I admit it. I lost my son. Not recently, but four years ago, just a few months after his first birthday and just a few days before Christmas. I thought about this tonight when my family went to the local arboretum’s festival of lights, which is where it happened.
That night, there were seven of us: me, my husband, his parents, our nanny (at the time), and Lee and Ted. Our nanny wasn’t working, she was just along for the ride. We told her the rest of us would be watching over Ted.
The problem was this: too many adults. When there’s only one adult to watch one or two children, that adult usually errs on the side of vigilance. Add another adult and things become very lax – kids get forgotten at daycare.
Add a third adult, and more kids, and you get a scene like the one at my house a few years ago, when Jules’ s daughter Hannah was trapped for many, many seconds in our toy box -- yes with an oh-so-narrow air slit built in -- with another friend’s daughter sitting purposefully on the lid, not budging in response to Hannah's screaming... while all three moms chatted away upstairs, and while the other three kids, amazingly, did nothing. Yes, we talked about that.
Anyway, there were five of us adults the night we lost Ted. The point of our outing was to have a nice walk among all the rainbows, clouds, lightning, birds, frogs, monsters, wolves, you name it… all fashioned out of Christmas lights and spread out over many, many acres of dark, freezing, wind-swept park. For most of our tour, Lee and Ted rode in our stroller, bundled with winter coats and blankets. Both of them got out to walk, and every second their feet touched the uneven earth, I worried that Ted, especially, might trip over a root or fall against one of those huge landscaping rocks or something, since he had only been walking for four months. It also occurred to me that one or both kids might wander off. So out there in the dark, I watched both kids closely, hovering at their elbows.
After strolling by one of our favorite parts of the show, the mighty green dragon, we headed out, but stopped by the visitor center to use the bathroom. Suddenly it wasn’t cold, dark and dangerous. In the wonderfully warm and glowingly lit visitor center, we all relaxed. There were benches, water fountains, stands selling hot chocolate and hot apple cider. My husband went to the bathroom. I took pictures of the kids next to a frog sculpture. Then I went up to the information desk to ask a question, which seemed important at the time.