...it's hard not to panic. When Darius' teacher at church poked her head into my class [where I spend two hours with a bundle of sweet little ones!] and told me that Darius was missing my heart skipped a beat. I scooped up Eli, and bolted out the door. She had already been searching for him, and the only information she could give me was "he just walked out the door." So, we began with the bathrooms, classrooms, where his Daddy usually is [but wasn't yesterday due to work], then headed out to where we had parked, and checked the rest of the parking lot for good measure. Eli yelled "DE!" the entire time, while I yelled an echoing "DARIUS COME OUT NOW!" but still no luck. After about 15 minutes and ten others joining in the hunt, my emotions got the best of me and the tears became a cascading waterfall down both cheeks. A dear friend and neighbour seeing me, running the halls searching for Darius while holding Eli, took Eli, gave me a hug, and assured me Darius would be okay. After about 20 minutes he was found when the pianist when to sit down at the piano and found him lying at the pedals. He had been in the same room THE ENTIRE TIME.
When we got home from church, after me trying to be focused [and failing miserably] through the rest of my class and choir practise, Daddy and I sat Darius down and had a serious talk about the appropriate times to play hide and seek, and the importance of asking Mom and Dad if he can play hide and seek before starting the game. My eyes were still sore and swollen by the time I was crawling into bed, having again cried as I yet again had thanked the Lord for keeping Darius safe and sound.
I talked to my favourite Police Officer and asked for advice in case there is a 'next time' [which I don't know if I could physically handle, but at least I'm mentally prepared for now.] His tips were right in line with my thoughts after the event had settled and are great, so I thought I would share them with all the other Mama's out there in case you have to endure this experience - which I hope you NEVER DO!
1) Always start your search where the child was seen last. No matter who has started searching already, and no matter how long the search has been going, always begin at last point of contact [if I had done this, man alive would yesterday been far less emotional!]
2)Fan out from this central point, if for some reason your child has not yet been found. Check behind curtains, under furniture etc, as children can fit where we can't. And, like Darius, some children can lay very still for long periods of time if playing hide and seek.
3) Stay calm, and ask yourself questions about this child. Do they like to play games? Do they ask for permission? Would they go outside? Would they go with strangers? It is important to stay calm while asking yourself these questions so your imagination isn't answering them, but rather the child's previous behaviour is. Also, staying calm will allow your senses to focus on the search instead of being caught up in your own 'worst case senario' thoughts. Trust me, don't go there.
My sweet boys is safe and sound, and I am so very grateful for that today and everyday - but especially today after yesterday's panic.