My mom’s company had their employee picnic this weekend. It is always a lot of fun and they do a really good job providing food and fun to the families. My mom always brings us along since there is so much stuff for her grandkids to do.
I was in line with the twins for lunch. It was a long line and they were bored. They wanted to play on the bouncy-slider-obstacle course thingy (yes, that is the technical product name for it. I checked). They had been on the slider for most of the morning. I could stand in line for food and see them, so I said “sure, go play until I get your food.”
Off they went.
I would catch glimpses of the boys as they went down the enormous slide and go running back to the front of the line. I chit-chatted with a lady in line about how mom’s always get stuck carrying all the food plates. Things were good.
It was my turn for food. I went through the line…taking my eyes off the slider.
I took our food back to our picnic blanket and doctored up the hot dogs. I caught Nathan coming off the slide and flagged him down. He came over to eat. I ask “where is your brother?”
“I don’t know.”
Our picnic blanket was at the very end of the slider, so we could see all the children coming off of it. I waited a few minutes so I could catch Gabriel coming off.
And I waited.
I told Nate to stay put and eat while I went to fetch his brother. Grandma was getting drinks with Anthony.
The bouncy-slider-obstacle course thingy was HUGE. I walked to the other end. No Gabe. I walked back to the other side, walked all around it, assuming that I was missing him mid-slide somewhere. No Gabe.
Well sonofabitch where did that child go?
I checked our picnic blanket to see if he had seen his brother eating and joined him. Nope.
The party had another regular bouncy, I headed for it. Nothing.
Maybe he went back to the food line looking for me? Nope. Not there.
This is when I started to panic.
I began scanning the crown of people enjoying their lunches looking for his little blonde head. I went back to the giant slider.
I caught my mom’s attention and told her Gabe was gone. We were at the beach. There were thousands of people, parking lots and a freeway nearby. Holy fuck, where is my baby?!
I started thinking about things he had said and I remembered him wanting to go to the play area. I headed that way. I was crying and in a panic.
Up ahead, on the other side of the playground, standing and crying because he had lost his mommy, was my boy! He was standing with two men who in my mind were going to die when I caught up to them. But Gabe spotted me and pointed. I waved! The men pointed at me and waved back. It seemed like an eternity before I reached them, but when I did I picked Gabriel up and hugged him hard. The two men ended up being SO very nice. They said they found him wandering around but saw he had a bracelet on and they were trying to find what party the bracelets were for. They were with a school group of children and kept him safe. I will be forever grateful for that.
I carried him back to our picnic crying tears of relief. Telling him how upset I was about him going off without telling me. He just said, “but I wanted to play in the park.”