Do you have a memory of being lost/separated from your parents when you were little? At the mall? An amusement park?
I can't think of too many. But I do remember getting on the school bus - I think it must have been first grade, and I was new to the whole bus thing. The ride was OK, school went OK... and then I walked out the front door at the end of the day to find an endless row of school buses. I can remember a sinking feeling and a sudden jolt of fear. I had no idea which one was mine. How would I ever get home?
Weather has been a bit nicer, and we had a beach day in York, Maine recently. Daniel loves to run to the water, and back. It's way too cold for much actual swimming to be going on... but there's lots of running and digging in the sand. At one point I watched as he ran to the water, spun - and started marching off down the beach in the opposite direction from where we were sitting. I heard some family members speculating that he was going to check out the sandcastle that this little girl was building. But something about his body language struck me and I thought: He doesn't see us. If you think about it, turn yourself around a couple times on a huge beach full of people and it could be pretty easy to lose track. I took off after him, finally yelling his name. He turned, and it's at that point I saw his face crumple as he started to cry. He was scared.
He seems to be over it now. But it's me who still gets a little squeeze of the heart every time I think about it. And I'm now wondering about how to have the discussions about what to do if you get lost, and stranger danger, and so on without freaking out the 3.5 year old (or Mommy) in the process.