Kid Slipped Away From You? Share Your Story!

After yesterday’s story about a 5-year-old who slipped away from his mom and rode the subway alone — emerging just fine — here’s a great idea that came from a comment below:

Let’s share our stories of when WE lost our kids for a short time. So much is made of any time a child goes missing – including those statistics you hear about hundreds of kids disappearing each day – that it is good to remember that 99.999% of the time they pop right back up. (And that perfectly fine parents lose track of their kids from time to time.)

Here’s my story: A couple years ago our family of four was on 34th ssyrszyskz
Street – yes, the street with the miracle, but about a block from Macy’s.  We’d been looking for backpacks at K-Mart and, finding nothing great, had emerged onto the sidewalk and were trying to decide where to look next. I took our older son, then 10, to a shop across the street and thought my husband was hanging onto the younger one, who was 8. My husband thought I took both. So when we met back up and there were only three of us, I became (yes, Free-Range me) hysterical.


We looked and looked and I shouted his name at the top of my shaky lungs. Believe me, it is no fun having strangers stare at you as if you’ve lost your mind…or kid. Several horrible, harrowing minutes later, he came walking down the street, asking us, “Where were you?”

We asked him the same thing. Upon somehow separating from us all he’d gone back to K-Mart to look for us. He’d searched all three floors, including the bathrooms.

I told him he was the only human to EVER find the bathrooms at K-Mart.

Then we went back to backpack shopping and that was that.

Now let’s hear your story, to remind ourselves that even one of parenting’s biggest fears – being separated in a public place from your child – usually ends up with a big sigh of relief. And, when possible, ice cream.  – Lenore


67 Responses to Kid Slipped Away From You? Share Your Story!

  1. twicka April 17, 2009 at 12:48 am #

    I lost track of my nearly-two-year-old once…and didn’t even know he was missing!

    I had put him down for a nap in our bed and gone into the kitchen to do some dishes. About 20 minutes later, a police officer is knocking on my door, asking me if I’m missing a child.

    Of course, I said “No, my child is taking a nap.”

    To which the officer said, “You might want to double-check that.” I did, and to my horror, the bed was empty. My son had gotten up and made an escape while I was 15 feet away with my head buried in the dishwasher!

    He’d gotten about half a block before the lunchers at the pub across the street spotted him, brought him in, gave him a cookie and called the police.

    When I collected him, he was happy, safe and chocolate-smeared in the back of the police car!

    I’m lucky that I was spared the horror of knowing my child was missing for a few minutes, but it was a totally bizarre (and slightly humiliating) experience that worked out just fine.

    He’s nearly 6 now and luckily I haven’t lost track of him since!

  2. Tam April 17, 2009 at 12:59 am #

    The first time I lost my son, we were at the shopping mall. My kids are twins, and as young toddlers they tended to go full tilt in different directions. My son followed another kid with a balloon out of the play area and then veered into a store. An employee brought him out just as I was getting worried. After that, I stuck to play areas I could monitor more easily until they were older and had somewhat less forward momentum.

    The big scare, though, happened when my twins were 4, on the annual preschool field trip to the zoo. My husband was unable to attend, so I took the kids. We quickly met up with two friends and their two moms and had a lovely morning exploring the zoo and admiring the animals.

    The preschool families were to meet up for lunch, so a few minutes before the appointed time, we moms stopped to check the map–where were we, where did we need to go. When I looked up, I did the automatic kid headcount and came up with 3 instead of 4–my son was not with us.

    When it quickly became apparent that he was separated from us, the other moms (sisters) sprang into action. One gathered the 3 remaining kids and moved to a central location, found the phone number on the map and called security to alert them for the lost child. The other mom helped me search–we’d been standing at a crossroads of paths and had no idea which way my son might have wandered.

    I ran for several minutes calling his name, checking back with the mom on the phone to see if they’d found him. I remember trying not to think about the secondary gate not far away and how easy it would be for someone to take him away–and I remember the pragmatic calculation of this and thinking that I should be more *frightened* than I was. But even in that moment I thought the likelihood of kidnapping was low, and my biggest concern was how my son was feeling, not being able to find me.

    It was maybe 10-15 minutes before I encountered one of the zoo employees holding my son’s hand, coming toward the place where the phone-wielding mom was camped. The alert had been broadcast to the employees, and the first one who spotted him brought him back–I can only imagine that they handle this type of situation quite frequently. Still, the relief I felt was probably even more than when both twins were born healthy! We went on to have a calm but grateful lunch, and a very pleasant afternoon exploring the zoo.

    BOTH my kids have been great about staying together in crowded public places since then. And I know that while opportunistic kidnappings happen, it’s not a foregone conclusion. MOST people want to be helpful, not evil.

  3. Valerie April 17, 2009 at 1:02 am #

    Ok, story time!

    My husband and I were going for an evening walk last fall, planning to do a 1.5 mile lap around the large neighbourhood park. My son (14) decided to come with us on his bike, and our daughter (10) was going to stay and play with her neighbour friends, but at the last minute grabbed her bike and came along. It was about 8pm, and we hadn’t realised how quickly the darkness would fall, as we were still used to summer, when it was light until 9:30pm.

    Our son rode around pretty independently, but our daughter stayed close to us on her bike. Once we got to the park, she started riding ahead of us to enjoy the hills, and would wait for us at the bottom of the hills.

    At the bottom of one hill, she just kept riding. We expected she’d stop and wait for us up ahead, but as we continued to walk, we never came upon her. At about the half-way mark through the park, we were starting to get worried, and the twilight was getting very dim. At the three-quarter mark, our son zipped past us on his bike, and we asked him if he’d seen his sister. He hadn’t, but rode off to look at her. That’s when we were really worried. We started running to the entrance of the park, where we hoped she’d wait for us. By now it was 8:30 and fully dark, and she wasn’t waiting at the entrance of the park.

    I wanted to call her name, but this worried me. Nothing tells mysterious frightening strangers “there’s a lost, vulnerable and frightened girl in the park and oh yes, here’s her name so you can lure her in and pretend to be taking her to parents” better than frantic parents running around calling her name. I know stranger danger is overrated, but in the dark in a large urban park, it’s scary.

    I stayed at the entrance of the park. My husband started running around the park again. I used my cell phone to call neighbours to ask them if my daughter had returned home, but no one was answering their phone. I was wondering if I should call the police to get some help searching the dark park. I was also about to call a coworker who lived a few blocks away, wondering if she or her husband would be willing to come in a car to help search the park, since it would take me way too long to walk home and get the car.

    At about 8:45, my son rode up with my daughter, who was crying and really upset. He’d found her at the half way mark, the farthest away she could be, stopped on her bike and bawling because she couldn’t find us. She remained with me, and we cuddled together there in the park entrance, while he rode off to find his dad.

    My daughter explained that she had kept riding, expecting to find us. It never occurred to her that since we were on foot, we were much slower than her. Once she had made a complete lap of the park, I would have expected her to have waited for us, knowing that she was ahead of us. But she just kept riding, but not far enough or fast enough to have caught up with us.

    Her big brother really saved the day, being on a bike so he was able to travel around the large park much faster than we were able to, on foot. I had expected him to make 2 laps around the park and then ride home, so it was fortunate he’d made 3 laps around the park and was still there when we were realising she was “missing.”

    We have resolved to a) pay closer attention to when it gets dark and b) be clearer with her about our expectations. If you’re going to ride ahead, wait for us where we can see you. In a few years, she’ll be independent like her brother and be able to do her own few laps around the park and ride home alone. But if she’s at a stage in her life where she’ll get worried and stop and cry instead of proactively find us, then we’ll give her guidelines that will save everybody’s sanity while she works to gain that confidence she needs.

    I’m a fan of free-range parenting, and I don’t want my ten year old to feel like she needs to stay in visible range of her parents at all times. But having her lost and crying in the dark demonstrates that she’s still working towards independence. We will provide guidelines to allow her to feel safe, and willingly adjust those guidelines as she’s ready to expand. She sees her brother’s freedom, and knows it’s available to her as she’s ready to handle it.

    It is interesting that the two children had very different reactions to the exact same experience. My 14 year old: 2 laps around the park–whee, let’s go for another! My 10 year old: 2 laps around the park–waaaah, where’s Mommy? I do think she’s old enough to have handled the situation better, and we will continue to work with her to help her get there.

  4. Uly April 17, 2009 at 1:03 am #

    I lost my older niece once when she was exactly where she was supposed to be. SHE didn’t get lost, I just couldn’t find her! This was at the SICM, so I walked all around that floor, found a friend of mine, and told her to grab Ana if she saw her and call me while I ran down to the front desk – it was a day off from school, so it was *really* crowded and she was just three at the time.

    Then I walked around the floor another time and – hey, she was right where I’d left her! Whoops.

    Lost my younger niece once at the Washington Market playground, which has no gates at all that I can see. I’m still not sure how it happened. The girls were playing with each other, and I was pumping water for them to splash around *in*. I stopped to put down my bag, and looked back up and – the little one (not even three yet!) was gone. I looked where she had been. I looked in between where she had been and where I was. I looked all around. I walked over to her big sister (now 5) and asked her where her sister was. “I don’t know”. Well, gee, thanks Ana! I spun around, propped Ana up on a wall, and told her not to move until I got back. (I trust Ana not to randomly leave playgrounds but I felt I shouldn’t lose track of two children at the same time unless they happened to be together.) And then I headed towards the little kid area of the playground, which is close to the street exit of the park. And she did turn out to be there, stopped by a nanny. Never did figure out what, exactly, she thought she was doing… and I’m still not sure how she got past me in the space of 10 seconds while I was putting down my bag!

    But she was fine. Another adult had stopped her and didn’t let her go until she was safely with her own grown-up, that is, me. (

  5. Mike April 17, 2009 at 1:06 am #

    We went on a cruise two years ago, I don’t want to give anyone free advertising, but let us say that there was a large mouse involved. One of the things my then 5 year old son, Max, enjoyed was running around the track on the deck. The track was covered at both the bow and the stern and he thought the resulting tunnels were very cool to go through. I had to agree because you could see a lot of the workings of the ship – lots of pipes and hull plates, that sort of thing. We’d done this several times and me being the brilliant and fun dad that I am thought it would be really fun to start at opposite ends of the tunnel and meet in the middle. (Can you see where this is going yet?)

    Max started running into the tunnel and I quickly cut over to the other side and headed in to meet him. I’m not sure what happened, but I got all the way through the tunnel and no Max. I think he got scared and decided to follow me the other way, but I had been running pretty fast so that I wouldn’t leave him alone very long.

    I started to really panic. Here I was on this huge boat and my five year old was missing. Of course the first thought that goes through my head was – didn’t I just see large decorative openings in the sides of the tunnel? Openings that an enterprising five year old could crawl through. I immediately ran back the other way around the deck and after criss crossing each other a couple times Max and I finally met up. When he saw me he ran up to me and said something like, ‘Lets not split up again.” His whole time gone from me was probably about 2 minutes, but it felt like forever.

  6. cathymccaughan April 17, 2009 at 1:12 am #

    Our entire extended family went to Disney in December of 2000. We were all barely inside the Animal Kingdom and it was my first time in this particular area of the Magic Kingdom so I confess I was doing more looking around than looking after my children. Apparently Doug and my parents were doing the same thing. We were walking happily until we realized 9-y-o Tommy was missing. What went through my mind may upset other parents but I’ll say it anyway. If it had been any of the other children I would have jumped to child abduction hysterics and been in the park office demanding to see the exit videotapes. Because it was Tommy, my Asperger child, I looked around and saw a fence containing the alligators and other wild animals. I wondered if Tommy felt some urge to touch an alligator. I looked another direction and wondered if he’d crawled under equipment to see how it worked. I was hysterical that he had felt like he just had to do something horribly dangerous.

    Doug quickly alerted a park employee and my parents took over entertaining and watching the other two children. I ran around the park like a chicken with its’ head cut off. I looked under racks of shirts and stuck my head in employee only areas. The employees stood back and let me have my freak-out. When I was out of breath enough to pause and survey the area, I noticed something remarkable. At the entrance to every store, ride, restaurant and restroom was a Disney employee standing guard and reporting in on a walkie-talkie that their area had been checked. I accepted that my efforts were pointless and returned to my parents, who were anchored where we last saw Tommy.

    The family was accompanied by a Disney employee who was explaining where each area was as it was reported on. She talked calm and slow and kept putting her hand on my shoulder. Finally someone reported in that he’d been spotted on a park video camera. We all raced to the dinosaur ride. Tommy was standing at the end of the ride with a big grin on his face. Apparently he had looked at a park map, decided what he wanted to ride and done it! I was a basket case and demanded that we leave. The park employee insisted that we ride one ride together. This woman was determined that we would have a happy memory of our experiences at Disney. We were escorted to the front of the line and all boarded the dinosaur ride with our personal park employee. After the ride the employee handed us the group picture that the park takes during a scary moment in the ride. Tommy had known a dinosaur head would pop out and was hiding his head. The employee held up the picture of everyone but Tommy (even though he sat right beside us) and said “Look, even when he’s with you, he’s not with you.” Truer words were never spoken. We went back to the hotel and I never did see the Animal Kingdom area of the park.

  7. Uly April 17, 2009 at 1:12 am #

    Incidentally, the nieces have had our Subway Rules (which are easily expanded for all situations where one might get lost) drilled into their heads:

    1. If you are on the train, and the grown-up(s) are NOT on the train, get off at the next stop and wait. The grown-ups will come to you.

    2. If you are off the train, and the grown-ups are ON the train, stand still and wait. DO NOT GET ON THE NEXT TRAIN. The grown-ups will come to you.

    3. If you’re just lost, in general, stand still and wait. The grown-ups will come to you.

    4. If you’re exceedingly lost and grown-ups haven’t shown up, it’s okay to ask a store employee or a cop or another grown-up to call security to have us paged. (Ana’s learning my cell phone number right now.) Do not hold anybody’s hand or go wandering off – there’s a good chance we’ll still show up exactly where you are.

    The point is that if the kid’s looking for the adults, and the adults are looking for the kid, you’ll both pass each other several times and start to cry. So the kid waits and the grown-ups look.

  8. Jen April 17, 2009 at 1:22 am #

    I have one of those kids that manages to get lost everywhere we go. I’ve lost him so many times that I tend not to freak out about it anymore – my husband (stepdad, and fairly new to the parenting game) is convinced every time we lose him that he has been stolen.

    Probably the most harrowing of those experiences was losing him in Disneyland when he was 2. I was carrying his baby brother through Tarzan’s Tree House, and J got ahead of us. I kept thinking I’d catch up to him, but I got to the end, and he wasn’t there. Turns out, he’d had so much fun the first time through, he’d decided to go through again, all by himself. By the time he found me at the end, I was sobbing, with a frantic Disneyland employee helping me to search for him. He was so excited, and couldn’t understand why I was so upset.

    When he was a few months younger, he slipped out of the house (having figured out the door lock and the child proof doorknob cover by that time – he was barely 2) while I was putting his baby brother down for a nap. He followed an older child through our apartment complex. I emerged to find the front door open and my child nowhere to be found. A neighbor had seen him walk by, but had not stopped him (that one, I can’t get over – the kid was 2!). I flagged down a police officer in the complex on other business, rallied some neighbors, and we started to comb the complex. I found him on the second level of our complex, walking around as if nothing was amiss. Needless to say, I was frantic, but again, he was fine.

    (Now that I’ve made myself look like the most inattentive parent in the world) let me say that only once or twice has he gotten upset over being lost – usually I am much more upset than he is. And yes, he has always returned, safe and sound.

  9. Brian April 17, 2009 at 1:35 am #

    My second son was a hider when he was younger. At age 2 or 3 he was with his mother at the drug store. Suddenly he is not there. She looks up and down all the rows and cannot find him. After telling the manager, the store is locked down. A employee walks the outside perimeter to make sure he is not outside. Still no one can find him.

    Suddenly another child of maybe 8 years says he thinks he knows where he might be. This boy had spotted a closet door in a small back corridor. They opened the closet and there was my son. The older boys mother asked how he new where my son was and he said that’s where he would hide.

    Kid to the rescue FTW

  10. venessa April 17, 2009 at 1:44 am #


    Early last summer, I was grocery shopping with my 4 children, one of whom was newly born. We were walking out of the store together. I got out of the doors and was ready to cross into the parking lot when I heard my oldest (7 years old at the time) shouting for me. She had gotten distracted by something near the checkout and didn’t follow me out as I thought she had. My heart stopped dead when I realized that I had almost left her! Of course, I would have noticed by the time I had gotten into the car, but in my head I could see her dashing into the parking lot to catch up without looking for traffic, or wandering around the store aimlessly looking for me…

    And this past Halloween we were waiting at the end of a sidewalk for our three oldest children to gather some candy at a house. Well, somehow, our 2 year old slipped by us without us seeing her. Luckily, some other parents saw her run by and hollered to us. She had only gotten half way down the block but that was far enough for me!

    I should say that with four kids, I “lose sight” of them all of time. We visit lots of parks and museums and I try to give the as much freedom as is age appropriate. I am hyper-aware of their voices and frequently scan the area to take role. But the above 2 situations were so unexpected to me that I was completely terrified!

  11. WendyW April 17, 2009 at 2:06 am #

    I have lost each of my boys once. Both were about 2yo at the time.

    When my older son was 2, I, my daughter, and my son took a cross-country trip along with my sister and her two kids. We stopped for lunch at a huge truck stop in the middle of nowhere. It was one of those places that had a sit-down restaurant, a gift shop, a convenience store, an arcade, and a shower/TV area for the truckers. After we ordered our food in the restaurant, I took all the kids to the gift shop to look around and stretch our legs. My 9yo nephew offered to escort the 2yo while my daughter and I decided about some state thimbles she was collecting along our journey. A few minutes later, my nephew and son returned, then left again. When my daughter had made her choice, I looked up and realized my nephew was there, and my son was NOT! I took a quick look down the adjoining aisles, then went into panic mode. I sent the kids to all corners of the store, sent one child to go check the table in case he had returned to my sister, and headed for the truckers area myself. I went outside to look around the gas pumps. My heart was beating like crazy- I had visions of someone having stolen him and taking off down the freeway, knowing the odds of finding him in that case would be nil. I was envisioning the phone call I would have to make to my husband explaining how I had lost his son. Within 10 minutes, my son was found in the arcade, not 20 feet from where I had been. He was in one of the driving games that was designed to look like the gamer is IN a car, so we had been unable to see him. I didn’t confess this incident to my husband until MANY years later!

    My younger son escaped from the house when he was 2. We lived in a small rural town, in a small neighborhood that consisted of two cul-de-sacs and the street connecting them. My older son, about age 7 at the time, was allowed to ride his bike around the neighborhood alone. On this day, I was in the basement doing laundry, and the 7yo asked for permission to go ride his bike. I let him go. Immediately after he left, the 2yo came down the stairs carrying his shoes- he wanted to go out too. I put his shoe on him, but told him he could not go out until I came upstairs. ( I realized later that telling a non-verbal child no, while putting on his shoes, was sending very mixed signals!) About 5 minutes later, the doorbell rang. I went upstairs to find two neighbor kids who informed me that my 2yo had been sighted walking up the street. I went out to get him. I passed the other kids’ dad, a Deputy Sheriff, and asked him if he has seen which way my older son went, thinking the younger would have followed the older. He directed me up the adjoining street. As I walked up that street, I saw my younger son. The paved bike path (which also crossed our back yard) crossed the street there and dead-ended alongside another neighbor’s yard, and my son was coming up the path away from the dead end. The neighbor in that house (a social worker) was standing in her front yard, with her arms crossed, and just watching me. I retrieved my son and went home.

    The next day I received a call from Child Protection. They had gotten a call accusing me of “inadequate supervision” of my children, because my “2yo was wandering the streets, and I did not know the whereabouts of my 7yo”!! We had to put up with an investigation from CPS, which never came to anything. I was (and still am!) IRATE that neither neighbor bothered to take my son by the hand and walk him home. They both knew who he was and where he lived. Neither of these neighbors would ever have considered encouraging “Free Range” behavior. One had an 8yo and 5yo that were not even allowed out in their own yard without a parent.

  12. SheWhoPicksUpToys April 17, 2009 at 2:13 am #

    One peaceful, beautiful spring Sunday afternoon when #4 was 3, Daddy promised her to go on a walk with her “later.” I can’t remember everything that happened, but I think she went to sleep so he decided to go on a walk alone and then take her for one later. When she got up, she asked me where Daddy was. I told her he went for a walk. I just assumed she would go back to playing by herself for a while and didn’t think any more of it.

    Ten minutes later, a lady shows up at the door, holding #4 by the hand. She explained that she was minding a raffle table in front of a nearby church and saw my daughter walking by herself down the opposite sidewalk of our EXTREMELY busy street and out of concern, crossed over and asked her if she knew where she lived. #4 brought her back to our house with no problem. Thankfully, the lady was VERY nice and understanding about the situation. When I asked #4 why she’d gone walking down the street herself, she explained that she went looking for Daddy, to go on a walk with him.

  13. Gabe April 17, 2009 at 2:32 am #

    Something like this happened with my son was when he was 4. His mother and I were awakened to the sound of knocking at around 6:30 one Sunday morning. Two police officers were at the door.

    “Do you know where your child is?” One of them asked.

    “Yes, he’s right here behind me, watching cartoons,” I reply, point at my son.

    “Let me rephrase that,” the officer said, “do you know where your son has been?”

    I felt a lump develop in my throat as the officer described how he spotted my 4 year old walking down the sidewalk, about 3 blocks from our home. That when my son saw the police car, he quickly turned around and walked back home. Then when the officers initially knocked, my son answered and said “everything is fine here” and shut the door.

    The officers asked if they could take a look in our apartment to make sure everything was OK – which they quickly realized was the case. After some questioning from the police and his mother and I, my son revealed the clutch of change in his hand and admitted that he just wanted to go to the store to buy some candy.

    I’m confident that had the police not scared him into coming home sooner, he would have done just that and we wouldn’t have been the wiser.

    We replaced the deadbolt with one that required a key to unlock it from both sides later that same day.

  14. cagey April 17, 2009 at 2:55 am #

    Just a few months ago, I was at Target. I let my 3.5 year old walk and of course, he kept wandering away from me. Before I knew it, I could not find him. Then, I got paged. Sigh.

    A kind couple took it upon themselves to take him up to the front. Turns out, he had just been one aisle over from me. A small part of me was scared, but another, much bigger part of me was irritated that the couple took my child to the front of the store without bothering to see if the very responsible mother (ME, dammit) was actually nearby, after all.

    The part that bothered me most, is that I was not really freaked out. Like, I felt that I SHOULD have been freaked out, but realistically, I knew he was in the store somewhere. I just needed to find him.

  15. Merlin Silk April 17, 2009 at 3:11 am #

    I lost our son once at a Costco when he was about four. Mommy was looking for something somewhere and he went with me. He is a TV addict and, close to the entrance, stood there, head up, mesmerized in front of the wall of TVs, watching.
    I looked away for – I promise, no more than – 10 seconds to check a price, looked back to the TVs – and he was gone!
    Had he wandered out, did he decide to go to the car? I checked with the guard at the exit, he did not remember anything. What to do? Call security – what is he wearing – – – – I don’t know, I’m a guy. But security is alerted and before checking outside I have to find my wife first to help her search. Going back to where I know she would be, I encounter them both – he had just decided that he had enough TV and went back to Mom – and he knew exactly where she was.
    But did he have to decide that during these few seconds I was looking away??

  16. Amy April 17, 2009 at 3:23 am #

    Why does 2 y.o. seem to be the magic age for wandering away?

    The day we moved into our previous house, I was busy washing dishes and putting them away, my aunt was helping unpack, and I thought my husband was watching our toddler.

    It wasn’t until he came downstairs and asked where she was that I realized that wasn’t the case. We looked everywhere in the house and for whatever reason decided to check the garage. Bingo! The garage door was open (the button was toddler height). We found her about 4 doors down walking down the sidewalk.

    Somehow she managed, in the short time we were in the house, to figure out the best way to escape and explore the neighborhood. Needless to say, we raised the button in the garage so it was well out of her reach. She never really tried exploring on her own like that again, she must have satisfied her curiosity that day.

  17. Ender April 17, 2009 at 3:30 am #

    The very nature of the question is worrying to me. We’re supposed to be here on Free Range Kids, and the question implies that people here will have, at most, a single story about when they didn’t know the exact location of their child.

    When I was a kid any trip, anywhere, always resulted in one of us kids getting separated from our mum. I don’t see how that can’t happen with three boys and one mum. Happened every time.

    And like someone’s subway rules in a comment above, we had rules – 1) don’t leave the store/mall/park 2) mum is tall with bright red hair – it can’t be hard to find her 3) if that doesn’t work, find the information desk or someone in a uniform, and tell them.

    Guess what? Not a single one of us ever got abducted or anything. What’s more, loads of other people my age remember similar childhoods.

    Kids getting brought home by police for trying to buy candy? What the diddly? Back in my day police only got involved if you tried to get candy *without* paying for it.

    And now the poor kid is locked in the house 24/7? Let’s hope he works out how to escape to the candy store through a window before he needs to take a similar route in the event of fire.

    And what parks are you people taking your kids to? You can’t call out your kid’s name because that alerts the resident evil-doers that there’s kids to be abused? Sheeeeeet.

    If these are the parents who want their kids to be free range – what on earth are the over-protective parents up to?

  18. Valerie April 17, 2009 at 4:10 am #

    Ender says: And what parks are you people taking your kids to? You can’t call out your kid’s name because that alerts the resident evil-doers that there’s kids to be abused? Sheeeeeet.

    It’s a valid question!

    Yes, I do aspire to be a Free Range Parent, but yes, I do admit to carefully thinking over whether to call out my child’s name in a park in the dark. Just because I’m reading this blog and participating by commenting does not mean that I’ve conquered all my fears.

    An urban park–well, specifically our urban park–is a very different place in daylight than it is in the dark. This I know by direct experience, and by seeing the litter that’s there in the morning. Was I right to hesitate to call her name? I don’t know, and that’s part of why I included it in my story. These are the things we parents fuss about, even more so when we’re stressed.

    I as a parent am a work in progress, and as a free-range parent, I’m a work in progress. My daughter, too, is a work in progress. We’re all working towards the way we want to be, or the way we think we should be, and we’ll all wind up… somewhere.

    Ender also said: If these are the parents who want their kids to be free range – what on earth are the over-protective parents up to?

    Bah, those are the parents that are calling CPS when the 2-year-old walks by instead of gently redirecting the little one towards home.

  19. Tara April 17, 2009 at 4:12 am #

    Five years ago, when my oldest was 4 and I had one year old twins, we were in the bathroom at Walmart. On our way out, my 4 year old skipped ahead of me, and I called out to her to wait for me “by the door.” It took me a few minutes to manuver my bulky double stroller out the snaky bathroom entrance, and when I emerged, she was nowhere in sight. My gut feeling was that she misunderstood me and went to the store entrance, but which one? There are two, and they are on opposite ends of the store. Not wanting to waste time, I went to Customer Service (which was right next to the bathroom) and told them I was missing a child, what she was wearing, etc. I was very calm. Then they called a “Code Adam” and I remembered poor little Adam Walsh, and a feeling of panic started to wash over me. I managed to stay outwardly calm, though, and in less than a minute, one of the greeters was bringing my daughter back to me. She had done exactly what I thought, and gone ahead to the store entrance, thinking that was what I meant by “the door.” Lesson learned: Be very specific with small children.
    Fast forward 3 years. The twins were now 4 themselves. My entire family, including my mom, arrived at a large Tampa hotel. It was dinner time, and the kids saw a buffet meal in the lobby and wanted to eat. We told them that we would bring our bags up to the suite and then come back down for food. So we went up the elevator to the ninth floor, and found our suite. My husband decided to stay in the suite and unpack, while my mom and I brought the kids back down to the lobby for food. In the lobby, my son decided there was nothing good to eat, and told me he wanted to go back to the room. I said, wait until I get the girls settled with grandma and I will bring you back up stairs. I turned for a minute or two to help the other kids, and when I looked back, my son was gone. I checked around the lobby for a minute or two, but I knew he had got on the elevator to try to go back to the room on his own. My mom was panicking, thinking he couldn’t possibly find his way back, and he could be anywhere in the hotel by then. I told her to wait in the lobby with the girls in case he came back there, and I would go check the room. Sure enough, he was back in the suite with my husband. My husband said he was just sitting there and heard a little knock at the door, and there was the boy. He found his way back to the exact room without any problems at all. When I went back down to relieve my poor worried mother, she was amazed at his sense of direction. Big sister (7 at the time) bragged that SHE could find her way back alone too, so we said, Okay show us the way. We followed her onto the elevator, and she rememebered the correct floor number, but after that she made a bunch of wrong turns, and couldn’t find the room. So that’s how I discovered my son’s amazing sense of direction.
    A year later, I lost him at Disney World, and didn’t panic at all, because I knew he would be fine, and he was. He had gone back to the last place he had seen me, and was a bit irked with me when I found him. In his eyes, *I* was the one who was lost, not him.

  20. Vickie April 17, 2009 at 4:26 am #

    I first lost my son when he was a day old, in the hospital! (I’d had a c-section, and was still a bit groggy.) A woman walked in with the proper looking security badge, and said, “Hi I’m Dr. Jones, here to do your son’s circumcision.”

    I didn’t recognize her from my OB practice, and said so, but she said “I remember you.” So, I let her take my one day old son out of the room…guess how freaked out I felt when my regular OB walked in 2 minutes later, to “circumcise my son”?

    Needless to say, I panicked and told her someone had just taken him to do the same thing. My OB got a determined look on her face and said “I’ll be right back.” I was left a basket case in my room for what seemed like forever, but a nurse eventually wandered in and sat with me while I waited to see if my son had been abducted!

    My OB eventually returned guaranteeing that *she herself had done the circumcision, but a new Dr. from another practice had nearly done him by mistake! (We have a very common last name.) The new Dr. came back in to apologize, insisting that I looked “familiar”.

    Later, I met with a very nervous hospital staff administrator who probably expected to be sued on the spot. I told her I wasn’t the litigious type, but they needed to get the kinks in their system worked out!

    As for me, my lesson learned was to trust that “Huh?” instinct when something doesn’t seem right. The Dr. had the pink clearance badge that meant she was allowed access to the babies, but looking back, I shouldn’t have let that badge override my sense that something wasn’t right. I’m proud to say I didn’t get hysterical back then, and now, it seems like a cakewalk when he gets lost. I just start calculating what went wrong and where he might be. Whew!

  21. SheWhoPicksUpToys April 17, 2009 at 5:32 am #

    Ender, I’m confused about what worries you. Free Range doesn’t mean that you aren’t concerned when your very young children whom you DON’T believe capable of being on their own, disappear without your consent or knowledge. Free Range is about understanding when and where your kids ARE capable, not about denying that not all kids are capable of taking caring themselves at very young ages, or in large crowds, or what have you.

    The child who got “locked in the house 24/7” (or rather, whose parents put a lock on the door so that they could sleep without worrying about him) was FOUR YEARS OLD. The Free Range ethic, as I understand it, has nothing to do with not worrying about your four year old wandering the neighborhood alone without permission.

  22. Evan April 17, 2009 at 7:34 am #

    When my son was four, he was out on a nature walk through the woods in a state park, with a group that organizes activities for special needs kids (he has high-functioning autism). Apparently at the end of the walk, the group turned right and he turned left, and somehow none of the adults present noticed until they arrived back at the parking lot, where we were waiting to pick him up.

    I would really prefer never to experience anything like the next ten minutes again, please. But the woman in charge of the outing handled it very well, handing off the remaining kids to their parents and then fanning out with the rest of her staff to search for him, all of them in cell phone contact with each other.

    He turned up almost immediately at the ranger station. He’d happily walked along the road looking for more nature-trail markers for a while, and then a ranger had spotted him. He was happy to see us and had no idea anything was wrong. After calmly alerting her staff that he was fine, the woman running the show put her cell phone away and collapsed in weeping hysterics. I found it genuinely impressive that she was able to wait until an appropriate moment to freak out.

    Anyway, bottom line, it was a genuinely scary and dangerous situation and lots of terrible things could’ve happened, but, you know… none of them did.

  23. geekmom April 17, 2009 at 8:50 am #

    My son is a free-range kid by nature and has never been too concerned about staying close by his parents; my daughter was a nervous kid who always followed the rules. Both of them have gone off on their own while our family was on vacation.

    The first time, my son was four and we had rented the ground floor suite of a B&B in a fairly busy residential neighbourhood near a beach. There were six adults in the suite, but one morning my son woke up earlier than everyone else, unlocked the front door and went outside. When we all woke up and realized he was nowhere to be found, there was a huge sense of panic, particularly from my mother who tends to imagine all the worst possible outcomes of any crisis situation. Fortunately, we located our little explorer before the fellow next door went out for a drive — my son had decided to climb into the cab of the pickup truck parked in the next driveway over.

    Fast forward to the day after an overnight flight to London the following summer. We arrived at our charming hotel on a very busy road near Gatwick airport, checked into our room (which was in a converted garage behind the hotel building) and took a nap. Again, there were a lot of adults in a small suite but my son managed to disappear while we slept. I was woken a couple of hours later by my stepmother, in a huge panic because my son (now five) was nowhere to be found. He could easily have opened the door and wandered the neighbourhood, but eventually we discovered that he had crawled underneath my bed and gone back to sleep.

    In both situations I think I’d have panicked less if my son didn’t have Asperger syndrome, which in his case means he has a very low sense of danger and might have walked out into the street if he saw something interesting on the other side.

    His older sister, on the other hand, had a very sheltered upbringing for the first ten years or so of her life. I had the usual fears of abduction, etc. She herself helped me to realize how unhelpful this was to her growing independence. When she was 11, she begged to be allowed to go to a local mall after school on Fridays with some (older, very responsible) friends. I realized I was at a crossroads where I could either choose to continue being protective and restricting her independence, or I could find a way to feel comfortable with the idea of her being somewhere on her own. We decided to buy her a cellphone and set some sensible ground rules about where she should go while out on her own. I quickly realized that she was more than ready for this step and she’s continued to show her maturity and ability to look after herself. Last year, when she was 12 I was able to confidently allow her to explore on her own for an hour or two while our family was in Tokyo. She had 2000 yen in her pocket, knew where & when she should meet us and in a pinch she could easily have found her way back to our hotel. I realized that so many other parents wouldn’t have felt comfortable giving their child this type of experience, and that I had come a very long way since the days when I wouldn’t let her out of our sight. She has wonderful memories now of being on her own in Japan, soaking up the sights and sounds of a foreign (but very safe) city.

  24. BPFH April 17, 2009 at 9:01 am #

    I lost *my* parents, twice. 🙂

    Time Number One was in Chicago in 1979. (I was six years old and very into dinosaurs at the time–we went to the Field Museum, of course.) We were in our hotel, going up to our room, and waiting for the elevators to arrive. I saw the doors open first, and ran in… and the doors closed between me and my parents. Well, I’d been asking my dad to take me up to the top floor so I could look out, and I was six, and suddenly the parents *aren’t* *there*. Of *course* I went to the top floor. Then I went back to the 12th floor, where I somehow (and to this day I don’t have any idea how) managed to convince the Spanish-speaking (!) maid to let me into the room, which is where my parents found me. They were frantic; I didn’t get it. 😀

    Time Number Two, Toronto, 1983. The parents took me (and left my brother, age 2, and my sister, age 3 months, behind). We were on the subway on our way out toward the Ontario Science Centre, and the same thing happened–I got on the train, and the doors closed between us. Fortunately I’d listened when they’d been discussing which station we needed to get off at, and did so. That time, they were much calmer.

    …and then my daughter did it to me. Her brother had played baseball for two years, and she’d been in t-ball that year, and they were doing the awards ceremony at the end of the season. She went out onto the field with her team. Afterward… I couldn’t find her. Until I went over by the concession stand, where she was trying to talk her way into a bag of popcorn.

  25. Lori April 17, 2009 at 10:54 am #

    Well, I have lost my children several times – each. I have three. Multiple times I lost my middle daughter in a store. I learned to just alert the store personnel to watch the front of the store so she couldn’t leave without being seen and then carefully look for her down the aisles. Worked fine, though the employees panicked.

    We did lose my then 8-year-old in downtown Atlanta. We were leaving a theater with crowds of people, walking to our cars. We had driven 2 and luckily we figured out before we left the lot that he was in neither car. My husband about came unglued, but I thought back to the last time I had seen him and guessed that he had turned instead of going straight across the street. Sure enough, he was with a family at the corner.

    My middle daughter – then 2 – wandered out while I was putting the baby down for a nap. By the time I woke up and realized she had left, there was a cop car driving down my street with her. She had been trying to stop traffic on busy street near our house. We installed an alarm system with voice announcements of open doors to keep track of her.

    There was also the time we looked everywhere for her, had half the neighborhood looking and called the police. She had fallen asleep in a box in the back of the van under the lid. We had looked once and not seen her there.

  26. Leanne April 17, 2009 at 11:06 am #

    I lost my 2-year old at R.E.I. last year. She darted one way, I went looking the other, and realized she was GONE. Slightly embarrassed and rather alarmed, I told a worker and he quickly went and locked the doors of the store and made an announcement to the whole store. I am not joking when I say that it took about 30 seconds for someone to find her. All was well.

  27. Bob Davis April 17, 2009 at 1:39 pm #

    Back in the mid-60’s I delivered the LA Times in Duarte, Calif. (probably best known for the City of Hope medical center). One of my subscribers was at the end of a long dead-end street. One morning I drove down the street and noticed a small child on the porch of a house in the middle of the block. This was around 6 AM. When I drove back from tossing the paper, I saw the child walking down the street, heading for the “live” end. Fortunately, I remembered which house the kid came from, and led him (or her) back there and knocked on the door, delivering the “stray” to a rather groggy parent. It’s rather amazing how much ground a toddler can cover!

  28. Vicki April 17, 2009 at 2:06 pm #

    I lost my six year old daughter last summer for about an hour, I’d estimate. We had moved into our current home a year before, and she hadn’t quite gotten the address down. My ex-husband lived about 2 1/2 miles away, and we always took the same route to see him…

    Well, it was about 8am, and she usually sleeps until 10. If she awakened before that, the rule was that she would come wake me up. One morning, she decided to go see dad instead…

    The police picked her up about halfway to her dad’s house. Apparently someone driving by had called her in. She blithely told them that I let her walk there all the time, which wasn’t the case. She couldn’t remember our address, but did manage to direct them to the house without it. I was awakened by them knocking on the door.

    Thankfully, by the look on my face they realized that it was the first time she’d ever done something like that, so they didn’t call in CPS to open a case. They did, however, let me know that if it happened again they would.

    On one hand, finding her on the doorstep with the police scared me a great deal. On the other…she knew exactly where she was going, she had a cellphone on her (she did have the presence of mind to grab her sister’s cellphone apparently), and had already gotten halfway there without incident. I’m both extremely proud of her and scared witless that she’ll do it again. Not because I don’t think she would be okay, on the contrary, I know she would be fine. I’m afraid because of the warning the police gave me.

    What kind of message does that send, when people are more afraid of the police than they are of “stranger danget” and all the things society as a whole fears for our children?

  29. Gabby April 17, 2009 at 5:48 pm #

    My 2 year old ran away from my dad’s house, once, taking 3 dogs with him. He went outside, but I was busy taking care of my ailing father, so I was watching my son from the window. I lost sight of him, but was too busy to go out. First chance I got, which was just a few minutes later, I ran outside, and my son was gone. This is out in the country, no neighbors, just fields and woods and swamp. After a few minutes of frantically calling his name, one of the dogs appeared and literally led me to my son. He, and the two other dogs, were the equivalent of maybe 2-3 blocks away from the house. They walked (ran?) down a hill, through a small field, through a washed out, muddy road, over a bridge, and into another field. He must have been running the entire time I was calling his name, to be able to get so far away. Thank God for the dogs. It was like an episode of Lassie, or something. Needless to say, the kid spent a lot more time indoors after that incident. No free range for him. He’s lucky he didn’t fall into the ditch and drown.

  30. crossgirl April 17, 2009 at 9:21 pm #

    I’ve lost the same son, middle child, at a rennaisance festival, a grocery store, a Walmart and the beach. The beach was the scariest. Cocoa Beach on Florida’s east coast is vast. The shoreline goes on for miles. Following my divorce, feeling all full of myself for being a capable single mom to three boys under the age of 8, I took them, along with an adult friend over to the coast for the day. Of course all the kids had been schooled (read lectured) their entire lives about wandering off so they knew better, ha!. My main concern was keeping track of the toddler. I thought nothing of letting the six year old take his bucket to search for shells because I knew he wouldn’t go far. They’ve grown up on the beach, they know the drill. Ha! Poor kid went south with head down searching for shells, then turned around and went north, still searching and apparantly managed to walk behind our chairs and so didn’t recognize where we were. So he kept going. And going and going and going.

    I checked the bathrooms and parking lot while my friend kept the other two close in our beach spot in case Sam came back. None of us had cell phones with us because that would have just been too easy. I walked up and down asking everyone if they’d seen him with no luck so went off to find a lifeguard to call for a beach patrol cop. At that time I was ready to shut down the city. I wanted every hotel and motel on lock down because I just knew someone had snatched my child and was busy molesting him in some anonymous room. I was dead serious.

    The cop, obviously did not think this was very practical. The cop was not worried. He said this happens all the time and they hadn’t lost one yet. He followed me back to where our beach spot was, told me to stay put and that he’d come get me when they found Sam. This did not make me feel better.

    Helpless, I was left with the other two acting like losing a kid was no big deal because I didn’t want them to freak out. I also didn’t want them to know how serious this was because they’d tell their dad and I did not want to deal with that. I was worried sick and while worrying about my boy, I was also worrying about what my friend would think. Should a good mom be flailing about and hysterical? Did he think I sucked as a mom for losing a boy?

    Eventually after what seemed like weeks, but which was more like 30-40 minutes after I’d contacted the police, an officer came to get me and told me a car was bringing my boy over. I hope it’s the last time I see his wee face in the back of a patrol car. He was fine though. He’d wandered much further than I had checked thinking it wouldn’t be possible he’d gone that far. Once he realized he was lost, he sat down to cry and was found by a mom. He knew a mom was probably a safe person to go with and she had told him that she’d take him to a police man, which she did. All’s well that ends well but that boy still gives me fits.

  31. Angeline Duran Piotrowski April 17, 2009 at 9:36 pm #

    Are you kidding me? It happens almost everyday when I let my kids play in our yard. I give my 3 and 5 year old “free range” of a small perimeter of our house (on our cul-de-sac street) and an empty lot next door and usually I can see what they are doing from the porch while I’m inside washing dishes (aka, enjoying the silence). But about once a day one of them will be hiding in a corner getting into trouble (like secretly filling his boots up with hose water or digging a deep hole in my herb pot) and he will be so intent on not getting caught that he won’t answer my calls. I run around the house like a maniac shouting his name, sure that I was a negligent horrible parent whose child had been abducted by pirates because I allowed my kids play by themselves in our own yard while I did the dishes. But alas, they are always there, just doing what kids do.

    I don’t remember my parents EVER playing outside with me. We live in the country and we were given a pretty wide range of wilderness to explore. There were certain places we weren’t supposed to go by ourselves and we obeyed that rule, but mostly I don’t think my parents knew what we were doing most of the time and I don’t think it would have been fun to have them hovering all the time. I used to love to spend hours just spacing out in our yard, building shelters with sticks and pretending I was lost in the wilderness, standing on top of a gravel pile surrounded by mud puddles and pretending I was queen of the island. I can’t even imagine how much fun it would NOT have been if I had my mom sitting there staring at me the whole time saying “don’t slip on the rocks” “quit touching that its dirty”.

    I’m trying to let my kids learn how to play imaginatively by themselves like my parents did, but the only way to do that is leave them alone sometimes both in and outside the house and let them have a little freedom.

  32. Jennifer April 17, 2009 at 9:43 pm #

    @Ender: The main difference is not only the age of the child, but the fact that the separation was not expected. If my son says, “Mom, I’m going outside to play!” and I say, “Okay.” I don’t hover or chew my nails while he’s gone.
    But if we are in a place where we are expected to stay together, and he disappears without notice, that is different.
    Especially a strange place, like a vacation spot, that I know nothing about.
    Plus, though no one wants to admit it, part of the terror comes from knowing what kind of life we are in for if our child really does go missing. We see the unlucky parents in the media, dragged out for everyone to point at and judge. Even Lenore was called Worst Mother in America! And her son wasn’t even missing. The Ramseys, to this day, are assumed guilty for the killing of their own daughter. People are quick to blame the parents and they become media pariahs. Facts are disposed of, and the mother who lost her child in a freak incident becomes one in the same with the abusive mother who willfully harms her kids.
    Even if it doesn’t get to that point, there’s still local pressure. You’ll be the parents in town who are “neglectful”, and everyone will always assume the worst about your parenting. This is evident by the many stories here saying that the police and neighbors jumping to conclusions are often the most harrowing thing about their incident.

  33. Anna April 17, 2009 at 11:25 pm #

    Late one morning at home, I was going about my business with something in the house and realized it was too quiet. I called out and there was no reply from my son, who I think was about 3 yo at the time and never prone to wandering off or getting too far away from me. I looked in all the rooms upstairs and down, the garage, then back upstairs under the beds, then out in the back garden, then out in the front garden, in the car in the drive, on the street in front of the house (very quiet suburban street on what is similar to a cul-de-sac but half circle shaped instead of a dead-end). I couldn’t find him anywhere, and he didn’t answer (and I was calling *much* louder by then).

    I checked with a few adjacent neighbors (he wasn’t in the habit of going to their houses). At that point, I was pretty frantic that he had wandered off (I did not consider that he had been snatched for even one moment) and I started considering calling the police, but knew that would also mean a sheriff’s helicopter would be quickly be circling overhead the quiet neighborhood broadcasting a missing child alert with a description, etc., as well as a visit from the sheriffs, and my house was a topsy-turvy unkept mess that day (yes, I was also thinking about how my house would look to the police that day).

    I decided to have one last look in the house, this time in the places I hadn’t looked, in the closets. I found him fast asleep in my walk-in closet , on the carpet deep under the bottom row of hanging clothes. Phew!

    Usually the panic of being separated was the other way around. I remember one time at the county fair when my son was about 5 or 6 yo and we were making our way slowing through the building with all the aisles of booths of vendors selling wares. While I had my son in my peripheral vision I moved about 10 feet away to look at something, but I guess my son hadn’t seen me move. When I looked back at him a moment later, he was dissolved in tears and clearly panicked that he had “lost” me. He was never a kid I had to run after and catch, that’s for sure. Whether I liked it or not, he always stayed pretty close to me :-). That’s just his nature, though it’s changing now that he’s 10 yo.

    We’ve did a lot of international travel before my son started school, because my husband’s family lives in two countries overseas, plus his job as a research scientist provides lots of opportunities for meetings in interesting places and invitations from colleagues. I always found a way to keep some ID information on our son from the time he was an infant to this day, such as our local contact info on the back of my husband’s business card attached to his clothing with clear packing tape (on his bck when he was a baby so he wouldn’t remove it), in his stroller, and later, laminated in clear packing tape and threaded through his shoe lacings when he was a toddler/preschooler. I still do that now anytime we are in crowds, or away from home, though he now can be relied upon to keep the info safe in his pocket. And he knows all our phone numbers now and could tell someone.

    Last summer we saw a nice development in our son’s independence. We met up with my husband’s family for a farmhouse vacation in Italy after my husband finished a meeting he had organized. Then we spent some days exploring cities with just our family. Our son likes to drink fizzy mineral water or cappuccinos (unsweetened!) when we sit at cafés (often), but it always creates increased his need to pee later, sometimes multiple times. So he was constantly in search of a toilet. This trip, he didn’t want someone to come with him to find one, which was g-r-e-a-t! He figured out the lingo (“toilet”, not “restroom” or “men’s room”) o make himself understood if he had to ask directions or permission, and became very good at navigating the sometimes warren-like paths to the facilities behind, below, or over small restaurants and business in old city centers. Sometimes the door locks or flush mechanisms operated unfamiliarly, or the light switch was in an unexpected or difficult to find location. He nearly always had a tale to tell when he returned, or tips for the next person who needed to use the facility. Going to the restroom by one’s self, a small thing, I know, but in a foreign land by a slightly timid 10 yo singleton kid, it was a big free-range step I was glad to see him taking.

  34. Claire McGee April 18, 2009 at 1:36 am #

    While living in Hawaii – shopping at Ala Moana Mall, my 6 yr old son slipped away. His brother age 5 and I looked frantically for him – and when the mall closed, the mall security searched the entire parking area, dumpsters etc, finding nothing. Distraught, his brother and I returned home, to find the 6 year old, inside watching TV. He had panhandled a quarter for bus fare, taken the bus home, and broken in through a screen, and was “just fine.” Apparently, while we walked through the appliance area, he stopped to watch TV and didn’t see us continue on. So he decided to go home. Kids in Hawaii take public transportation to school – rush hour is filled with keikis (children) all packed on the bus, along with the business commuters. From age 5, kids ride the bus to school.
    We then instituted instructions for what to do if you get separated again. Turn yourself into a store clerk. A few months later, my younger son disappeared – at the same mall. Upon contacting mall security – they advised us that he was at Connie’s Shoes – being attended to by the prettiest staff in the mall. He enjoyed every minute of it.
    Kids. Aren’t they great!

  35. Sharon April 18, 2009 at 2:26 am #

    Can I just recommend that you all read Gavin DeBecker’s “Protecting the Gift”? It is not at all contrary to free-range parenting ideals, but it does teach you some practical things. Like, if the kid is lost in a store, the BEST person to turn to for help is a mom with her kids–not necessarily a mall cop, for instance.

    I’ve lost my kids for brief amounts of time, although not enough to make a noteworthy comment here. 🙂

  36. Delia April 18, 2009 at 3:46 am #

    My 8 year old was playing at a neighbors and my husband was going to take the other kids to the beach for an hour or two. It got dark and the 8 yo hadn’t come home yet. I called the neighbors and they said she’d left over an hour ago. I drove all over looking for her when I got home, my husband had just arrived with all the kids. Apparently, she’d walked into the yard just as they were leaving, so she went along and they ‘forgot’ to tell me. Sometimes my husband is worse than the kids.

  37. Mary-Ellen Field April 18, 2009 at 5:05 am #

    20 years ago when my children were under 10 they slipped away on a number of occasions in shopping malls. Usually I found them hiding under rails of clothing laughing their heads off while they watched me run around like a headless chicken. On another occasion one of them went off on his own and when he couldn’t find me he took himself off to the lost property office. He was 6 at the time

  38. Gabe April 18, 2009 at 6:39 am #

    @Ender. Our place is about 2 blocks from a freeway on-ramp. We’re also just 1 block away from a major road lined with motels. It’s a very busy area. Our 4-year old took off without us knowing about it (we were still asleep!) and then acted suspiciously when he was spotted by the police – and then again when he answered the door.

    The deadbolt was only locked at night and was replaced with a normal manual unlock about a year later when we felt he was mature enough to not go wandering about without us knowing.

    He’s been walking or riding his bike to school alone since he was 7 (he’s 14 now). I’ve been confident in his being able to go out and explore where he wants or go to a friend’s home or the library after school over the years. He just knows that he needs to be home by dinner and that his homework and chores must be taken care of without me having to hassle him.

    He’s grown up to be a very responsible and independent young man. I’m quite proud of him.

  39. Carol April 18, 2009 at 9:57 am #

    Here are a couple of stories.

    2 yr Child goes missing. Where is he? look in the horse trough first in case he’s drowned, frantically search for about an hour, when child is found in the cornfield, asleep, with his toy tractor.

    Another child a different time goes missing about age 4. same scurrying around. Finally after a couple of hours find child trapped under rose bushes. He is scratched up badly when he is extracted.

    THese stories are ones my grandmother told me about my uncles, in the 1930s. So this fear may be pretty primal.

  40. Jen April 18, 2009 at 10:39 am #

    Oldest kid? *I* had three instances where I thought he was lost, he only thought he was lost once. Of the two, once he was in the care of my adult age nephew but the canoe was hidden in shadows on what looked like an empty lake to my panicky eyes and once he was playing with friends and there was a babysitter in the vicinity. We just found the empty house and the seemingly deserted nearby playground at a church and school. Yes, he related when we “found him” he’d heard dad calling, but they were playing hide and seek and he was hiding at the time, so clearly he couldn’t answer. @@

    The one actually lost event was at a small playground, open on one side, we were standing in the center area, with his baby brother in a stroller, talking with the other friends we were with. He was running and playing in a distinctive shirt that we could spot easily to keep track of his 3+ yo self. Gave him a 5 minute warning to go and when we went to get him in about 5 or a few more minutes — can’t find him! No orange shirt on the slides, the bridge, the swings, the benches….it’s a tiny playground, he’s NOT there. Friends agree to watch baby, I head up the street toward the car, husband down the street…as I’m halfway to the not very far car, yelling his name, I see him coming back to the playground, being escorted by a lady who’d been at the playground.

    He’d somehow heard the warning, looked up a minute later and thought we’d left without him and decided to go to the car, then started crying when we weren’t in it, and started back down the street. The lady saw him there and made sure he got back, having seen us at the playground.

    He told us that he had planned that he’d go to a bus stop next, get on the bus when it came and tell the driver his street address. Not the worst plan, since the driver would surely have radioed that right in to the police!

    Then child #2 was lost once (age 6) getting off at the wrong late schoolbus stop…asked for directions from a crossing guard but refused the offer to call home (argh, why didn’t she make him?!) got lost finding our street, asked a young tie-wearing man for help (it’s mostly residential urban, so some people but he was on a side street). I’d finished calling everywhere he could possibly be when he didn’t come down the block from the bus and had told my husband I’d call the cops if I didn’t have him in 10 minutes of driving around. Got in the car, looked in the mirror to pull out and there he was coming down the street. I’ve always felt guilty for not getting the guy’s name — I thanked him, certainly, but it didn’t seem profuse enough in retrospect! Hard to say too much when you haven’t been breathing for about half an hour. We clocked his route with the car and he walked about 1 1/2 – 2 miles that afternoon.

    My kids were ultra shy when young too, not at all the type to talk to strangers who spoke to them when they were little and not at my side. So, I’ve always been grateful that we’d made the distinction between people you ask for help when you need it and people that come up to little kids unasked. And we’ve always believed that 99+% of people really don’t want someone else’s kid!

  41. Jen April 18, 2009 at 10:40 am #

    Child #3 has made it to nearly 7 yo without being lost. Hmmm.

  42. KBF April 18, 2009 at 11:57 am #

    How about the time I lost someone else’s kid? And he was “returned” by someone from The City of Phoenix.

    I was watching a kid after-school last year when my youngest daughter started preschool and I picked this extra kid “T” up when they both got out at noon. “T” is raised by slightly older parents who are Free Range without even knowing it because they are either old enough to know that kids almost always find their way home or too tired to care that their kid wanders off. Well, my own kids never wander off quite the same and usually stay in either the front or backyards when they play. But “T” well…he has little fear and so he sometimes would open the side gate and walk around to the front from the back. One day he did it and it just happened to be the same day that someone from the city was coming to ask me a question about our garbage can usage. The woman rang the door bell, had “T” with her and just asked, “Does he belong to you?” I felt like a horrible parent/babysitter because it felt like I was caught not watching the kids, but you know they were fine. And when I told “T’s” parents about it they just laughed and it was not a big deal to them at all. I think their reaction helped me relax a lot about my own kids.

  43. Rich April 19, 2009 at 11:22 am #

    When I was 5 my carpool ride dropped me off at the house a few minutes before my dad got home from work. Rural Fort Collins in ’71, it was no big deal. But rather than wait on the porch for my dad, I fretted about missing Mr. Rogers, so I crawled through the milk delivery door (about 1′ square). My dad got home, and didn’t see me outside, so assumed my carpool had taken me to their house. When he got there and they didn’t have me, he raced home. He came racing into the house, frantic, to see me sitting quietly talking to ‘my neighbor’.

    I got lost another time with my mother, and all I remember about it is that she didn’t seem nearly as upset as I was.

    I lost my own 2 year old for about 2 minutes in a department store a week before Christmas. I knew he wasn’t ‘stolen’ just out of sight, but I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared in my life.

  44. Celeste April 19, 2009 at 9:49 pm #

    I’m the oldest of 4 girls, and when I was about 7 or 8 years old, my youngest sisters, 2 year old twins (it’s always at 2!) escaped the back yard to go play in the park. We had a six foot privacy fence with a locked gate, so it never occurred to mom that there would be any problem letting us play unsupervised there. They somehow managed to jiggle the gate lock free, and happily set off towards the park. When we caught up with them, they had stripped down to their diapers and were happily toddling down the street a full two blocks away.

    That was the first of many incidents. 🙂 My sisters and I all had a talent for mischief and it’s simply impossible for one adult to watch 4 imps simultaneously.

  45. Dorota Konowrocka April 20, 2009 at 6:04 pm #


    This is a story from Poland 🙂 My sons were then 2 and 4 years old. They were playing in the backyard around their daddy, who was repairing a bike. I decided to go gather some blackberries in the wood (we live on the verge of quite a big wood). I said: “Anyone wanna join me?”. They said “no”, so I went on my own. After a while they dedided they wanted to join me and they hurried after me. Daddy thought I took them with me. I knew nothing about them chasing me. I went straight, they turned right after a while… For something like 40 minutes I was gatering blackberries, my husband was doing something in the backyard, and they were wandering happily around, going in the direction of our friends house, a mile away. Then I decided to come back. When I approached home I saw my horse, standing on the pastures, head high, looking at something very alert, like horses do sometimes. I followed his sight and saw my boys 500 yards away going under the electric wire. I remember I though: Oh, it is not reasonable to let them play so far away from home and near the horses, I have to tell my husband to keep a closer eye on them!”, and then I saw they were accompanied by some stranger. And suddenly I was very alert! Who is that guy?? It was our neighbour. He found them on the paved road, almost a mile from home. Younger one wore only T-shirt, older only shorts (they get rid of their sandals and one T-shirt and one pair of shorts on the way). They were not scared, they were happy, the older one told the neighbour where they are coming from. They neighbour scolded me badly for being a negligent mother …. 🙂 And lived happily ever after 🙂 Dorota

  46. Ken April 21, 2009 at 3:51 am #

    My daughter’s 18 months old, so so far she hasn’t managed to slip away from me. But I have a story that should be good FRP fodder.

    I grew up in Toronto, Canada, which has one of the best public transit systems in North America. Around the time when I was 6 and my sister was 9, our daily after-school routine was to go to the school library (where my mother worked,) she would hand us two TTC tickets, we would then go home (one bus to the station and then a streetcar).

    Occasionally, we’d also go to dentist or doctor appointments together after school at a medical complex located one subway stop north from the station where we’d transfer. Anyhow…

    One time, en route to an appointment, I accidentally stayed on the subway car at Davisville where we were meant to get off. As the doors closed and my train sped off, my sister instructed me to take the next train back south. I got to Eglinton, got off the train, got onto the next southbound train and got off at Davisville, meeting my sister who was talking with two TTC employees to report me ‘missing’. Once I was back, problem solved, and we went off to the appointment.

    This would have been circa 1977-78.

  47. Bronwyn April 21, 2009 at 4:27 pm #

    I’ve not yet lost my neice or nephew when out *touch wood* but my sister has a plan for when it happens.

    When we went to a public outdoor concert she wrote her phone number on their arms. If they get lost, she can be easily contacted.

  48. Lisa April 22, 2009 at 9:53 am #

    When I was young, my parents and I and my twin younger sisters lived in Japan. I was about 4 and my sisters were about 1 when I got lost at a Japanese festival, so I’ve been told. My mom let go of my hand long enough to look down under the stroller my sisters were in, and I got fascinated by the streamers hanging in thick sheets from ropes over the street, and the pretty sights and sounds, and I wandered off. When my mom looked up she couldn’t find me anywhere. My parents were in the Air Force, so we lived on base, but the festival was off-base in the neighboring town. My mom freaked out looking everywhere (this was before cellphones anyway), until she made it back to base to report me lost…and found me sitting in the guard shack, having been brought there by a little old Japanese lady who saw me alone and realized I must belong to an American family. Of course my mom was worried but it’s a great example of stranger not-danger, and in a foreign country with a language barrier to boot!

  49. Anette April 23, 2009 at 5:56 am #

    I lost mine while I was looking right at him. He was a constantly-on-the-move-toddler and we were on the plaza part of a shopping mall, me following a few steps behind him. A group of shoppers crowded between us and when they had passed, he was gone.

    That one freaked me out because I thought that someone must have picked him up, he could not possibly have gotten away from me that fast. But he did. We spent maybe five or ten (?) minutes looking for him. They were long minutes, but he was fine. A bit puzzled at my very evident relief when I had him back.

    We taught him that if he was lost, he should “find someone who looks like a mom, or a cop” once he was little older. We also role-played potential scenarios. Once he knew my cell phone number and understood that someone might be tricking you if they offer to show you a really cute puppy in the car/the house/the bushes, I worried a lot less. These days I worry about traffic but not strangers.

    And I was always very, very vigilant around water.

  50. Kim J. April 24, 2009 at 1:37 am #

    Thank you so much for posting these stories! I lost our 4 year old at the park while celebrating the 7 year old birthday. She wandered away from the shelter to the playground while we were setting up, lost track of which way the shelter was and wandered half way around the park to another birthday party.

    I thought she was with my husband setting up, he thought she was with me, and we didn’t realize she was missing until she came back with a parent from the other party who had figured out where she was supposed to be. She was trying to remember our phone number! She got a cowboy hat out of the deal, and says she wasn’t scared.

    She was in a place she knew well (we go to that park once a week) and she ended up fine, but I still feel bad, and I feel bad that i don’t feel worse than I do. It’s good to know that I’m not alone.

  51. Robin April 25, 2009 at 2:18 am #

    I lost my daughter at the same water park twice, once when she was four and once when she was six. The first time we were there with my husband’s entire family. About 45 minutes into our visit, nobody could find her. This water park, which is part of a larger amusement park, has huge slides surrounding a central splash park playground and lazy river. The splash park has a big hill in the middle with little caves running through and lots of little alcoves for little kids to hide in. Fun for kids, but a nightmare for a parent trying to find a four-year old! We alerted the staff, but it still took us almost half an hour to find her. One of the staff found her on the other side of the park in the dressing rooms. I actually was fairly calm as we searched for her, although all sorts of terrible scenarios rushed through my head.

    Fast forward two years, for our next visit to the park, one which I was understandably reluctant to make, especially since this time I had a two-year-old in addition to my two older kids and I was eight months pregnant. After riding the rides at the amusement park, my husband took my oldest son into the dressing room to change and I took the two younger girls into the women’s dressing room. It was a pretty small room and I was already the size of a boat (don’t worry–I didn’t ride on any of the rides myself), so it took a little manouevering to get everyone changed. When we were finished, I opened the door for my six year old to leave first, then turned back to help the two year old out and grab our clothes and stuff. When I turned back around, my six year old had vanished.

    Ooh, was I angry! We looked all over, but couldn’t find her. First I had to find my husband, all while toting around a mountain of clothing, towels, and swimming paraphernelia, and dragging a two-year-old by the hand, and then continue the frantic search in my eight-month- pregnant state while now carrying the two-year-old. Did I mention it was like 95 degrees that day and the park was PACKED? Eventually I found a bridge which overlooked most of the spash area and just stood there, surveying the area. Only a few minutes later, I spotted my daughter frolicking in a waterfall, completely oblivious to the chaos she had caused. Of course, she couldn’t hear me call her name over the noise of the water and the crowds, and by the time I waddled down to where she was, she had disappeared again! But I staked out the slide where I had seen her last and finally managed to catch a few minutes later.

    I swear, that park needs an age advisory. It is way too easy to lose little kids there if you are not constantly vigilant!

  52. Rica April 27, 2009 at 5:02 am #

    I lost my youngest daughter at King’s Island. At the time she was 7 years old. The whole family was on one of those waterfall / white water rapids rides together. When the ride ended we started walking down the path to exit and she was gone.

    Of course we were all in a panic. Given how many people are at those parks at any given time, we were worried that she might just exit the park with another child or something. We started a frantic search for her. My 12- year-old daughter and I went one way and the 10-year-old daughter and my boyfriend went the other way.

    After 20 minutes of searching, the 10-year-old spotted her. She was sitting at a picnic table near the ride exit. She had been talking to another woman that was on the ride with us and walked off, too engrossed in her conversation to notice that we weren’t with her. Once she realized we weren’t with her she freaked out. Thankfully, she was smart enough to head back to the ride and not go looking for us.

  53. Sara April 29, 2009 at 10:38 am #

    So at what age should you teach a child your cell phone number? Teach them what to do if they get lost? My daughter just turned four and I feel like she might be scared by the idea that she would get lost (she’s very cautious). I have vivid memories of being told not to talk to strangers at an assembly at school (I think I was 5 or 6). It was like the end of innocence as suddenly the world no longer seemed friendly and welcoming. How do you teach your child to be friendly, but smart and without instilling fear (which is what the school did to us, not my parents)?

  54. Amanda April 29, 2009 at 9:49 pm #

    Our family once spent a night in a large and busy hotel. My husband had an outside appointment, leaving me in the hotel room with my 3yo, 4yo, and 6mo. The older two were watching TV and I was nursing the younger one on the bed in the hotel room. With the door fully latched, of course.

    It had been a long day and I was tired, so I was resting while I nursed my youngest. Apparently I let my guard down, because I had my back to the TV-watchers. Next thing I knew, the phone rang and I heard the voice ask if I had lost a little boy. Of course I hadn’t! He’s right h… Oh.

    My confident and very independent 3yo had silently and stealthily moved a chair over to the door, unlatched the deadbolt, and let himself out of the room, without my even hearing a click (well, the TV was on….) He was naked and carrying a sword. I’m sure he felt he could defend himself if needed.

    He apparently explored our floor, bypassed the elevator (thankfully), and made friends with the people a few doors down. They were nice strangers and managed to extract my first name and my husband’s from my son. They called the front desk, who pieced together who we were and called me. I sheepishly collected my naked, sword-bearing toddler and thanked the “neighbors.” And thanked my lucky stars.

    Yes, I felt like the worst mom in the world. I’m a pretty attentive parent and it amazed me that my kid managed to escape without my noticing. It does make a good story, though, especially when told to people who assume that only bad things can happen to naked little boys who get lost in hotels.

  55. Rich Wilson April 29, 2009 at 11:04 pm #


    My personal opinion is that the right time to teach a kid something is when it’s fun. There’s nothing wrong with a 2 year old knowing their own last name (hm, mine doesn’t), and none of it has to be scary. When they can handle sequences of digits, then learning an address and phone number can be a game. My reward for learning how to write my name was my own library card.

    Lastly, I’d change “don’t talk to strangers” to “make sure mom and dad know where you are at all times”.

    And read Bruce Schneier’s take on “talking to strangers”

  56. Sonja May 4, 2009 at 2:34 am #

    The one time a kid slipped away from us, was at a Renaissance Faire we attended. As others have said, his dad thought he was with me, I thought he was with his dad, and when we met back up ten minutes later we were minus one child. Luckily we were friends with many of the Faire vendors and several members of the “Local Wenches Guild.” Word spread quickly around the property and within ten minutes he was brought back to us. He was fine, he’d thought I was behind him when he headed toward the petting zoo and only realized something was wrong when he got there and I wasn’t around. Once he was found my emergency calm and cool evaporated and I burst into tears, but all was well.

    I grew up in small towns and semi-rural areas, and most days I got off the school bus, saddled up the horse I bought and supported with my own savings, and went trail riding until dark. I can only imagine the horror some “modern” parents would feel over a young girl being alone in the woods on a big strong scary animal with nobody to chaperone or protect me… The worst that happened was the mare dumped me in the mud a few times, then she calmly ate grass until I got back to her and got back on. My sons (10 and 14 now) walk or bike to friends’ houses and know as long as I have an idea what street they’re on and they’re back for supper, everything’s fine.

  57. Jewel May 5, 2009 at 9:36 am #

    We lost our 4yo at the flea market and a “good Samaritan” made it so much worse! We were browsing slowly and somehow we all lost sight of her. When we described her to the vendors they all said they saw her being led away CRYING by a man. We were terrified!

    The man was trying to help a “lost” little girl, so he took her to an office on the other side of the large grounds so that we could find her.

    Idiot! We would have found her much sooner if he would have allowed her to stand there crying like she naturally knew to do once she realized she was lsot. We had to act grateful but I really wanted to punch him for all the time & worry he caused by whisking her away while we frantically searched for her.

    NOTE: If you come across a lost child, do NOT remove the child to a different location unless she is in real danger (middle of the road, hailstorm, etc.) Otherwise, you can be a real help by just calmly hanging around (without harassing the child) to make sure the parents find her.

  58. Jessie May 6, 2009 at 12:12 pm #

    It just happened to me today. I have a five year old and a newborn. I stopped at the drug store to pick up something. I got out of the car. I got my five year old out of the car and told him to stand by the front of the car and touch it until I tell him to stop. I was getting my newborn out of the car by taking the car seat out of the holder to carry her in that way. When I got her out and turned towards where my son was he was gone. Wow, for a split second my mind was racing playing the tape of what I would tell the police, “I turned my back for a minute and he was gone. I heard nothing and saw no one.” I yelled his name and looked around frantically while holding the car seat with my heart pounding. Then a kind lady in the car next to me said I think he went inside the store. I somehow calmly walked inside and called his name. Then I heard him scream in terror, “Mommy!!!!!” Oh my poor baby! He was so scared. I found him, put the car seat down, and hugged him tight. I told him that I loved and that everything was fine now. I asked him why he went in the store without me and he said that he thought I was wearing a black shirt and he saw someone with a black shirt go in the store and followed them in. Whew! Thank God he is alright. My lesson is learned. He will be the last one to get out of the car now.

  59. Sasha D May 11, 2009 at 1:44 pm #

    As I mentioned in a comment on another page, I am Deaf. Deaf as CAN NOT HEAR A THING. This means, without a doubt I have ‘lost’ my kids, ages 14 and 4, MANY times. LOL

    The most frequent thing that happens is when they run out the door of the house to go ‘to their friends’ house.” I can’t hear the door open or shut, so of course I often have no idea I’m even missing one until they come back out of breath. Because of my Deafness, when we go out to a store or a public place, my big rule is for them to stay WHERE THEY CAN SEE ME AND I CAN SEE THEM. If they lost sight of me or I lose sight of them, they are grounded from something they dearly love, so this is a lesson they have learned pretty quickly!

    Once when my 14 year old was about 2, his father and I had just moved us into a new apartment, and I was in our bedroom, unpacking, having had sat him down to watch a Barney videotape (Yes, I am guilty. I am NOT sorry. it was the only way I could get anything unpacked!) I should also mention that because of my Deafness, I am asbolutely fastidious about keeping our doors locked. Well, apparently I had one helluva smart 2 year old! I suddenly felt a big gust of wind in the room I was in, and at first I thought the door was opened but I thought “Nah, he’s not old enough to unlock the slide glass door” so I kept unpacking. As it happened I had a funny feeling persisting, so I walked out to the other room toward the slide glass door, and a woman was walking a little boy who looked remarkedly like my son toward my apartment. She said “is this your son?” I said no, my boy is watching Barney, and turned to look at a now empty living room! He had stood on the sidewalk watching the cars go by and traffic was at a total stand still while they waited to make sure he got home with the lady! I was so embarrassed and thanked the woman again and again and again! She laughed and said it happened to her once before! Boy that was SCARY!

    So, yeah. I once had CPS called on me because my daughter ran out of the house for the first time when she was about 3, and I frantically ran up and down the street yelling her name, finally found her, shook her by the shoulders to never ever ever do that again, and a neighbor called CPS and said I neglected her and abused her. CPS came, investigated, found out I am DEAF and figured ‘ca-ca happens’ and closed the case. I don’t talk to that neighbor no more, I tell you that! Now the entire block knows I’m Deaf, and if they see my daughter running around, they just bring her back home or let me know she’s at their house playing, etc. God Bless Good Neighbors!


  60. Dee September 7, 2009 at 11:19 am #

    Today my husband 2 1/2 yr old son and 18 month old daughter went to a local tourist area. A place where we normaly go. We had a fun time out but had decided to head home as the kids were getting tired. We had parked our van at a parking garage. While we were waiting for the elevator to get up to where we had parked there was a line up to get on. A few people got on and it filled up so we would have to wait for the next one. Little did I know as I was holding my daughter back from getting on my son had got lost in the shuffle and ended up on the elevator! The doors closed and I looked up at my husband and he looked at me. Where’s J???? OMG I started freaking! My husband told me to stay there in case somehow he stayed in the elevator and came back down. He took off and went up the stairs floor to floor looking for him. I found an employee and told him that my 2 yr old son has gone up the elevator without us. He then took off to go notify other employees. As I was still standing there with my daughter in my arms and freaking out to the point I can hardly breath and crying like I have never cried before, the elevator opens up and a lady comes out and says it’s okay “he” has your son. Who has my son? I ask …. “My husband has your son” she replies ….At this point I start to calm down a little….We wait as she says her husband is going to bring him down the stairs……At this time my husband shows back up and he says he did not see our son. The lady tries calling her husband and he does not answer his cell. So now I am starting to freak out again!! I hand my daugher off to my husband and I start running up to the lobby where the lady said her husband and my son got off the elevator. As I am running up the stairs and I turn the corner there is my son walking down the stairs with the employee I first told that my son was missing. My son says hi Mommy, like nothing had happened! I grabed him and hugged him so tight! That was the longest 10 minutes of my life!

    Wow, I have never lost site of him before and I hope I never do again! I am still freaked out about this, just to think that there was 7 floors to that parking garage and a few other floors that led to different attractions and to the hotel. He could have gotten off at anyone of those floors and the wrong person could have been there and he could be who knows where!

    Thankfully there is still good people out there and my son came home with us tonight safe & sound and we did not end up on the 11 o’clock news tonight!

    So just a reminder to moms and dads everywhere be sure to keep a close eye on your kids because in one blink they could be gone!

  61. Jeanne September 28, 2009 at 11:21 pm #

    Well I lost my 5yr old daughter for about 5 mins but it was scary!
    We were coming from the school-it was an early dismissal day, which meant all the kids were coming home-so there were lots of kids , as I was wlaking home with my daughter I ran into another mom who I needed to talk to to arrange something. My daughter was next to me and then started talking to another friend of hers from school, they were running around and I let her since we were only 2 blocks away from home-in a very safe neighbourhood. I thought she was just running ahead. When Im done talking to my friend I turn around, and Bella was nowhere in sight! I looked around, looked ahead-she wasnt there!! There were lots of kids in the street and it was soo busy!
    There’s a park/wooden area nearby with lots of trees and that turns into a trail-I caught a glimpse of a kid running into the woods, I ran all the way there, yelling her name-and there she was following her friend home!! She thought it was an adventure going through the woods-I was scared to death! Because she was out of sight and anyone could be in the woods, lurking-or pretending to go for a walk…
    Luckily she was safe and sound, and now she has to stay where I can see her…She’s almost 7 now and knows better than to run away like that.

  62. Crissy November 23, 2009 at 8:32 am #

    My husband and I had just got family pictures made at wal-mart then we went grocery shopping since we were already there. We were almost done we were at the meat section and my husband was looking at ribs and I said “honey I’m going to go get some hamburger meat watch the baby I will be back”, well he did not hear me and my son followed me and did not pay attenetion where I stopped and kept on walking. I went back to my husband and noticed my son was not there It was the scariest feeling I have ever had in my life I started yelling his name I spotted him down from us by the bananas. He is only 19 months old. It was only like a minute but it was so scary. Thank God he is ok. From now on my son stays in the shopping cart.

  63. don July 3, 2010 at 11:43 am #

    i allways let my kids play in the woods behind are house but not no day sadie and mathew wonderd off and 30 minuites i hear 2 kids sceaming. my heart pounding as i race thou stickers and poision ivy bare foot once i reached them a hunter had a t-shirt raped around mathews bloody leg.mathew was shot by a hunter who thought he was a deer no charges were pressed aginst the hunter

  64. car review September 9, 2010 at 5:12 pm #

    I lost my 2-year old at R.E.I. last year. She darted one way, I went looking the other, and realized she was GONE. Slightly embarrassed and rather alarmed, I told a worker and he quickly went and locked the doors of the store and made an announcement to the whole store. I am not joking when I say that it took about 30 seconds for someone to find her. All was well.

  65. Kristina August 30, 2011 at 12:50 pm #

    Seeing as I’m unapologetically child-less (I’m 18), I’ve never list a child. My mother never really gave us enough leeway for us to get lost (we went to school, then home, and stayed there). Unless you count the time I got bored at school and hitchhiked through three cities to the next state over. That was fun, and I believed in the kindness of strangers (particularly the diner waitress who gave me a small meal for free and a businessman who said he’d be heading back to my city later that day if I wanted to go back home)

    But the closest I have been to losing a child is when I look after about 12 kids during my dads parties. I stopped to take a breath ( we were playing tag as the adults sang bad karaoke) and I did a quick headcount to find I was missing my former boss’s two year old. We had just taken out our side gate that had been rusted and, I believed, bent on scratching my ankle every time I passed. So naturally I looked there first, after signalling to my younger sister to watch the others for a minute.

    I found her standing right outside the now gate-less gap in the wall, playing with rocks. I sighed a relief, called her name, and she came running over me, smiling and asking for “da-da?”


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