Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Lost Her, But Didn't Lose It.

We took the kiddos out to Austin's Auditorium Shores for New Year's Eve.  We've been to this place several times for concerts and whatnot.  Typically there's a family-friendly event going on and bonus, they're usually, if not always free. 

This was no different.  Live music, a rave inspired neon light circus show, food vendors, and capped off with a fireworks show.  We had no intentions of sticking around for the fireworks since they happen at 10pm and my kids are still too young to know that Mom and Dad gypped them in any way.


Most importantly, they got to play with other kids and have a little freedom.  That freedom came with a set of eyes on each kid at all times.  Declan doesn't stray far, nor can 17-month-old legs carry him very fast, so his supervision was left to my 28-week-pregnant-with-triplets wife.  Berlin on the other hand has the energy and speed of a 3-year-old.  She'd go pretty far away before she looked back to see if I was still around.  This led to her going further and further each time because I was following her.

This thought flashed through my head a couple times: Give me a machete, a ski mask, and some creepy piano music and Jason Vorhees and I are just a blood lust apart. I'd walk, determinedly, but not quickly and keep pace with her with no issues.  She'd run off too far and I'd grab her and turn her around with a stern warning not to go to far away from us.

With over a thousand people around and it being dark by this point, maybe 7pm, I wasn't completely comfortable to just let her run.  That said, I was going to buy her one of those little lighted, elastic, star chaser things that all the other kids were playing with, shooting into the air.  That's what started the running to begin with...she was chasing the stars.  I was digging in the diaper bag for my wife's wallet and took my eyes of her for 15 seconds tops.  She was gone.

Panic hit very quickly.  My eyes began darting around the field where she was.  I alerted Tina and took off walking.  She was wearing a longish layered skirt over her jeans, I figured her silhouette would pop for me as I began searching.  I made my circuit around the main field twice.  Each time expanding farther than the last.  I'd check back with Tina ever minute or so.  Still nothing.  I then weaved through the lines at the concessions.  Weaved through the circus area. 

I had to keep my mind from reeling with the possibilities.  Like, why did we let her be so outgoing?  She has no fear of strangers.  I thought it would be better for her to be out going than become an introverted emo.  What the hell is wrong with me? What kind of parent loses their child?  Wait, that cop that was next to us earlier knows what she looks like and who we are...bunch of red heads can't be that easily forgotten, right?  I had to stop it when my search expanded to the lower (stairs involved) parts of the field leading to the drop off to the running path along the river.  Oh crap, the river.

No, surely she wouldn't have gone this far.  This is a lot more than she'd do right?  Nope, when she runs from me at the house, it's five houses or so before I catch up to her usually.

She's the type to stop and call out for Daddy until I reappear when she realizes I'm not there.  She did it twice when a person stood between us this night.  Better check back with my wife.

Sure enough, there she was, strapping Berlin into the wagon with Declan.  That relief wiped away all anger I felt toward her and especially me at that moment.  Apparently, she was searching for us too.  Tina found her about 20 feet from where we were looking through the people sitting on the blankets.  Thank you freaky hippie types for not stealing my child.

I stormed off puling the wagon for a minute while I decided what to do next. 

Berlin asked where we were going.  I stopped the wagon and told her "we're leaving because you ran off.  You cannot run off without us."  I got an "oh, ok."  I'm not sure what I should have done or what I should have expected of her.  Spanking didn't seem appropriate when all I wanted to do was hold her.

We hung out in a different area for another half hour where the kids were a little easier to corral.  Later we stopped by the giant Moon Tower Christmas Tree before heading home.  Tina and I didn't really talk about it much other than acknowledging that she doesn't mind nor do we pay close enough attention to have five children in a month.

I'm glad I didn't hit that parental melt down mode that I felt coming on during the whole search.  How the hell do teenagers do this and not accidentally get their kids killed?  I'm supposed to be the responsible one in this arrangement of parent and child and damn did I just luck out.

Happy Friggin' New Year.

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