Yesterday Fiona and I endured something most (if not all) parents would consider a nightmare. We lost a child, albiet it only lasted for 10-15 minutes (it felt a lot longer). We went to a Chille Cook Off fair in Old Town Tustin. Apparently they have it every year on the first Sunday of June. Considering that we have lived in Tustin (or neighboring cities), this was our first time to the fair. The fair occupied a lengh of a street and then some. It was huge and vastly over crowded.
We walked through the majority of the fair making sure everyone was close. The girls' were in the stroller which I steered and Jadon was with Fiona. We had just finished scoping out the fair and were heading over to a Strawberry Cake booth. Fiona and Jadon took off ahead while I manuervered through the crowd with girls. I found a shaded area near the booth and waited with the girls. I saw Fiona but no Jadon. I asked Fiona where he was and she said that he was right behind her. She couldn't hold his hands because her hands were full. She handed me the dessert and she frantically looked for Jadon. No luck. She came back and I took over the search. There were so many people, my heart was just panicking. I located a Sheriffs booth and asked them if there was an area where missing people go. They didn't know anything but did point me in the direction of the Tustin Police (one of the organizers) booth. As I was walking, my dread was just becoming worse. What if someone kidnapped him? What happens if he gets lost? What is he thinking of? Is he sad? Is he crying? I tried to keep my mind focused and calm. I couldn't find the booth but I did locate a police officer that was stationed at the corner of the street. I asked him the same question that I asked the sheriffs and he just told me that another officer had just reported a missing child found. There was no description given but I told him what Jadon was wearing and that he had a firefighter's hat. The officer said that it was probably him and that the other officer is escorting the child to our location. That somewhat reassured me but that I wouldn't be completely until I saw him. A few minutes later I saw the other officer with Jadon. I thanked both officers and I was so relieved. Jadon had this sad face and he came over to me, all silent, and just hugged my leg. Poor guy. He must have been terrified. I picked him up, held him tightly, and kissed his cheeks so many times. He just broke down and cried. I reassured him that everything is fine now and told him how scared I was for him. I held him the whole way back to Fiona. We called it quits and I carried him then back to the car.
In retrospect, I didn't think there was much more that we could have done to prevent such a situation to occur (short of putting him on a leash). We always tell him to stay close, to hold on to the stroller, to our hands, if not our hands than our shirt. I guess that with all the chaos with the crowds, it's easy for a toddler to just get lost in mind and then literally get lost. It's easy to take those types of situations for granted because you read stories of missing children and you never think it can happen to your family but always be cognizant of your surroundings and if you already are, then strive to take it a step further.