About a week ago I took my daughter to dance. She’s only five years old and loves it more than anything. My usual routine is to walk her in and then go and wait in the car with her 1 year old brother until it’s time to pick her up. I do this because he acts as though he’s been locked up for ages. The moment I plant him on his own two feet he takes off like a rocket and doesn’t stop until I pick him up. With all of the other mommies sitting inside waiting quietly for their daughters, it was awkward to have my screaming child running all over so needless to say, this routine works out good for everyone.
But what happened last week was one of the scariest days of my life. I was in the car, sending emails and going over the final details of my upcoming novel, Like a Dream, and I lost track of time. When I finally looked at my watch, I realized that dance was over about a minute ago. So me and my toddler rush out of the car to get my daughter. While I’m speed walking up the steps, I notice a lot of her friends are already leaving with their parents. When I get inside, my daughter is nowhere to be found. I always wait for her by the door but this time she wasn’t there. I glance in the dance room and realize the next class is already inside. I frantically look around and can’t find her, so I ask one of the dance instructors behind the desk if she’s seen my daughter and she looks puzzled.
By this time, my heart is beating at an unhealthy pace and I’m sweating. With my toddler in tow, I rush outside to see if maybe she somehow missed me and is waiting by the car but she’s not there either. All I can think about is what if someone grabbed her? What am I going to tell my husband? This is all my fault. Mind you, I haven’t really had the talk with her about strangers or what to do if someone walks up and talks to her-mainly because she doesn’t like adults. She’s not friendly with adults at all, but she loves kids.
With my mind racing, I knew that if my child was kidnapped, I would self destruct. That horrifying notion of not knowing where your child is, has got to be the worst feeling in the world to a parent. I was frozen. I couldn’t move, or speak, I just stood outside the door…lost.
In the midst of my calamity, the door swings open, I whirl around and see my daughter’s face. The instructor told me that she was still in the dance room. Can I just say, I’m pretty sure I aged at least three years. I grabbed her and kissed her forehead, her brother hit her on the head, and all was right in the world. It took at least ten minutes for me to stop shaking.
I just can’t believe that within a matter of minutes or seconds, everything can change and there is nothing we can do about it–except learn from our mistakes and move on.