I have gone back and forth on writing this for months now. Mainly because I didn’t want to look like a failure parent. It has taken me this long to let myself have some grace over this. Also because I knew I would be judged by putting myself out there, but the biggest part was because I was still in denial, you see I lost my daughter at Sea World. Lost. GONE. Couldn’t find her.
We are lucky enough to have a people move in next door that has turned into family and they asked us if we wanted to plan a weekend trip together. Of course we jumped on this. We planned for months. Booked our hotel. Loaded up the cars and took our drive to what was suppose to be a happy, relaxing, weekend getaway.
If you’ve never been to a Sea World, things really have changed and while I still feel terrible for the living conditions of the animals, it has become more educational. My daughters favorite parts were the Oceanic show with the killer whales and of course, Sesame Street Village. The girls right away saw the splash pad, so the parents made camp in the couple of free open chairs while the girls played in our sight. We (I say we because I was talking, and my husband turned around for a second, so as a team we failed) took our eyes off of her for literally a second. Our friend came over and said, “Hey do you know where E is. K came over to me and said she is gone?”
Panic consumed me. It was one of those movements where I got up. Sat back down. Got up again. Put my hands up. Put them over my mouth. Then I ran. I grabbed my youngest daughter and took off. My senses were turned off. I was just running around looking, not zoned in on anything. This lasted what seemed forever but in reality it was 20 seconds before I stood dead in my tracks and felt a calmness come over me. “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love power and a sound mind.” I snapped out of it and collected myself. I walked over to the stroller. Strapped my baby in, stood up and slowed down. I took a deep breath and that’s when I heard it, her scream. I look up and see her climbing over top of me.
At Sea World, there is a jungle gym right next to the splash pad area. It’s full of ropes, ladders, slides, bridges, a kids dream, you name it, they put it in there. I pass the stroller off to my girlfriend and told her I found E. According to my husband (who I’ve never seen so scared), I should try out for America Ninja Warrior because he’s never seen me move so fast and I apologize to parents if you saw me push past your kid, I was focused on a little girl in a polka dot bathing suit. I finally caught up with her and her eyes immediately new she was in the wrong. I didn’t yell. I didn’t spank. I didn’t say a word. I hugged her. Grabbed her hand and showed her the way out of the jungle gym. Once we were on the ground, I took her over to our neighbors where I made her apologize (as did we) and to understand why she was doing this. You know you have friends who love your daughter as their own because they didn’t say “it’s ok” or “don’t make her do that”, nope, they said “Hun, we were worried about you. We had people looking for you. If someone took you, we would have been so sad.”
My husband, who I thought was going to loose it emotionally, was at first speechless. He just hugged her and said “I’m sorry I took my eyes off of you.” As a parent in that moment you really are. Speechless. My entire life I said this will never happen to me. I feel I’m a good parent (I don’t cut the crust off of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches but hey) and this happened to me, to us. Was she in the wrong? You bet she was and we finally had a long talk on the way home, but we as parents are just as much to blame. If I can pass on any tips if this ever happens to you, stay calm. I am so thankful I had that voice come over me to tell me take a deep breath and zone in. Faith can move mountains or in this case, help you climb one.