At the pumpkin patch, while watching my younger children drawing in the chalk room, my oldest son, who is 11, asked if he could go play some games elsewhere. I was quick to say “sure.” Growing up in the ’90s, we were off riding bikes all over the neighborhood at that age. Of course, now is a different time, but I figured he would be okay going to another area alone. After all, it was only about 10 or so yards away.
After a little bit of time, we decided it was time to go. I glanced around and did not see my oldest son. My first reaction was irritation. “He is going to be grounded from games after this!,” I said. My middle son and I decided to walk down the hill to a game area while my husband and youngest son searched up the hill. I didn’t see my oldest son. My husband didn’t see him. My middle son started to worry. My irritation turned to worry.
I went to the little store near the ticket booth and asked for assistance; they immediately sprang into action. I described what my son was wearing and pulled up a picture on my phone, one which I had taken of him 15 minutes earlier.
As I looked down at my sweet boy smiling on my phone, I just lost it.
Suddenly, a million things went through my mind. I thought about something terrible having happened to my son, such as someone kidnapping him, and I also thought about all of my mistakes. I thought about how my first reaction when I couldn’t find him was to ground him from games and how I can be quick to get irritated and snap at him. I also thought about what a sweet, loving and good boy I have, and that I need to appreciate him way more than I do on a daily basis.
I went into full panic attack mode.
The fear. The guilt. I couldn’t stop the tears as people were calling out his name. Shortly after, my husband texted that he found him, telling me that my son had been playing in a barrel ride with another child, which is why I didn’t see him when I searched that area before. I couldn’t stop crying as he was walking toward me and I hugged him so tightly. As we drove home, my husband asked why I was so quiet. “I’m just humbled,” I replied as I was holding back tears.