and the only way I could deal with it was by not thinking about it and blocking it out otherwise I would be tormented by what could have happened as well.

 

I think your sisters reaction is pretty normal though.. I would be a mess for a long time after if I had lost mine for that length of time. She isn't a bad mother though...kids wander away in a split of a second...its because they are so small. They can get lost in crowds, behind shelves...they can be real close but you still can't see them and they get loster as you try to look for them.

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It happens.  I lost Adrian at Busch Gardens for maybe 3 minutes once (I bent down to tie my shoe and he bolted).  It felt like an hour.  It is the absolute worst feeling.  It was horrible for that few minutes with every second getting more panicked and already beating myself up for stopping to tie my shoe.  I can only imagine what a wreck she was after an hour.

 

A friend of mine has an autistic daughter and they were at the park.  My friend had to change the baby's diaper and in the time she looked down to fasten the diaper, her daughter (who was 12, almost 13, at the time) had disappeared.  She started looking and couldn't find her.  People at the park started helping her look.  At some point someone called the police and they came to help look.  After about an hour, they found the child.  She was in a canal playing in the water having a great time.  She just didn't understand why anyone was worried.  My friend reacted a lot like your sister (and seriously considered looking into GPS trackers, but, thankfully, the child's never disappeared like that since).

 

I think losing kids for a few minutes to a couple hours happens more often than you think.

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Your poor sister!  How terrifying!  A good mother feels that fear, she needs to continue to be a good mother and try not to let the fear overwhelm her or her child.

 

I've lost 2 of mine temporarily.

 

We lost DD in a supermarket when she was about 2?  It was only for a few minutes, I thought DH had her and vice versa, she had gone to look at coloured popcorn!  I was terrified and ready to start shaking down random strangers.

 

We also lost my 3rd child, he is much more of a wild child and escaped out of my in-Laws property - through a locked gate... twice.  He was 2.  That was so scary, there is a train line nearby with regular services, lots of streets to turn into and a main road nearby, 5 of us adults all went in different directions.  He still talks about being found by his uncle and getting to ride in his car!  I wasn't there when the second time happened, so I can't be blamed for that!  He has never done it again and doesn't try escapism much anymore!

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We lost our oldest when she as about 2/3 years old.  We were at the Mall and there was an event going on.  People were standing with their hand on a car, and the last person standing won the car.  Lots of stuff going on all over the mall. At one point DH thought I had her and I thought he had her hand.  When we realized she was gone, the mall was closing. We were running into all the stores checking and they were closing and had to go back in and look.  Frightening!  Finally we knew there was a PA system for the mall at the Walgreens storem around several corners and  half a mall away! (My sister had worked there and that's why we knew about it).  DH took off running to Walgreens and found her outside the Walgreens sitting on the play horse.  We think she followed someone carrying a balloon because she kept saying balloon. Thankfully she stopped walking and climbed on the horse!

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I have never really lost the boys, not for more than a few moments anyway. Whether they are gone for 30secs of 30minutes, it feels like a lifetime. A parent can live and die in the span of a heart beat when their child is in peril.

 

I have had the distinct pleasure of watching my child get run over by a truck in the parking lot. Right after I'd snapped at him and his brother. The thought, immediately before him being hit was: "I'm so sick and tired of this kid!" Imagine, if you will snapping at your kid, thinking that you are 'sick and tired of them' and then turning and seeing them get run over. I felt like less than sh!t for weeks.

 

It was the most bizarre and traumatizing event of my life and I couldn't believe that I'd just gone and let my toddler--with whom I was extremely frustrated with, right up to that point--get himself run over. Like...run over. As in, hit, knocked down, and run over....by a truck. I don't know who was more freaked out--me, Pal, or the driver. All 3 of us just kept screaming! It was utter bedlam for about 40 seconds. Then other people joined in the screaming and gasping and 'oh my god'ing and the cops got there pretty quick. It was one of those trucks that roars and is very loud. I could hear my child screaming even over the engine.

 

Lucky for everyone involved, it was a truck with very big wheels and besides some superficial cuts, Pal was perfectly okay. Rattled, but ok.

 

I took a lot away from that day in general. And Pal finally learned that 'no running in the parking lot' is not an arbitrary rule made up to impede his development and both boys finally began to believe me when I tell them that rules are there to keep us safe.

 

Whenever we were shopping the boys wanted candy and  I would tell them no. That time they asked again and again and again and again! Finally, I told them with great impatience, 'Guys, I don't have a dollar to spend on candy right now, okay?!' So, later in the parking lot, Pal thought he'd seen a dollar and run--very suddenly--to go and get it. When I was hugging and scolding and kissing my boy and asked him what in the world he'd been thinking and why would he do that he said: I wanted a dollar for candy!

 

The driver gave him a $20. The officer game him a twix. I gave him another hug.

I just remember what a shitty dad I was a being. I can't even say how horrible I felt about the way that I'd been to Pal that afternoon. I literally told myself that I was 'sick and tired' of him. Who does that?

Pal just remembers it as: I almost got killed but daddy saved me. Gil is my hero.

 

I still cry sometimes when I think about that day, when I remember hearing my son scream in terror and I am ashamed of how angry/annoyed I was with them both leading up to that exact moment. I just couldn't process it. Whenever I think about it, I hug my guys and tell them I love them. Parenting is overwhelming and nerve wracking and painful and so stressful that it is a wonder that I'd rather die myself than lose my kids.

 

 

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Just tell her that it happens sometimes.  Parents are human, and we're not perfect.  We can't pay attention to everything all the time.

I lost Indy in the Charlotte Int'l airport when he was about 7.  We had just flown in from Germany and were hanging out at the USO between flights.  I was sitting in a recliner and he was playing in the kid area nearby (I could see him).  He came over and asked if he could go to the restroom, which was in the next room (the USO is pretty big).  I told him he could and off he went.  About 10 minutes later, I got up to go see where he was.  I asked a guy who was just coming out of the restroom if there was a little boy in there.  He went back in and checked and no Indy.  Pretty much everyone in there searched the entire USO, which has 2 levels and about 4 or 5 rooms, IIRC.  I was panicking.  The worker up at the front called the police who showed up right away, and started taking a description of him, and sending it out over their radios.  I was in tears and feeling like my world was crumbling when Indy came strolling through the door.  I almost passed out with relief.  He says he didn't see the restrooms in the USO (which were clearly marked-he had to pass them to get out of the USO), so he went out into the terminal to find a bathroom!  On the way back, he's stopped to look at a few things in one of the shops.  All I could think was we were in an Int'l airport with people from all over the world, and taxis, busses and cars just outside the terminal.  He could have been anywhere.  He was perfectly fine of course, but I nearly lost my mind.  It couldn't have been more that 30 minutes or so, but it seemed like forever.

I also lost him in Jerusalem!  It was packed with people, and I somehow lost sight of him.  I was carrying Han Solo and passed him off to my mom, then went running through the crowd.  It should have been easy to see him, since he had on his Indiana Jones hat.  I ran panicking through the rabbit warren of the street we were on for several minutes without spotting him, then turned around and ran back to where our tour group was.  I went back the direction we had come from, and still didn't see him.  Our tour guide was asking everyone if they had seen him, and finally one lady said something in whatever language, like "There he is."  He was near our group, but had gotten separated by another group and was actually quite close to us, but it was so packed he couldn't work his way back over.  He had been right next to me, but something caught his eye and he paused to look at it, then the group cut through.  He wasn't afraid at all, just irritated by the "rude group."  We now never go anywhere without him carrying his phone.

I keep an eagle eye on Han Solo, because that one is a runner.  I know he's going to somehow turn me completely gray by running off.  If I could microchip them, I would!

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Wow, those are some amazing stories! I'm just worried that my sister might be over reacting and her health isn't good to begin with so I'm doubly worried. I have tried telling her over and over and over again that she isn't a bad mom or anything but she hasn't allowed herself to hear me yet. I guess it can take a while for the anxiety to dissipate.

We had an exchange about it and she said I wasn't being sensitive enough. She asked me how I would feel if jr. went missing. I said I'd be devastated because if Jr went missing, it means 100% that he was taken because he's still an infant!!!

I was like: Sis...Jr. can't crawl yet! Let alone run away and hide himself.

 

As I understand it, 4yo Neice left willfully/snuck away from her mom on purpose. Its not like my sister just...forgot she had a kid for an hour.

The problem came when the girl got in the 'employees only' backroom and lost among the boxes/racks/etc, then she got scared and hid.

All eyes and efforts were on the external doors and no one thought to carefully look in the backroom.

 

I'm so glad that my little one is here, safe with me and that my niece is safe with her mom.

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On a lighter note - for me the perfect family is the Huxtable family from the Cosby show - and they lost Rudy!  My mom gave us the whole series for Christmas this year so we have been watching the old shows.  I saw one I never saw before where Vanessa and Theo lose Rudy at the mall.  If they can loose someone - it can happen to anyone!  Yes it is scary and terrifying for the parents and the kids.  Thank god your sister's story turned out fine - as it does in a vast majority of cases.

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I lost my nine month old once :( I ran in the apartment needing to use the bathroom badly. I set him down and rushed back to the bathroom. Came right back to the front room and couldn't find him. I ran around the apartment a few times and then noticed the front door wasn't totally latched. Opened it slowly in disbelief called him name and the next door neighbor was holding him. She was just siting eating and glanced out and saw a little baby just crawling down the sidewalk!!! She had already called the police. We didn't know each other. She suspected it was our baby but came to our apartment and all the lights in the front were out so she thought we weren't home. She called the police back and they never came but I didn't sleep at all for a couple nights terrified that cps would show up. Horrible :(

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Oh and another son fell off the changing table in the bathroom at 3 months. Skull fracture. Picu stay. He is now almost 12 and fine but I get it. I still have immense guilt over that and was quite traumatized for a long long time.

 

Stuff happens and thankfully kids at resilient and are fine most of the time. Just keep helping your sister process it. It also helped me to hear other stories from parents of accidents etc. I knew I was an accident by gosh it was MY fault :( knowing I wasn't alone helped.

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Yes, my oldest hid in the clothes at Walmart when he was 2/3. I could not find him and a worker called a code Adam. He was found within 10 minutes but it was scary and embarrassing. My oldest daughter was lost at Walmart also once for a few minutes but she walked over to a worker at the jewelry counter and told her. They paged us over the loud speaker just as we were about to ask for help. My dh hid under a car on his parents property when he was around 4/5 because he thought he was in trouble. Apparently he hid for some time and his parents were frantic and even called the police. They lived on a large property in the country that had a creek. He came out when he saw the police car lights.

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My mum lost me in the shops for a good 45 minutes once. She felt even worse because I am legally blind, so she felt like needing to keep an eye on me was an even bigger thing than for my sighted sister (the loss had nothing to do with my vision, though admittedly the length of time finding me again may have)

 

My daughter, at age 18mo, was playing outside at my grandmas house. Grandma and I were sitting on the swing chair chatting while she played among the bushes, we were actively watching her, she was no more than 20 meters from us (about 60 feet) but we were also engaged in conversation, as you do when you sit outside watching the kids play, so at times we were momentarily distracted. Suddenly we realized we couldn't see her anymore. Grandad had left the paddock gate open and she had managed to bolt across the horse paddock and into the bushland behind it, looking for the dam she and grandad often walked to together, during the 30 seconds we were distracted (not a deep dam, these days it's usually completely dried up. Unless we have had flooding it's rarely more than a muddy marsh with an inch or two of water, which is why we felt safe showing it to her since there was basically no drowning risk, unlike the proper, 4ft deep dam on the other side of the property which she still doesn't know exists)

 

Losing the kids in public is a big fear of mine because, as a visually impaired person, there's no searching for them myself. If we get separated and they don't come when I call the first couple of times I need to immediately get others involved. Thankfully it means I am naturally very vigilant in this area and I think DD1 is much too scared to wander off from me, but DD2 seems a little less attached... I worry!

 

Use it as a learning experience to teach what to do next time, and don't worry, I think every parent has lost their child at least once.

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My mom and her first husband lost my brother at the World's Fair in NY for over an hour. Another brother got out of the house in the middle of the night. The police found him running down the main road in town wearing only a diaper and measles. That same brother decided to run away when we were visiting our grandma's house one Thanksgiving when he was 9. She lived in a neighborhood that was becoming very rough. It took a few hours to find him. I don't know how my mom survived us!

 

My son was very good about staying close, but I remember a phase he went through of hiding in the racks when we were in a clothing store. I made sure that was a very short lived phase!

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My middle child ran off in a grocery store once.  We couldn't find him and they put the store on lockdown.  It was very scary.  A lady found him in the fruit section hiding under a stand laughing.  He thought it was funny.  I can't remember how old he was at the time, probably about 4 or 5.  He is a kid who doesn't think about consequences and would wander off all the time so I was usually good about keeping an eye on him, but sometimes they are just too fast.

 

My DH got called out once to a lost child call to help in the search. The girl was about 3 or 4 and her mom had put her down for a nap and when the mom went to check on her she was missing.  They looked for her for hours and were about to start searching the nearby pond when she wandered out of the house.  She had been hiding under her bed with some blankets and fallen asleep.  Nobody thought to look there.

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yes I have lost my kid like that, ds15 was a runner.  He would vanish in the middle of the night, if I went to the toilet, if we went out in public.  I had police out searching for him on more occasions than I care to remember.  Once was hours in a mall, he had left the mall, gone around the building, back in a loading dock and into a store room of a shoe store.  He was found by chance by a worker going in to get a different size shoes.  He was 5 years old.  I aged 15 years that day.  \the middle of the night times were horrid.  I tried sleeping with him tied to me.  I slept on the floor outside his bedroom door and eventually I got written permission from his ped to put a lock on his door to keep him in at night so I could get some sleep.  For years I spent time searching for him in stores, driving up and down streets to find him.  It got to be so common for him to be missing that I stopped having the adrenaline kick in like it did initially.  |Sh*t happens, even good moms have their kid vanish for a bit, your sister will be shaken up for while and likely not let her dd out of sight for a while but in the end they both survived and one day this will be a story shared with the dd about how she caused the grey hairs on her head.  

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I lost my youngest DS....twice. The first time he was 2 yrs old when we were at a children's museum. I was there with a friend and her two kids, and we had just come up the elevator to the second floor. A few minutes later, I couldn't locate him. Shortly thereafter I found him downstairs in the room we just left. I know he came up the elevator with us and got off, so I guess he just got back on. I dunno. He wasn't a talker at that age, so I don't know what happened. Freaked me out.

 

Then the second time he was 4 yrs old. We (our whole family) were standing in line at Walmart. The cashier at the jewelry counter called us over and said she could check us out there. It was only a minute or two later that I noticed he wasn't with us. I had them put a code alert for him at the jewelry counter. I ran to customer service and he was standing there. Apparently very soon after we had walked out of that checkout line, someone noticed him standing there and they took him to customer service. I cried....a lot.

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I remember some good ones from my siblings.

 

My sister at 4 was supposed to walk to the babysitter's after school (4 houses from the school).  She decided she didn't want to go there so she walked to the nearest playground, which was across a highway and down to the far end of the street (in the wrong direction).  She was found playing happily some time later.

 

One of my brothers at 5 decided to go visit Grandma, who did not live within walking distance.  He made it some miles before he stopped to ask someone for directions, LOL.  (He was tiny for his age so he looked like a tot.)  Luckily the patch on his eyeglasses was made from my dad's business card, so a telephone call solved that.

 

Another of my brothers at 7 was very independent and he was allowed to go around alone at the County Fair (which was in our hometown), but he was supposed to meet up at a certain place.  He did not show.  We looked all over, then thought maybe he'd walked home.  Nope.  We ran back.  The fair closed.  We searched everywhere.  Finally about 2am he strolls through the front door.  His explanation:  he was helping a drunk guy find an open bar.  They went to all the bars in town, one by one until they finally found the Wooden Nickel still open.  So then he walked home.

 

My sister and I hopped on a friend's school bus one day.  My sister told me our mom had given permission, but it was not true.  The friend was the pastor's kid, so we ended up imposing on the pastor for hours that evening.  My mom was all kinds of upset once she found out what we were up to.

 

My grandmother told me of when she was 5yo and had just recently immigrated and didn't speak any English except "no."  She wandered too far and got lost.  A nice lady tried to help her and asked her questions, but she just kept answering "no."  She was given some chocolate to eat until someone should come and find her.  The chocolate melted in her hand as she cried her eyes out.  Finally a relative found her.

 

I'm beginning to think that something must be wrong with any child who has never gone missing.  ;)

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I think there is probably little you can say except to tell her it happens to even the best mothers. You could read her the experiences of others upthread, and then let her process her way through this. She may need a lot more time than you think to do that. 

 

We lost ds once when he was 4.  We were taking a supper out to dh in the fields.  Ds was chasing some random bits of chaff around and then the next thing we knew, he just... wasn't there. At all.  A half harvested field of wheat and no child in sight at all. At all.  We went frantic for the longest time.  We called the dog thinking he was probably with ds.  No luck.  We searched and called for I don't know how long and then we found ds's rubber boots by the run-off pond.  My heart just stopped.  My dh jumped in and kept going down and every time he came up screamed "I can't feel him!" It was like time stood still.  It seemed to go on forever before dh got out of the water.  I could not move or breathe.  And then we heard the dog going nuts and we looked up to see ds on the other side of the run-off ditch.  We scared the bejeebers out of him yelling and running at him.  He cried and cried.  So did we. 

 

For months, I felt like I was the most heinous mother on the planet.  How could he have got so far in so short a time?  Why did I not just carry him? Why didn't I make him stay in the truck?  I asked every question a person could ask and beat myself up for months. Eventually, I processed through it and realised that while I could have kept my eye on him every second or made him stay in the truck, I didn't do that and I couldn't change that, but, at the same time, I didn't want to squelch that little boy who lived on a farm and should be able to enjoy that.  I did know to keep a closer eye on him and he got multiple lectures on not going off and ALWAYS answering when we call. ALWAYS.  Still.. I will never forget that day, and there will always be a part of me that says "you were just damn lucky."

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Yes. I have lost Ds9 several times. He's autistic and was essentially nonverbal until age 6/7, so any time I looked away for a second and looked back to see that he wasn't in the same place made my heart stop. He isn't particularly adventurous, so I could usually just look in the next aisle and find him sitting down waiting for me. But, when he was about 6, he took off in the mall twice in the same month and both times I received a call within a few minutes (he wears a medical alert bracelet) that they'd found him in the pet store. Once, we had a large department store locked down for about 5 minutes because he'd run off but didn't know his way around so he just sat down in the men's room waiting for someone to find him. 

 

Ds15 is the kid who was always getting left behind, but he was older, and a big, mature kid, so I never worried like I did with Ds9. Over the years we left him at a gas station on a road trip, at a Burger King in NYC and at the airport. We also unintentionally left him home alone a few times when he was 9 or 10 because we honestly didn't know he was in the house. When he was 3/4, I showed up at work with him in the backseat of the car more times than I could count. He was so quiet that I forgot he was in the car and drove right past his preschool. When we'd get to my office, he'd hop out of the car and say "Aw mom, this isn't preschool. You forgot about me again!" 

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I think if you asked who hasn't ever lost, injured, or otherwise badly-parented a child, you'd hear crickets.

 

We've lost one at Disney World and Ikea (fortunately for just a few minutes), one at age 2 or so wandered outside, unbeknownst to us, at 10pm to visit the horses next door (thank God he didn't keep wandering to the pool on the other side of the horse pasture -- we didn't even know he could reach the deadbolt!), hubby squashed a toddler finger in the bathroom door once... they are slippery little creatures, and we can't have eyes on them 24/7.

 

These incidents are so common that they don't make the news and are rarely even a topic of conversation, so when it happens many people don't have any idea just how common it is. The tiny percentage of tragedies do make the news -- over and over around the world -- so the perception is that any child out of our sight for even a moment is likely to be snatched away. The reality is that the overwhelming majority of "missing" kids, especially in a relatively safe environment like a store, end up just fine and often don't even know there was a problem... us parents, on the other hand, may not sleep for a week.

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DD and one of her friends chased bunnies one day and I couldn't find them. It was the first time the girl had spent time at our house.  They were about 9yo and my daughter knew her boundaries well, so it was really odd to not find her in our neighborhood.  I looked for them for about a half hour, (you can search our whole neighborhood thoroughly in 10 minutes) and asked around at the houses with kids.  I called her mom to say "I can't find the girls,  just wanted to you know that I am looking for them." The other mom was fine and just wanted me to update her when they showed up.  I wasn't worried so much as perplexed at their whereabouts. But, the inability to find them, was definitely concerning,  A half hour later they showed up, they had been laying in some long grass on a side road that cuts through a pasture.  I had looked down the road but they were no where to be seen, since they were laying down in the high grass.

 

The hardest part was calling the other girls mom.  I didn't want to alarm someone unnecessarily, but I didn't want to have lost her kid and not told her.

 

 

One time I realized I forgot that I had one of my kids with me when I went to the video store.  When I came back to the car, I found then little one still buckled up and happy as could be.  I was only gone a couple of minutes, but still!  I completely forgot about my kid!  

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Both of my girls got away from me when they were toddler/preschool age--one at the at the grocery store and one at Walmart. I didn't lose track of them for more than a few minutes, but both times it happened when I was distracted and it made me feel so incompetent.

 

I hope she isn't too hard on herself. Ask her what she would do if she saw a chilld who appeared to be lost. Like she would, most people would be inclined to help--not hurt--the child in that situation. Once I took a toddler back home after he had escaped from his yard and was in our driveway. His mom felt terrible when she realized what had happened. She had been focused on another task outside. I was scared for him too thinking what could've happened, and I think that concern is the usual response.

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I briefly lost my son once in a friend's house. He had fallen asleep under blankets on a top bunk bed. A worker at a grocery store and clothing store told me that kids get lost in the store all the time. She said that day one kid wandered out of the store and was outside sledding on a hill. They had lots of people combing the store looking for him and he was found by the security cameras. I remember an incident from my own childhood when I was very young where I was seperated from my mom and grandma at a store and then I could see them but was still hiding when an announcement came on about a missing child.

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My son used to love to hide under the clothes on those round carousels in department stores. One time I lost him, could not find him (he evidently did not answer when I called him) and I alerted store security 10 minutes later. They had already found him and now he was sitting with the security guys in their cubicle chewing on a lollipop. He was none the worse for the wear, sitting there with a big grin and some red goo dripping down his chin and I nearly had had a coronary.

 

I think there is not a single parent who never went through this. For some poor souls the agony lasts longer if the kid is not found immediately but thank God your niece was found unharmed.

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It happened with DD at the zoo on a national holiday, so picture a lot of people. I wanted to break down and scream because there were so many scenarios running through my mind, but that wouldn't have done any good. You can't really say anything to comfort her. The anxiety from such an experience will follow you for some time. The zoo security guards were very helpful, dispersing in various directions on their bikes and communicating via walkie-talkies, all looking for a girl who was wearing her very best for a day at the zoo.

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Not really, but only because I'm the oldest of my sibs and I lost my youngest sister a couple times (once at our huge county fair for over an hour).  I am HYPER-vigilant now. The thing is everyone gets distracted, every 4 y.o. runs off. It happens, she's not a bad mom but she may take awhile to realize that. 

I did have a scare when my DD was 2.5.  She had been quiet for a good 10 minutes so I went looking for her.  I searched the house, checked all the locks(all good), no baby!  After going nuts and screaming down the house for 15 minutes, I found her asleep in the toy box.  She was so little and dressed in pink, so she blended. 

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My son with autism wandered out a friend's back yard and walked over to the nearby thrift store when he was about 4 or 5. We had been to that store and he remembered it. I thought he was playing in the sandbox under their high deck and did not realize he was gone. He was almost totally nonverbal at the time.

 

Someone in the parking lot of the store approached him and realized something was wrong with him. That person held onto him and called police who picked him up. The policeman had just put him in the squad car when my frantic 911 call came through. The store was literally around the corner. When the squad car came my son was all smiles. I was in tears and almost kissed the policeman. I never had the opportunity to thank the citizen who called but I am indebted to that good person. It took me a while to recover and I have always been more vigilant with our son since. It does not pay to dwell on the incident although that is easy to do. It is better to learn and move on.

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We lost our 5yo daughter while setting up for a church convention on a rural property.  There were lots of friends around, so we weren't too worried about keeping eyes on them at all times, but they never went far away from us anyway.  At lunch time, dd was nowhere to be found.  There were farm dams on the property, so we had people out searching around the dams for little kid footprints and all.  I was getting very panicked.  She was only missing for about 45mins when finally someone found her asleep on one of the top bunks of the accommodation area that we'd been setting up earlier.

 

My oldest daughter held a live-in nanny position when she was about 19yo for a 4 yr old boy.  The first week she was there she took him shopping, and didn't realize that his favorite game in the shop was playing hide-and-seek.  Of course he ran off in Target to hide, and she couldn't find him anywhere!  She was calling for him, and of course he was not letting on where he was!  She had the shop assistants and all looking for him and keeping an eye on the exit.  Of course when he was found he was so excited that she hadn't been able to find him for so long.  Needless to say, she said...from now on, NO hide-and-seek in the shops! She rang me later so stressed, and said the whole time she was thinking she'd have to say to the mother that she lost her child on their first outing in the first week there! 

 

I think it's a very common occurrence with that age group.

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I have never lost one of my children . However I have found at least 10 lost children over the years. Mostly they had parted ways with their parents in a busy market or shopping center and by me holding them up high their parent was able to spot them. Twice I found lost children at a Church assembly (of over 10000) I took those children to the lost property, where they were found in about 10 minutes.

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i remembered another time. I can't remember which son it was! Got away from me in a store, the shop keepers stopped him before he got to the parking lot.

 

My cousins twin boys were toddlers when they decided to take a walk to the local shops! She was putting the baby to bed and they escaped! They were returned with no problems. :)

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I lost my younger daughter for over an hour in the house once.  She was 3 1/2 and hadn't napped in over a year but must have been extra tired because she crawled into the back of her closet and fell asleep on a shelf under a stack of blankets.  I searched everywhere, called her name, etc and couldn't find her.  The doors were locked and alarm was on (we kept it on since she was a wanderer) so I knew she had to be in the house somewhere but was still very worried that something had happened to her.  My 5 year old finally found her and I have never been more relieved.

 

I have also found lost kids.  A toddler walking down the street in our neighborhood (had to call the police after an hour when we couldn't find her mom), a preschooler at the circus and more than one 5-7 year old at the zoo.  

 

Around that age we taught our girls to look for a mommy with a stroller if they got lost.  Generally moms with small babies will help lost children (and will know how to help them) and they tend to feel much less threatening to a child than approaching a staff person or police man.

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