If you were listening to BBC Radio Wales this morning, you would of heard me talk about my son wandering off.
In the news recently Cardiff mum Chareen Baker woke to find her 6 year old son had somehow woke and left his home in only his pyjamas. When Chareen was woken by a younger sibling asking for a drink, it was then she found her 6 year old’s bed empty!
“I then went downstairs and the front door was open. It was horrible, absolutely heart wrenching. There were so many irrational thoughts going through my head and I didn’t know what to do.”
Thankfully her son was found safe by a passer-by walking their dog, but it still must have been pure hell for this women.
My heart really went out to this lady when I read the Wales Online article. It was only a fortnight ago that my own son went wandering!
Now it was nothing like the ordeal this poor mum went through but I could relate to her.
We had some smashing weather here in Cardiff over the last few weeks, on one of these beautiful sunny days we decided to go for a picnic down Roath Park.
All was good, the kids were playing happy and we were due to meet some family later in the day for coffee by the lake.
In the back of my mind I knew to be vigilant, there have been a few stories about childless adults hanging around the park and they allegedly approached a child once. So with this fresh in my mind I kept my eyes on the boys. I could see my children playing football happily in front of me.
Ethan needed to use the toilet.
I took him and as usual asked him to come into the same toilet as me…he refused. He said he was getting bigger now and he wanted to use the toilet next to me.
Okay I said nervously, as long as you keep talking to me and if I am not outside the toilet by the time you finish then you must put your foot under my toilet door so I know you are there.
At first all was fine he was taking to me, then it went quiet.
‘Ethan, are you there?’ No answer, I shouted his name again only to have a reply from a lady who said she thinks she saw a little boy just leave the toilets.
My heart started to race, I quickly pulled up my jeans and didn’t bother to fasten the buttons. I ran out of my cubicle and ran outside. So many kids, so many kids running around…My head started to swirl, I felt dizzy.
I couldn’t see him, I ran back in the toilet, I lay on the toilet floor and looked under each cubicle door for his little feet. He was not there.
I started to panic, I tried to think rationally, he is a smart boy he wouldn’t go off with anyone but my head was consumed by horrible thoughts. Has someone taken him, what was he wearing? I started to get intrusive visions as worse case scenarios played out in my head.
A women with a child could see as was in distress, she offered to help me look for him. I must have been white as a sheet, I felt sick. I traced my steps back to where we were having our picnic.
There is Ethan playing football with his brother, completely oblivious that I had just been crying and panicking, thinking the worse.
At first I was angry that he had run off, I ran to him…tears rolling down my face. ‘Why would you do that to me, you ran off, I was so scared.’ He looked at me as if he had done no wrong. I couldn’t stay mad, I was a mass of emotions.
My hubby said that he thought I was right behind Ethan. I was not. I was a mess, running around a toilet with everyone looking at me.
When I had calmed down I had a little chat to Ethan. I believe that by giving him the responsibility of using the toilet alone he felt he could push boundaries and he decided to walk back to our picnic alone too.
I explained how this made me feel and that I was sorry I shouted but I said I was really scared. He promised not to do anything like that again.
That was the end of our talk.
I remember my mother talking about us wandering as children, pushing boundaries and not seeing the danger of walking about alone. Perhaps this is a part of a child’s development?
Has this ever happened to you?
How did you cope with it?