A Parent’s Worst Nightmare: Part One

7 Nov

What Terrifies Me

A person who was in the middle of reading my book asked me what terrified me as a new parent. Initially I had no answer. I am not typically a person who is easily terrified. But, as I began to think about it, I started to remember some specific situations. One in particular was when Ian was quite little, about 6, and I lost him on the main concourse at a baseball game in Cincinnati. A parent’s worst nightmare, I’m sure. At first I was certain that I would make eye contact within a few moments so I didn’t register much concern. However as the minutes dragged on I began to feel subtle blades of panic like a sharp knife.

Growing Panic

I tried to dismiss this rapidly growing panic but it was not possible. My system was reacting on a cellular level and even though I knew intellectually that I needed to remain calm and present I was still being overwhelmed with this strange and incredibly powerful emotion to which I had little experience previous to this time. As I was mustering my resources to remain cognizant and aware of my immediate place and time among several hundred wandering people, I was quickly being taken over by terror, my own terror.

Terror Turned To Hope

Between the second or third wave of this self inflicted terror I remembered that I had once told Ian to go find a policeman if he was ever lost or separated from me. Terror was momentarily displaced by hope and by my diminishing belief in reason. I reluctantly gave up my person to person search and headed for the administration office at a run. Once there I explained my emergency and within moments Ian was found.

All’s Well That Ends Well

He had indeed sought out a police officer and was comfortably hanging with him waiting on me to show up. I didn’t want to infuse the situation with unnecessary drama so I thanked the police officer gratefully, grabbed Ian’s hand, and headed for the game. I was noticeably shaking and still reverberating from the enormous scare but I calmly told Ian that his remembering to go find a police officer was really good and was the exact right thing to do. I apologized for losing track of him and told him he did good job.



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