While on vacation recently in Ann Arbor, I accidentally left my kid at the museum. Well actually it was his Dad and his four siblings fault too (I’m just sayin’)…but I forgot to do the #1 thing I always do when we go places: the headcount!
So here we all were, enjoying our exclusive, behind-the-scenes tour of the University of Michigan, having a blast! It was homecoming weekend Saturday, football game day, so no doubt everyone was overly dressed in everything maize and blue. We were traveling with our dear friends and as a group of 11 at that time, we went to the Museum of Natural History. Everyone split up and after tons of selfies, group shots, and three floors of history, we left.
After getting lost for about 40 minutes because our friend Carl was absolutely certain the hotdog place we just had to eat at, was around this corner and up that street…we eventually found it. With a line out the door, we waited for about 15 minutes before we placed our order. That’s when I noticed Isaiah was missing.
Anytime we go anywhere to eat, I always order for me and Taylor first, then Aaron orders, then the boys…that’s when I realized I was one boy short. I glanced immediately at the kids’ table, no Isaiah. I glanced at the adult table, no Isaiah. I pushed passed everyone towards the single stall bathroom, no Isaiah. (Some smart person should do a medical study on how quickly your heart beats when in a true state of fear. I’m sure mine reached life-threatening range at that moment.)
Me: Aaron where’s Isaiah? Boys where’s Isaiah?
Boys & Taylor in Unison: Uhhh….I don’t know!
Aaron: What do you mean you don’t know? Did he come in here with us?
Carl: Yeah, I thought he was in front of me. (Turns out Kahlil was in front of Carl!)
Yvonnie (Carl’s wife): Maybe he’s outside…
Aaron & I dart outside, pushing pass everyone….no Isaiah.
Me: What the hell! Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my God!!
Aaron: Just relax, this is Isaiah we’re talking about….he’s fine! Does he have his phone?
Me: No, but hey someone just texted me! (me reading like I’m illiterate) Your. son. is. at. the. front. at. the. entrance. of. the. natural. history. museum.
Me: Aaron he’s at…. (looking around for Aaron) Aaron? Aaron! (in a sea of maize and blue, I see him already 2 blocks away!)
Carl: I’m going with Aaron!
Yvonnie laughing: You’re not gonna catch up to Aaron!
Me: I can’t believe I forgot Isaiah!
Yvonnie: At least he knew your phone number!
I call the stranger from the text and ask if he’s an employee of the museum or if he’s a complete stranger. He replies that he’s a complete stranger (I gasp for air and a quick image of a pedophile crosses my mind), BUT, he continues, my son is still standing there. (Praise God!!) I tell him his Dad is coming and thank him. (He probably thinks I’m crazy and neglectful as hell! What kind of Mom leaves her son?!)
Meanwhile, I yell at my boys! “Look left and right, you are responsible for your neighbor! Make sure everyone is with us ALL.THE.TIME! Got it!” They agree, but then Cameron, either to comfort me or to piss me off says, “Mom, nothing’s gonna happen, besides, Isaiah looks like a college student!”
I ignore him and what seemed like forever, but really not even 10 minutes later, Aaron shows up with Isaiah. His first words to me, “I’m hungry! When’s my food gonna be ready?” Typical Isaiah response when every part of me is ready to hold his hand like’s he a toddler for the remainder of the trip! Then Carl cracks, “If Isaiah has never hugged his Dad before, he definitely hugged Aaron when he saw him just now!” We all laughed…. but mine was filled with huge relief and partial embarrassment.
And that’s when the support of good friends and not parent shamers come in. Turns out, Carl & Yvonnie have also left kids behind and been left by their parents a few times! Kyle (Carl & Yvonnie’s son) looks at me and says, “One time we lost my sister! We had to close the whole zoo,” bites his hotdog, “she was standing next to the giraffes!” My boys laugh hysterically, then I see and feel the real Isaiah put to ease. Sigh, he’s ok now, he’s back with his family.
Aaron looked at me, because he knew that I was still freaking out through my mannequin smile and masked conversation and gave me the “it’s ok” head nod. All the adults began to swamp other #parentfail stories and I realized, it happens! Unintentionally many times, many parents have left their kids behind- and most times they have happy endings and sometimes it ends in tragedy.
I lost my son for a little over an hour and the sheer panic of it was enough to say, “Lord, if you don’t do anything else for me, I am extremely grateful that you allowed me to hold my 6’3 teenage son’s hand again! -Cause trust me, once we left that hotdog place, I held his hand for a good five minutes before he told me I was making him feel weird!
Joshua 1:9 (TLB) Yes, be bold and strong! Banish fear and doubt! For remember, the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.