As a parent, you pride yourself on the the little things: getting through an hour without a toddler tantrum, managing to get a shower with minions underfoot and remembering to change your breast milk stained shirt at least every other day.
You also pride yourself on the BIG things: keeping those minions alive all day, managing to not run away from home when the toddler does throw that eventual tantrum and not losing any of the minions in the course of your errands.
Not losing them is a big deal. Because it’s HARD to keep track of those little escape artists. And people JUDGE you if you lose your kid. Because grown up parents, res-pons-ible parents don’t do stupid things like lose their precious littles.
We totally lost Fruit Loop #1 once.
When the Fruit Loops were two and four, we took our yearly sojourn to the beaches of southern Florida. As we trudged to the beach every day, like a tribe of Bedouins, with sand toys, beach chairs and sunblock, we realized very quickly how much it sucks to take toddlers to the beach.
Gone were the days of relaxing in the sun, lost in a good book.
You spend your time making sure they don’t drown, burn to a crisp or eat so much sand that they poop out a sand castle brick. It’s exhausting. And hard. And not at all a good idea.
In the middle of the third day of pretending we were enjoying our beach vacation, Hubby decided to take the Fruit Loops for a walk up the beach. I’d like to think it was to give me a break but I’m pretty sure it was self preservation: he was pretty tired of me yelling at him to “Watch him with that sand!” and “She’s too small to go into the water that deep, dummy!”
I suspect he was trying to run away and the Fruit Loops just happened to follow him but I digress.
As I watched them meander away from our beach blanket, I fell into a conversation with a lovely woman who mentioned she had eight children, all boys. EIGHT BOYS. She also mentioned that they’d all made her a grandmother two times over: she had sixteen GRANDDAUGHTERS.
As I stood there in the sun, with the sound of the surf in my ears, I marveled that the woman in front of me had managed to not only survive but that she was still standing upright. Eight boys. 16 girls. The math was just astounding.
Now, I don’t want to place any blame for this next part of the story but I will anyway: I blame the fact that we lost Fruit Loop #1 on this woman entirely. Her and her 24 humans.
I had just learned the stymieing fact that this woman was single handedly trying to populate the land on her own when Hubby approached us at the end of his stroll with the Fruit Loops. As he walked over, Fruit Loop #1 passed through the corner of my vision toward where I assumed was our spot on the beach.
I was so focused on this woman’s wonder uterus that I failed to turn my head to verify that Fruit Loop #1 had, in fact, made it to our beach blanket.
Eight kids, people. I could barely wrap my brain around the two I currently owned. I’m telling you, this is her fault.
I continued to chat with the Lady of The Wonder Hoo Ha for a few more minutes and backed away slowly, lest she try to knock me up with her secret baby making powers. As I trudged in the sand back to our blanket, I found Hubby and Fruit Loop #2 in a battle over how much sand was appropriate in one’s mouth. But Fruit Loop #1 was absent.
Fruit Loop #1 was nowhere to be found.
Actually not within our field of vision.
And that’s when panic set in.
Real, visceral, animal instinct panic flowed through my body as I stood on that colorful beach looking for my son.
I whirled from left to right, I picked up blankets and shook them out (because THAT made sense…), I screamed his name. I stopped in the middle of my panic and screamed, “I don’t have a picture of him. I DON’T HAVE A PICTURE OF HIM!!”
My little boy was lost.
And I was the one who lost him.
Now, a funny thing happens when you lose your child on a beach in Florida filled with retirees. Retirees that are all grandparents. Grandparents who realize that when a mother is screaming her child’s name, someone ELSE’S grandchild is missing.
Those grandparents get up and start screaming your child’s name and searching with you. Bronzed octogenarians yelling information up and down the coast line to each other:
“He’s wearing an orange fisherman’s cap!”
“He’s wearing a yellow striped shirt!”
“He was last seen over by that woman with the 8 kids! SHE HAS EIGHT KIDS??” (I’m kidding. But seriously, EIGHT KIDS??).
And those grandparents searching with you find your child with another grandparent, about a half mile down the beach. A bronzed, copper colored grandparent who has bought your son an ice cream because she knows you are looking for the little boy in the orange hat, that you are frantic and that you will run down the beach eventually so “we should just stay put until Mommy comes.”
As you run toward your little boy, his mouth covered in chocolate ice cream, his face lights up when he sees you. Not because he was afraid, but because a nice lady bought him an ice cream and he wants to share it with you.
As you scoop him up, adrenaline still coursing through your veins, you realize that you need to pack your stuff up and leave immediately because you just became the parents who lost their kid on the beach.
And, you realize that you should never, ever be allowed to be in charge of humans, much less listen to stories about women who have eight of them.
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