23 September 2009

I Can't Find My Little Boy

You know that heart-stopping, sinking feeling you get when you scan a room full of toddlers and momentarily you can't see your child? Try to imagine that feeling lasting for a bit longer, for a few minutes perhaps. Feel sick yet?

This afternoon I gathered up Cash at the end of Playgroup. Presley was riding round on a toy tractor. I told him that I was putting Cash in the pushchair and I would come back for him. I put Cash's coat on and started fastening the pushchair straps. I looked round to see where Presley was.

I could see the abandoned tractor, but no Presley. The church hall was emptying. I had the heart-stopping, sinking feeling. I scanned the hall again. I looked into the empty Wendy House.

'Where's Presley?', I asked. The few people around didn't know who I meant. I knew I wouldn't be able to spot him with his new short hair, so how would they? We haven't been coming for that long.

'Presley', I called. Nothing.

'PRESLEY...PRESLEY'. Still nothing.

'I can't find my little boy'.

I asked the Playgroup leader, Lisa, to watch Cash. I felt an awful rising panic. I ran outside.

'Is there a little boy out here?'. The other mothers deigned to stop their chatting to look at me like I was a bit simple. 'I can't find my little boy, have you seen a boy, running around?'. They hadn't.

I ran back in. I think the others were looking for Presley and discussing where he could be, but I couldn't hear properly. I felt like I was under water. Sound was muffled. Above the sound of rushing water I heard Lisa say 'he could be out the back'.

I ran to the first door. Beyond this door were three closed doors. What if he was stuck in a cupboard? 'PRESLEY'. I tried the first door, it was locked. I thought I'm not going to find him.

I opened the second door. He wasn't in the kitchen, but Maggie, who was washing up, hadn't seen him. She came out with me and we tried the third door. This led out to the church entrance. He wasn't there. She assured me the external doors were locked. She showed me the doors were locked. She said 'he can't get out'.

But what if he had? The church is at a busy junction. If he had got out, he could have gone in any direction. He could have tried to cross the road. I'm not going to find him. 'PRESLEY'.

I thought I heard a child crying, faraway. The sound was being carried on the wind. Would I always hear this child crying and never be able to reach him? 'PRESLEY'.

The world was closing in on me, swallowing me up, ready to spit me out. 'PRESLEY'.

I went back into the main hall, ready to try the other door to the toilets. Someone had left the door open.

Presley sauntered out through the open door.

I ran and scooped him up in my arms. I held him tight. I told him that he knows he has to stay where mummy can see him and where he can see mummy. My voice sounded strange to me, like it sounds on tape or video. The water was still whooshing around me.

Presley sank into me. I think he knew something had happened, but wasn't sure so he clung on to me.

Lisa brought a chair for us to sit on (this must have happened before).

I sobbed into my baby's T-shirt.

I pulled myself together, dried my eyes and got Presley's coat. My hands were shaking so much it took me a while to fasten the zip. It took me even longer to strap him into the pushchair.

I mustered a weak smile and thanked Lisa. I cried all the way home. I cried when I told Andy. I cried as I drank my cup of tea. I cried with relief.



  1. Well, I'm a teacher and if I tell people that it usually elicits some response about finishing at 3pm and having lots of holidays, so I'm a bit naughty, I don't say I'm a teacher, I say I'm a photographer or a singer and then I blag my way!

    I've always thought SAHM was a misnomer, as if you stay at home all day - you'd go stir crazy!

  2. Blimey Sandy, I haven't had to look that long, but I have had a shorter experience - so glad you found him. Be gentle with yourself, I bet you'll be a bit shaken for a couple of days.

    It can happen so easily, when there are lots of other Mums & babies around. We think that these are safe environments, but sadly the other mums can be totally oblivious to an extra youngster walking out with them, or disappearing through a door that they shouldn't. I know of a toddler who got out of a local play group/pre-school via this mechanism - it has been running for 20yrs prior to that with no probs. Another Mum did recognise her wandering down a road & took her back. My old son's nursery wouldn't listen to my concerns and requests for signs to parents to keep doors shut. The new one counts the kids in it out. It feels weird queuing for the child waving at you through a window - but preferable.
    Big hugs to you & the boys.

  3. Oh Sandy poor you, it must be so terrible...only ever lost smurf for a few seconds...when they hide and don't answer your call, and that is more than bad enough.

    Thankfully all was well and you and Presley & Cash are fine,and thank goodness you are!! x

  4. Oh my, my heart stopped just reading that. SO glad you found him. Hugs to you and Presley x

  5. Oh it's awful ... I get that problem when we're in the supermarket, little man loves to run off into the other aisle. It's hard to control him so I avoid going there now, that split second (or longer) when you can't see them is just awful x

  6. I lost my little boy in a similar situation - it was absolutely terrifying.

    Unfortunately Ben's experience hasn't taught him not to run off and I have to have eyes in the back of my head. He's certainly given me a few grey hairs.

    So glad you were both okay. But I know that crying with relief bit.

  7. It can happen so fast and everyone always thinks you're over reacting until it happens to them.

    I'll be hovering over my children until they're 18yrs old whether they like it or not.

  8. Awful thing to happen, that. We've all been there. Glad it turned out ok.

  9. I know that feeling well, just this weekend we were up the woods and I lost K for about 10 minutes, I was in blind panic! I cried too, so you have all my sympathies, its the worst feeling in the world

  10. Thank God all was well. Very scary for you though.

  11. Oh my God Sandy, that must be every Mother's worst nightmare. Thank God he was OK, and well done you for managing to get home. I would have probably had to call my OH out of work after a nightmare like that.

  12. Ghastly moments! Horrible feeling, I remember it well. Thank God he was fine!

  13. Working Mum, that's so funny! Yes, I agree about the staying at home part. I have to get out of the house every day, even if it's a walk round to the shops!

    Mummy Whisperer, thank you, yes, I have felt pretty shaky since then. I thought he had slipped out of the door when the others were leaving, it must be easily done, especially as there are a few childminders with three or four children in tow. Luckily the other doors were locked.

    Lorraine, they give you such a fright. I've aged ten years! Luckily all's well that ends well x

    Jane, thank you x

    Frogs & Sprogs, I still strap him into the trolley. I feel more comfortable like that. I know I should let him have more freedom, but it's too stressful! x

    Half Mum Half Biscuit, thank you, it was the worst thing in the world, but he was fine. x

    Ella, I remember reading your post about it. It's just awful. You must need eyes everywhere with your lot. I struggle to keep track of two! Yes, hair-dye is an essential purchase too. x

    The Mommy Daddy, there isn't enough cotton wool in the world to keep them safe, but we do what we can.

    Mwa, thank you x

    Tawny, ten minutes? Oh you poor thing. I bet you were frantic. I'm so relieved you found him in the end. It is the worst feeling in the world. x

    Very Bored Housewife, I don't remember ever being as frightened.

    Ellen, you're right, it is a nightmare. Luckily we only live five minutes away from playgroup. I just wanted to get home safe!

    Dulwich Divorcee, yes, that's the main thing. I hope I never have to go through that again!

  14. Only just read this. Oh hun!! that's so scary when that happens even for a moment. So glad he was okay.

  15. Ruth, all's well that ends well, but my goodness I got a fright. I never want to have to go through that again. x

  16. So stressful, so scary. I'd have cried and cried for a week. So glad it ended well. x

  17. Fraught Mummy, it has really shaken me up. I watch him like a hawk now. x

  18. I can completely relate to your panic and fear. I once lost my littlest for quite awhile. I wrote about it here: http://www.jhsiess.com/2009/07/03/i-get-that-sinking-feeling/

    So happy that you had the same happy ending I did. My guy is now 18 and I have a whole new set of worries!

    Writing My Life
    The Rising Blogger

  19. JHS, Hi there. Your excellent post brought the feelings back. So glad we both got our boys back!

  20. and i'm crying now as I read this. Been there, lost my little girl once. not a feeling i EVER want to revisit.

  21. Heather, I'm sorry to have upset you by bringing back those feelings. It's just a horrible thing to happen. x


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