I lost two kids today. Caleb and Jack. Gone.
It had been a hectic morning. Where's my uniform shirt? Am I supposed to wear red shorts today? Are we going to get to school early so I can play like when I ride the bus?
We arrived so early, in fact, we had front row seats in the auditorium. Front row seats with a 3 year old and 1 year old, hmmm … I informed Jack before the show started that if Caleb began to cry I would exit to the right and that he was to follow me without a peep. Perfect plan, right?
Needless to say we spent the entire program in the back of the auditorium, where Caleb cried and thrashed and I hissed at Jack to stop stomping up and down the risers. Caleb's wails were so loud at one point that I stepped outside a nearby door. Only to learn that it locked behind me. With Jack still inside. Ugh! I raced around the auditorium, slipped back in and crouch-walked my way past camcorders to where Jack was still (thankfully) sitting.
By the time we got back to Parker's classroom for the tea and cookies, I felt as though I'd run a marathon. Dispensing insane amounts of sugar to my three boys, I sighed with relief and allowed myself to relax and socialize with some of the parents. I was so proud of my guys. Parker was helping Jack with his candy wrappers; Caleb was toddling contentedly behind them. The classroom was filled with parents, children, and festive decorations. Christmas music was playing. It was wonderful. I met one of Parker's classmate's parents with their newborn baby. Did I want to hold him? Um, is the Pope Catholic?
So there I am, precious newborn babe in my arms, chatting it up with the parents, when I look around and notice I don't see Caleb or Jack. Hmmm…I bent to look under tables. Surely they were behind that couch. Under a desk? They can't open the doors, can they? No one would have allowed them out, right?
I handed the sweet baby back and fought the panic rising in my chest. "Jack?" "Caleb?!" "Has anyone seen my one year old and three year old?" Blank stares. "I'm not going to freak out," I squeaked.
I hastily kissed Parker goodbye and hightailed it out of the classroom frantically searching the halls. A teacher at the end of the hall wearing a Santa hat and smile said, "Oh the boys in the striped shirts? They're with ______ (in my panic I neither heard nor cared about the name)." I raced down the hall in the direction he pointed. Dead end. I ran back to the teacher, heart pounding. "Oh," he said absently, "I'm sure they probably took them to the front office…"
More running. Darn you double stroller and slow elevator! I burst through the door to the office to see the boys happily wandering around, staff smiling.
"I'm so sorry!" I panted. "I-I didn't realize they got out - could get out! I-"
I swooped them into my arms and kissed their faces. Then to Jack, "How did you get out? Did you open the door? Did you let Caleb out??"
"I jus wanted go in the hallway. I'm jus sorry, momma."
Never have I been more grateful to live in Singapore. Some call it "Disney with the Death Penalty." It is beautiful, clean, and thanks to their extremely harsh punishments for breaking the laws, it is ridiculously safe.
No one was at all concerned that I had misplaced two very young children. What?! For once I was grateful I wasn't in the States. That said, I am pretty sure I am going to need to put Jack and Caleb on leashes when we are in public. Sheesh!