This spring some girlfriends and I met up at the zoo. There were 4 adults and 7 kids. We were outnumbered and there were a LOT of people there that day. At one point, one of the kiddos got lost. Her mother was terrified. I stayed with the other six kiddos while the three moms went searching. It took about five minutes to find her, but it felt like forever. We were scared.
A week later I was at a busy indoor playground and I saw little boy in tears sobbing because he was lost. Security took him to the front and I could hear them asking him questions on what his Mom’s name was and what she looked like. The kid was too upset to talk, and he was only about 2.5 or 3 anyways.
It was at that moment I realized I needed to do something in case the lost child ended up being one of mine next time. So I found some of those event/party plastic wristbands (you can find them at Target or a party store) and used a permanent marker to write “My Mom’s Cell 612-555-5555” on them. And I use them faithfully – even when it’s my husband and I with the two kids – if it’s a busy place like the Mall of America (see the pic above) or the Zoo, my kids are wearing these bracelets.
Alex feels empowered by his bracelet. I always remind him about what to do if he gets lost or can’t find me. The answer is to find a worker (like a zookeeper!) or another Mommy and ask them to call his Mom’s cell phone and show them the bracelet. He’s very confident about it. We talk about how to identify Mommies (they have children with them) and not to go to Daddys (nothing personal, men, but women are the safer choice).
Of course I still watch my children very carefully, but I can breathe a little easier knowing they are branded with my info should we become separated. I always keep extra bracelets tucked into the diaper bag, and carry extra blank ones with a marker for my friends to use with their children if they want to do the same.
p.s. Okay, so this weekend at the zoo, I lost my oldest (4 year old) for about 45 seconds. My first thoughts were a) I’m glad he’s wearing his bracelet b) what if someone abducted him and c) crap – my cell phone is in the stroller – do I go back and get it or keep looking (I left it, along with my daughter, with my friend)? Happily, he came running up to me and was not nearly as stressed over it as I was. Scary? Yes. But I was glad he was wearing the bracelet and that he knows what to do if he’s lost.
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