Yesterday, we went to Happy Hollow Park & Zoo (which will be closing in July for a much-needed year of renovation, so we are trying to use our pass!) with our twins playgroup. It is a reunion of sorts - all the kids are in various preschools and/or activities, some moms went back to work full or part-time, our regular playgroup meeting time started to not be so regular anymore. We used to get together once a week at our favorite local fenced park, the fence being a necessity for a parent of twins aged 12 months - 3 years, the boomtime of our regular meetings, as the two toddlers inevitably run off in different directions if not contained!
The reunion week is being organized by my good friend whose twins are off from their preschool for a week between regular and summer school. So she has planned (and invited the playgroup to join her) for:
- Monday - Happy Hollow
- Tuesday - Bay Area Discovery Museum in Saulsalito
- Wednesday - Gilroy Gardens
- Thursday - a local park (our old haunt?)
- Friday - Monterey Bay Aquarium
I am still debating about which of these I can do solo (sanely) with my 3 kids. And I have to work some days. But I figured Happy Hollow would be a breeze. Especially since we have just recently been to Disneyland, coupled with my feeling more bold overall, this small little amusement park should be no problem, right?
In the first ten minutes, I lost Ben. We were playing with our friends by the shoe slide (ironic, I know, after all "There was an old woman, she lived in a shoe, she had so many children, she didn't know what to do"). I was doing my regularly scheduled internal count of my 3 kids (1, 2...) and Akemi says "Where's Ben?" Umm...he was just here...not here. I was pretty calm for a few minutes, but panic soon started to set in. I wander for a bit, then go back to the shoe, where Linda's been watching Ava and Lily, plop Ava in the stroller and take Lily's hand, saying "Ben's lost. We have to find him." The girls were very helpful, understanding intuitively that something was up.
I went over to the carousel operator and she called a report in. The manager came over. My inclination was to go look for Ben everywhere, but the manager convinced me to stay put - that way, they wouldn't then have to go look for me when Ben was found.
"He's wearing olive green shorts, a white shirt with an orange and green 'California' on the back (well, it is supposed to be on the front, but Ben has finally learned how to put his shirt on by himself and I don't have the heart to tell him at this point that it's on the wrong way), blond/brown hair, Spiderman shoes" is conveyed over the radio to all the ride operators.
I ask where the water is. No, not the water fountain, as the carousel operator answered. Water, as in, someplace he could have drowned. I don't think he would go into the water, but I have to be sure. You never know, right? Truly, I am mainly worried about him being along and scared and looking for me and not knowing what to do.
Akemi is looking too with her boys and in just a couple of minutes I spot her by the model trains...with Ben. They wave. He runs over to me and I hug him. He's really excited. He has no idea that Lily, Ava and I (and our playgroup and the rest of the park) have been looking for him. We are the ones who were scared. He tells me that he found a train and his mommy friend (Akemi). When I told Ben he had been lost, that we were scared and worried and were so glad to have found him, he started to cry. I felt terrible. Here I was, hoping he wasn't crying...and then making him cry! I didn't want to be the one to make him cry and I was glad that he hadn't been scared, but at the same time, I needed to let him know the rules - Stay Where I Can See You, Ask First Before Go To Look At Something Somewhere Else, We Have To Stay Together.
You know how Akemi found him? That backwards t-shirt he had on. She knew right away it was him. I guess breaking the rules can sometimes have unintended effects.