We have the cutest little one year old. Baby B isn't really a baby anymore, but he has the prettiest blue eyes with long dark, lashes and light brown hair. He tilts his head to the side and smiles at us, and we all say, "Aaah!" He's a skinny little guy, but his cheeks have just enough pudginess to them to retain his sweet baby face look.
Every day for the past 6 days, whenever I hold his tiny hand, or kiss his little cheek, I realize how very blessed I am to still have him. Last Friday, while visiting family for Thanksgiving, we did a little bit of sight-seeing in Kansas City. We went to Union Station to see its Christmas lights, and while taking photos at the big Christmas Tree, he wandered off. We were a large group, of 19 people, but in the distraction of family photos, none of us noticed him walk away.
I don't even remember who first said, "Where's B?" but soon we were all scouring the area for him. 18 people scattered, looking in different directions for his little camouflage jacket. It wasn't that crowded, and it had only been a few minutes since he climbed off my lap. We should have been able to see him, but we couldn't. Steve asked a security guard if he'd seen him, and I was standing in the middle trying to figure where else he could have gone, looking for staircases or other doors. I was trying not to panic or cry, but starting to feel like I was in a horrible nightmare.
Then I spotted a family walking out of a restaurant, holding a small child. I could see a gray or green jacket, and started walking toward them. I was still trying to decide if it looked like B when I saw both my parents head toward them. They were closer than I was, and I can't even begin to tell you how relieved I was when the man handed B to my parents and then they passed him to me. I just stood there hugging him. He was completely unphased by the whole situation, as if it were no big deal. I don't think I even thanked the family. I know my family did, but I didn't.
Apparently, B had wandered around the other side of the tree and into that restaurant. He'd just walked straight to the back and into the kitchen. The man who brought him to us had seen him walk through the restaurant and had kept an eye on him. He told the kitchen staff he thought he knew where B belonged, and then he brought him to us. Every time I think about that, I realize it could have gone so many different ways. I truly thought someone had snatched him. But even though he had just wandered off, someone still could have taken him, or we could have had to wait to speak to police to prove we were his parents, he could have been hurt, or he could have just been scared and crying.
This isn't the first time one of our children has wandered off in a public place. Our children seem to have an adventurous, curious streak and not enough fear of strangers and strange places. We are usually so vigilant about keeping track of them in public, because of that. We usually have him in a stroller and we are the not-so-proud owners of two different child harnesses, though we haven't used them in years. But it only takes a moment.
I have been thinking about blogging about that all week long. The gratitude for his safety is so strong and I know God had his Hand on him last Friday. But the embarrassment that I am "that mom" who lost her kid in a public place is also strong. To be honest, my sister had just asked me how I keep track of them all not ten minutes before that. I told her I count constantly and usually walk at the back of the group. And then, just ten minutes later, we were searching for him. Not the best testimony of a large family, are we?
You can bet we had buddies assigned for the rest of the night, and Steve and I never let our youngest two out of our sight or arms' reach again that evening. I won't be lazy about getting out the stroller next time, even if we are holding up the group. And when I snuggle little B to sleep tonight, and kiss his forehead, I will once more give thanks to God for keeping him safe and letting me keep him. He is so very precious, and God is gracious to this messed-up mom.