It happens so suddenly..when a child wanders off
My friend's son got lost (or perhaps I should say separated from us) very briefly in the park a couple of weeks ago. My friend and I were there together, watching as six of our children climbed an enormous old oak tree. Given their activity, our attention was focused upwards on the tree and them climbing safely, as we stood at the foot of it directing them. So, regrettably, we didn't notice when her son took hold of the football we'd also brought with us, and wandered slightly further away than we thought. Not far, in the final analysis, just twenty yards or so to the crowded play swings, but it was far enough in a big park to scare us and him very badly.
I've always taught my kids to stand still and shout for mummy if they get lost. On this occasion my friend's child did call out for us, and a kind father helped him, and he was able to accurately describe the purple top my friend was wearing, so that we located each other within a couple of minutes. But they were horrible minutes.
Should we be planning for the worst?
And so it got me thinking....should you always be creating a plan for these eventualities when you go out?
Should you always be taking a mental audit of what your children are wearing (sounds stupid, but when you have three of four small people to consider, it's easy for it all to merge into not quite sure-ness).
Should you be asking them to describe what you are wearing as you head out so they can describe you, or designating a check point (like the cash tills) every time you go into a shop?
Another friend I know has taught her five year old to recite relevant mobile numbers, which is something I think I ought to invest some time in. I do, in a crowded theme park, write my contact numbers on their forearms, but I seriously doubt they could recite my number.
When does planning become paranoia?
But where does this spill over into creating paranoia, and losing a sense of trust and freedom?
When do children actually become nervous to go out and lose that sense of being young and carefree in a park? They need to know stranger danger, but they don't need to live in its constant shadow. I think children SHOULD be allow to roam free to enjoy and explore their surroundings up to a point, with us, their parents, operating in the background to make sure those surroundings are safe.
So is it not better just to have a firmly understood, single rule? Maybe mine is not perfect, but stand still and yell as loud as you can for me, would be my version of this.
I don't know...but the point is, these moments are never planned, as we so aptly demonstrated that day. They sneak up on you and, frankly, scare the living daylights out of you.
So there it is, my question to you...what would you do? Maybe it's time for us all to (quietly) plan for the unexpected.
Look forward to reading your thoughts. x
The Gotrovo Treasure Hunt blog is written by mums to share their experience of raising seven little children with other growing families. Gotrovo is an award-winning treasure-hunt game for use in the home, garden, schools and pre-schools. Children will be having so much fun they won't even notice they're learning!