I check on my kids constantly. I'm a naturally anxious person, and it comes with the territory. When they're snacking, I check to make sure they're not choking. When they're bathing, I check to make sure they're not drowning. When they're sleeping, I check to make sure they're still breathing.

I'm sure it drives them nuts.

When we travel, I kick it up a notch. Because who needs trouble in a strange city or a foreign country, right? I watch them so closely, I almost don't blink. And yet, I have twice managed to momentarily misplace my daughter on vacation. Twice!

The first time it happened, we were at the beach in England. It was a rare sunny day, and every square inch of sand was covered with people, towels, and toys. We were building a sand castle down by the water, and my daughter (who was four at the time) decided she needed another bucket. I let her walk alone back to our blanket to get it while I watched. I blinked, and she was gone. She turned up two minutes later---having veered slightly off-course, but they were two of the longest minutes of my life.

The next time we lost her was at Disneyland, at the food court in Tomorrowland. My husband and daughter went to stand in line, while my son and I walked off to look for a table. At the last minute, my husband sent my daughter after me without communicating his intention to do so. I thought she was with him. He thought she was with me. This time she was missing for five minutes. Yes, we are still married.

I've learned my lesson. Now whenever we go somewhere big, crowded, or foreign, I make my kids wear I.D. bracelets with my cell phone number written inside (including the international dialing code when we are overseas). I coach them constantly. What should you do if you think you are lost? Don't wander, stay in one place. Who should you ask for help if you think you are lost? Someone who looks like a mother. What should you say to this mother? I'm lost, please help me call my Mom.

I'm sure it drives them nuts.

Anybody else ever temporarily misplace a child? You couldn't ask for a more sympathetic ear than mine.

Jamie Pearson is the publisher of the family travel website www.travelsavvymom.com. She swears she supervises her children to the best of her ability.

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Comment by Bridget Smith on January 8, 2009 at 7:17pm
Wild Rivers in Irvine has the coolest thing in Family travel. Waterproof bracelets that the kids and parents can wear. When you trying to find a member of your party, big/little/inbetween you could can your bracelet and see the location of the other members of your party. My three year old some how managed to give us the slip three times that day, but we were able to locate him very quickly. So cool and you can also order food since it's linked to your credit card :).

Another good tip is to take a picture of your kid at the beginning of the day. That way if your child gets lost you can show the themepark staff or other people who are helping to search exactly what your child looks like and what they were wearing.
Comment by InstantAmber on January 8, 2009 at 1:20pm
This is precisely the scenario that influenced Matt Berman to create InstantAmber. His story and our service was just featured in the Williamson Herald newspaper.

It's beyond frightening.
Comment by Soultravelers3 on January 8, 2009 at 12:44pm
Funny & wise as usual Jamie!

I soo know what you mean. Mine started to walk well at 6 months and could run faster than me by 9months. YIKES! While all the other babies would stick right next to mom, my teeny breastfed wonder would run football fields away from me and would get up on high things and jump off before I could get to her.

There was a period of time that I could not take her to the park because she was so fast and so wild & I am mobility challenged, even hubs had a hard time keeping up with her.

For years, with her enthusiasm and excess of energy, she was famous for getting away from everyone! She was like a Heisman trophy dodger who could get through a crowd like nobodies business. At 15 months, BOTH my over protective husband and I took her to the mall to see Santa. Some how she got loose and we immediately lost her in the crowd as she dodged and darted faster than a speeding light to the candy store she has spotted about a block away within the mall.

When she was closer to two Grandma walked her down to a busy resort area beach where she lives to buy her a pizza. Grandma made a vital error, she did not fasten her into the stroller, so when Grandma looked at her after ordering the pizza she was gone! She almost had a heart attack. This kid ran lickity split, through crowds of people down the whole boardwalk of the beach....luckily after a few minutes she returned running just as fast.

She was a kid who absolutely called for one of those leash things, but given her pure joy ( and knowing an adult who had one and still has nightmares about it), I just could not do it.

We had a huge house and 3 acres of land at home that gave her lots of the freedom that she needed, but when we came to Europe, she had to learn to do the whole walking with your hand in mom's or dad's. Trust me, cars in Paris or most going down cobble stone narrow streets, do not care if they hit a child or not. They expect you to watch out for them.

We still find ways to give her freedom and she is outnumbered with 2 stay at home parents to one kid, but she is never out of our sight any more. So glad we all survived her freedom pattern! It does make for MANY entertaining stories that she still likes to hear!
Comment by Megan Calhoun on January 7, 2009 at 8:46pm
This is so scary when this happens! My husband and I took the kids to the Discovery Museum on Sat. We were playing in one area and the next minute I know, Stella was gone! At first, you think "oh, she has to be around here somewhere." But, after 5 minutes of looking everywhere, your mind starts to think the worst -- someone has kidnapped her!!! I was running to the front desk (which felt like a mile away) to scream for a "lock-down!!!!!" when I looked to my left and there she was, wondering around looking for mommy! I've never been so relieved! God, I'm so getting those I.D. bracelets!!!! Also, great idea about a meeting place. My parents did that when I was a kid and I always laughed - now, as a parent, I so get it!
Comment by Sharlene on January 7, 2009 at 7:06pm
We lost our 18 month old son at a water park for about 3 minutes once. A WATER PARK!!!!!!!!!!!! Longest 3 minutes ever. My husband left my 8 year old niece to watch my son while I was in the bathroom because he had to go. Well she is 8. And she got distracted. Luckily we found him and I didn't have to murder my husband in front of a bunch of teenagers in bikinis. Lets just say he was at my beckon call for the rest of the day. I feel faint just thinking about that one.
Comment by Lyn Mettler on January 7, 2009 at 12:11pm
Outside school one day, my 4 yo son ran ahead of me toward the car. After I had turned and spoken to another mom, I turned around and he was no where to be found!! I thought "Where could he have possibly gone that fast?" The other mothers were frantically helping me look for 5 minutes or so. Suddenly, a little girl pointed him out in our minivan. Somehow, he snuck in, shut the door and was hiding in there. Geesh, little boys!! :)
Comment by Kristen Andrews: Featured Contributor of Style on January 7, 2009 at 11:21am
This is a great idea! during the summer my MIL turned her back for a few minutes and my son was down the street on a neighbors play equiptment, when others watch our kids they sometimes don't realize how fast they are at a young age. You can't take your eyes off of them even for a second.
Comment by Beth Ann Bentley on January 7, 2009 at 11:19am
Having four children, I am out numbered every time I leave the house. Yet I still love to do things with my children. When we are out in a large public place or traveling I slip a note into their shoe with my name and cellphone number. I coach the children if lost, to seek out a mom or a grandmother and tell them there is a note in their shoe. For the older children we also designate an "if I am lost meeting spot" that is VERY easy to spot. Like the giant killer whale hanging from the ceiling at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. (Yes I did lose one child there and this did work) The last thing to add is a new safety measure I just learned from a police officer/grandmother at my children's school: Choose a family password. If a stranger approaches your child with the aged old ploy of "come with me, your mom sent me, she is hurt and needs you..." Your child simply asks what the password is. ONLY if this stranger knows the password is your child allowed to go with him or her, if not SCREAM for help!

This is a great topic to discuss A LOT with your children. Thanks for bringing it up.
Comment by Lea Curtes-Swenson on January 7, 2009 at 10:02am
Jamie, this was priceless! Glad to hear your marriage survived. ;) I'm going to use your tips for sure. I want to email you a travel publicity opportunity... Will get your info on TMFC.
Comment by Lisa Willlard on January 7, 2009 at 8:30am
I love the idea. Thanks for sharing.

BELIEVE Success!

Lisa Willard




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