We spent an anxious three hours today.
Children One (almost 12) and Two (nine) went to a neighbourhood swimming pool with a mutual friend around 3:30. Two hours later, Child One and the friend came home. They didn’t know where Child Two had gone.
Child One told us that Child Two did not want to swim, and said she would hang out in the park. When it came time to leave, Child One could not find Child Two and assumed she had come home, so Child One and the friend came home alone.
We and our dear houseguest Stuart drove around for half an hour, in two cars to cover more ground, but we couldn’t find our daughter. We called the police and they sent over an officer to take a report.
Now, this wasn’t the first time something like this has happened. Last summer, all three of my spawn went to a pool and the girls lost Child Three. He was found hiding in a bush near the entrance to the pool. You’d think that the scholarship-winning Child One would have learned something from that, or from the babysitting certification course she took this past year. You’d think, wouldn’t you?
So, my gentle-hearted, beautiful – really, she is, objectively – Child Two was nowhere to be found. We returned home to meet the police officer, who was a mother herself. While I was livid with Child One for separating with her little sister, I was impressed with her ability to converse in French with the officer.
During that conversation, we learned that while Elvi (the wife) had assumed that the kids went to the Benny pool, the kids had actually gone to the pool by the hockey arena. That pool is farther from our home, which made us feel worse, for its distance, and better, because we’d centered our search around Benny.
The stepfather of the kids’ friend was out looking for Child Two. While the police interviewed Child One, he called: he had found and retrieved Child Two.
Child Two was extremely upset. She’d taken a nap under a tree in the park and when she woke up, the other kids had disappeared. She spent close to an hour alone, waiting. She didn’t ask a stranger to borrow a phone, including the pool staff, and she wasn’t sure how to get home. When found, she’d been wandering in the wrong direction.
You can’t help, in a situation like this, once in a while thinking the absolute worst. It happens. How could a family go on after a nightmare like that?
There is a punch line to all this. Child One’s plan for the summer is to make money running a babysitting service. I hope she doesn’t ask me for recommendations.