losing your mind isn’t as bad as losing your kid

The whole family went to IKEA on Saturday.

No, we weren’t on drugs, we had a plan and mission.

Since the unfortunate bathroom accident of 2012 we’ve had to make some choices about what we’d like to do in the aftermath.

So we went with visions of Allen wrenches and meatballs floating in our imaginations.

When we got there we got to work with our “To-Do list”, their paper tape measure and putt-putt golf pencils. We looked at couches, at shelves, at rooms too small to be real and stopped at tables.


Swedish for “the place where my 11yo disappeared in the crowds of people and caused her parents to FREAK THE HELL OUT”.

For 20 minutes we searched, asked employees, tried to figure out where she was and why she wasn’t contacting us. The fact that SHE KNEW our phone numbers and could call us anytime was pounding in the front my brain.

Why wasn’t she calling me?

Was something keeping her from calling?


There are no words to describe the panic in my heart. I couldn’t even run around looking for her because of my screwed up eyes and wheelchair-bound body.

I don’t know if I can express what it was like to know that my child was alone out there and there was nothing I could physically try to do.out it.

When Nathaniel shouted “THERE SHE IS!” and she came around the corner with an employee, my tears didn’t quit.

They got worse.

I cried at the reunion. With relief.  Shaking with it.

It took hours for the ball in my stomach to go away.  I tried to hide it from the kids (it wasn’t very successful) but the agonizing pain in my body was partly from the unbearable pain in my head that I couldn’t shake.

But she was back. It took about 20 minutes. It felt like 20 years.

I hope it never happens to another child but it will.

It does all the time.

Maybe these tips can help.

  1. If you have a camera-phone take a picture of you and your child together before you enter a crowded place so you have current clothing and id to show.
  2. So these are temporary tattoos you can put on your child in case they are ever lost.
  3. If you won’t do a temporary tattoo you can get a wristband too.
  4.  These are long-range walky-talky radios for kids who might not have a cell phone.
  5. Have a place set up for you to meet if you ever get separated.

This can show you that even a trip to IKEA can end up being life-changing. Take every precaution. You can never be too protective when your child’s life is on the line.

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2 Responses to losing your mind isn’t as bad as losing your kid

  1. becca July 16, 2012 at 11:00 AM #

    my sister, four years younger than me, has down syndrome. when she was little (like between the ages of 5-10), she used to leave the house to go looking for playgrounds. it got to the point where we couldn’t say “playground” or “pg” in her presence–she’d get the idea in her head and just leave the house, not waiting to find out if there were actual plans to visit the playground or if anyone wanted to go with her. it wasn’t so bad when she just left home (the nearest playground was 3 blocks away and we lived in a quiet neighborhood), but it was slightly more troublesome when we were getting ready to leave church one day and we realized she’d slipped away while everyone else was drinking coffee. or when we were on vacation in washington dc staying with friends of my parents, and she wandered out of their house (where we had just arrived the night before) and started wandering through a totally strange neighborhood. losing any kid is alarming but losing a girl with a severe speech delay, no knowledge of her phone number, no fear of strangers, and who doesn’t know how to cross a street alone is its own special kind of panic.

    funny story: me and my sister used to sleep on a hide-a-bed in the basement in the summers to get out of the heat. i woke up one night and she was gone, and of course i thought she’d gone to the playground and went to wake up my parents. we looked for her for 45 minutes before we realized she’d slipped down between the mattress and the back of the sofa, and was essentially asleep INSIDE the sofa (she hadn’t woken up somehow).

    my parents lucked out with me. i only wandered away at the mall and when we visited disneyworld. ;)

  2. Debbie July 15, 2012 at 11:04 PM #

    A few days ago our eleven year old daughter rode off on her bicycle without telling us where she was going. After a while it occurred to us that she wasn’t merely going around the block. My husband dashed off on his bike. Our friend walked in the other direction. After I got our wheelchair bound older daughter off the school bus, I, too, started to call out for her. I asked our mailman to be on the lookout for her. Given the heat I felt it was better to return to the porch. Then I saw that the light on our phone was blinking. Woman on voicemail said she’d call back. I grabbed our phone and practically willed for it to ring. My husband had switched from bike to car. The phone rang. The woman told me our daughter was with her. Just then my husband pulled up and his friend came back. They hopped in the car and got her. She had ridden a mile away and had crossed a busy street.. She told me later that she had not crossed with the light but, “I pedaled really fast.” When she returned, she asked if she could go back out on her bike. Not a chance. Grounded.

    Must be something in the air. You and I, we are the lucky ones, even if we did lose ten years from our lives.

    Debbie´s last post…A Bright Future Right At Home

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