I'm pretty calm, generally. I go through the challenges that greet me without too much fanfare most of the time. Generally, that 'way' of doing things makes getting through said challenges much easier. So, today, I took the kids to Lagoon. (For those not familiar with my area of the country, Lagoon is a local amusement park which has been around more than 100 years. It's the only game in town, and VERY crowded in the summer.) My sister was with me, along with two of her children and T's best friend also came along. I knew that one of the biggest issues I'd have was keeping Q, my seven year old son, close. He's, shall we say, easily distracted. I was 100% correct. We had to stop progress from 'here' to 'there' at least four times during the day because we realized that Quinn was no longer with us. The first couple of times, a little backtracking resolved the problem with relative ease. . . in fact I'm not even sure HE knew that he was lost when we found him. When he is walking he looks EVERYWHERE, except at the people he's walking with. He's intrigued by things and wants to know. I know this though, right? So we just took stock consistently and most of the time we were good.
Now, within Lagoon, there is a Water Park known as 'Lagoon-A-Beach'. Very nice way to escape the horrible heat of the day. It was supposed to hit 100 today, and we were prepared. When that heat came on. . . we went to the water. We weren't the only smarties at the park though - it was near capacity and jammed like no other area. There were walkways in and around the people, but only just barely. We wandered for a bit until we found a fantastic, shady spot where a family was just about to leave behind three lounge chairs. It was Heaven. . . until I realized that Q had NOT made it there with us. I headed out on the hunt. I was stressed, this time. I am largely unfamiliar with the water park there. People everywhere, lounging, walking, busy - no one really worried about lost children. I knew the employees might care though so I asked, and was directed to the first aid area, not too far away. I started to talk to the man inside the room. It took him a moment to understand what I was saying. In the time it took to arouse his interest, and at the point where I was about to describe my son to him, Q walked by outside. Looking at me, Q's little face lit with relief. I excused myself with a quick, "That's him, " and grabbed him around the shoulders as quickly as I could. I asked him if he had been afraid. He said that he had been but that a little whisper told him "Go that way." Thank Heaven I was 'down that way' and not running frantically all over the place. Someone Somewhere knew I'd go with my gut—to look for help— and they told my boy. I get the feeling that helping my son to hear and recognize that voice as his friend could be very important in his life.
Just so you know, that's NOT when I knew how it felt to lose Q.
We had yet another incident of fairly easily rectified dalliance. He was glad to be once again scooped up and saved from himself, but only slightly shaken. . . and I should have known.
We were all ready to go. We had some final treats in hand. The older boys needed to get their tickets validated and headed off in that direction. My middle children followed happily, and I expected to be right on their heels. The last of the treats, however, made a HUGE mess on the counter before I could even pick it up. It got on my keys, and and anything within about 6 inches of it. The young man apologetically helped me to clean it up. When I finally got everything I needed, without the extra-sticky coating, I started to walk to where I knew they'd be waiting. A was the only one who had stayed with me. The sun had set and it was getting very dark. I recognized as I was walking, how different the park was at night. Lower visibility, lights flashing everywhere. Even though we had been there all day, and we had become fairly familiar with things, it was all different now. When I arrived, everyone was relaxing and waiting. . . I took stock. "Where's Q?" Heads darted in every direction. T and his best friend took off immediately. I got the C settled with the girls in a well lit spot near the main crossroads of the park and headed out to look myself. This time, however, I WAS frantic. The thought of Q trying to find his way around in the dark was overwhelming to me. I went to every place that we'd been in the previous 10 minutes. Every place he'd shown obvious interest in. I talked to the employees along the way, describing him. No one had seen him. I saw T running a couple of times along the way as well. My heart was melting. I had looked for him so many times already that day. His little image and my relief at "seeing" it again so many times, was burned on my mind. I knew I needed help. I stopped a Security employee of the park and he was quick to spread the word. I described my son to him. "He is seven years old. He is wearing a Turquoise shirt with white stripes. He has on navy blue shorts. He has dark hair. When he walks, he looks at everything. He doesn't pay much attention to where he's going." The young man asked if I knew where the security office was, and said that I should check there in about 20 minutes. That seemed like SO long.
I was panicking. My heart was breaking wide open, as I contemplated the possibility that those clothes I had 'found' him in time after time today might be the last things I'd ever see him wear. I went once again on the loop that I had made previously, hoping that he'd go back to one of those spots to look for me. It hadn't been nearly the twenty minutes originally estimated, but even so, I KNEW what an eternity without Q would feel like and it was devastating. Finally, without success, I felt I should return to where C and the girls were waiting for me, and I did. As I came around the corner, my hope was that he would be sitting there with them as though nothing had happened. I was not soothed, however. He was not there. I didn't want to upset the other children, and did my best not to show them how worried I was. It was a fairly futile effort however. They knew it was serious.
Then, just as I was about to break into sobs of grief, those tears turned miraculously to joy. A tall young man in a light blue Lagoon polo shirt and khaki pants rounded the corner with his arm draped around the shoulders of a small dark-haired boy. Dressed in a striped turquoise shirt. Wearing navy blue shorts. This time however, that little boy's eyes were riveted to me. He started to cry, as did I. I ran to him and threw my arms around him . . one more time. We cried and cried. It seemed like ages. I looked gratefully at the young man, and thanked him. He commented that my description of him had been absolutely perfect. "It should be," I said. "He's my son."
I'm grateful to know a loving Father in Heaven loves me no less than I love this little child. He loves me, each of us, so much more even that I can imagine. Love is the reason I believe so firmly in God. I know that Someone Somewhere understands.