For the first 20-ish months of Hazel’s life, I didn’t understand how someone could temporarily “lose” their child. Sure there are plenty of neglectful turds who should never have procreated…I can sadly see how and why they misplace their offspring from time to time. The more common and likely stories I hear from family and friends, however, are from good parents and these occurrences start innocently: “I was grocery shopping and only turned my back for a second,” or “We were walking through a crowd when he let go of my hand and started running after a blowing leaf,” etc, etc. We’ve all heard them.
But Hazel? No. She would never subject her mother to such stress. Clearly, she would know better. And even if she didn’t, what were the odds she would leave my side or sight for more than 0.8 seconds? Slim. She generally clings to my leg like a lemur, grips my hand like she’ll float away if she lets go, or mandates that she be carried – on the hip, on the chest, or if her father is present, on the shoulders. I should point out I am not complaining. I bask in the fact she enjoys and prefers to adhere to her parents. I know these days are numbered and I will soak up every bit of affection I can get.
The other reason I have thought it difficult to misplace the little one is the unprecedented noise that seems to accompany her. Even in the rare instances she isn’t at our side, she is generally talking (LOUDLY) to herself, singing, making animal noises, asking questions to nobody in particular (“Garbage man go bye-bye? WHERE ARE YOU GARBAGE MAN??”) or throwing/bouncing/dragging/breaking some sort of object along the way. At home, I have been able to calculate her proximity based on the decibels of her voice and know she is within sprinting distance should she become quiet – the this can’t be good quiet that every parent innately fears.
And yet in the past couple months, things have changed. She is becoming, dare I say, independent. She wants to explore on her own, she skips or sprints from shelf to shelf in stores, she wants to run 5 feet ahead on our walks and – the growing social butterfly that she is – wants to befriend nearly every normal or creepy person she encounters. More recently she has even started “reading” and playing on her own in silence. This wonderful milestone has allowed me to be slightly more productive, but has instilled the realization that maybe it’s not so hard for one to misplace their child.
To perpetuate this fear, I lost Hazel for the first time at home the other day. Now…just the point “at home” should highlight that I am prone to overreacting. Our house is relatively small. The unopenable-to-toddler doors were all shut and secure. I was cooking in the kitchen and therefore in the vicinity of all known sharp/hazardous objects. It was virtually impossible for her to truly be “lost” or get into danger. And yet, in a moment of hormonal panic, I couldn’t find our beloved child. While on a unique stretch of productive cooking and cleaning, I realized I had not heard – or seen – Hazel in 15-20 minutes. I looked down, had she simply been clinging to my ankles and they went numb and I forgot? No. I looked in the living room: Was she hiding behind the curtain, had she wedged herself between the chair and table? Nay. And so the extensive search began. I called for her, attempted bribes with cookies, offered to give her “Elmo” (her name for the ipad…don’t ask) and turned on her favorite cartoons in hopes of coaxing her out. No dice. After an eternal (55 second) and frantic search, I stumbled upon our previously fully clothed (sans shoes) babe in the very place I should have started:
…fake snoring and all.
The very next day while making a quick Target run (although, let’s be real…does a trip to the lovely land of red and white ever stay “quick?”), she pulled the same trickery. After a period of flailing 5 precious minutes into our trip, I let dear Crazy Cakes out of the cart with the agreement she stay “RIGHT by mommy” or risk terrifying consequences. And yet, while inspecting a maternity top that resembled a floral tarp, I looked down and….no Hazel. Despite my efforts discussed in the previous post, I muttered some foul four letter jargon and began the frenzied search while calling her name and yellowing out bribes. Nothing. Fortunately it wasn’t a minute before she emerged from the center of a clothing rack – no less than 10 feet away – happily chanting, “Mommy, I hide! I hide! Peek-a-boo!”
The moral of this rambling and unnecessary story is that regardless of intentions, kids are sneaky little animals that want to shorten your life one panicked moment at a time. It also seems pregnancy hormones make every incident 843% longer and more terrifying.
Although I confess I have passed judgment on the parents of children donning these gems, I now know what to get for the birthday girl next month: