/ Advice for parents
Not advice exactly, but three mistakes I made that might help someone down the line.
If you have youngish children:
1. Listen to your inner voice. If something snags at your subconscious, even if it doesn't make sense and you don't know why, stop and work it out.
2. Have a recent, good quality, photo of your child.
3. Have two phone lines open and agree a protocol for using them.
Daughter is in running club. Training on a Sunday is in park a few miles away.
I drove her over, pulled up and saw some green tabards (club colours), dropped her off and drove away.
Half way down the side road from the park, something niggled my mind. I stopped, but couldn't work out why and drove off.
I got home. The niggler hadn't gone away. I had a cup of tea. I looked in the diary - no training. Bugger. I drove back.
Noone in carpark. Noone in sight. I rang daughter's phone. No answer.
I rang home. Daughter's phone is at home. We agree that she's probably caught a lift back with a friend (others had turned up hence the green shirts).
I go home again.
A while passes. She's left her phone at home, but probably friend is dropping a series of kids. We call likely friends. Nobody has scooped her up, but one family saw her.
I go back to the park. No one around. I call home. We agree to call the police.
My partner calls the police - and is asked "has she ever gone missing before?" - no; then "do you have a high quality recent photo?". They're putting all cars out and calculating an expanding drive-radius. It all gets very very real in an instant.
I'm unaware of my partner being floored... because she's on the landline to the police and her mobile is on silent. I ring and ring and get voicemail. I need to ring, because I have found daughter.
In the saeconds after being dropped off, daughter had spoken to mates and found trianing cancelled. She tried to catch up with me as I drove off. When I stopped halfway down the lane, she almost got to the car... but then I pulled away and didn't notice her. she was upset by this, and walked into the fringes of the wood to hide her tears and wait the 2 hours until she thought I'd come back. When I did, she was looking the wrong way and didn't see the car, and I didn't see her.
I called the police directly to tell them all was well, but they said they couldn't contact the team that had by now gone to my home.
Finale is that tearful daughter and dad run into living room where 2 PCs are getting details and consoling mum.
A phone at home. A phone on silent. Looking the worng way. Not checking the diary. Not listening to the inner voice that remembered the cancellation but didn't poke it into consciousness. All trivial stuff... but easily the most terrified I've ever been.
Sounds horribly scary. Glad it all had a good outcome. Glad I don't have kids to worry about!!
Nightmares are made of this.
Glad it's sorted
Phew, glad all turned out OK. We've had instances like this at Scouts where someone has dropped their kid off without realising we are meeting elsewhere that night, they've driven away leaving a kid outside a locked Scout HQ.
I am sure you will do this in future but perhaps another piece of advice would be to make sure you pass them over to the person who has responsibility for them for the activity.
Sweating more than when watching Alex H make THE crux move . Glad all ok but would certainly leave me shaken . Classic Swiss cheese theory of accidents / incidents: One small thing leads to another and another , when they all line up you have a situation.
Phew tho’ !!
To add to your list:
1) Handover protocol - if they’re not old enough to take care of themselves, always hand them over to someone who is.
2) Have a plan for situations like this and make sure the child knows it well. What are they to do if they get stuck by themselves somewhere and can’t contact you by mobile? Stay where you last saw them? Go to a pre-arranged location and wait for X hours before going to backup plan? Something else? Make sure you have this plan. A bit of a lost art with modern mobile phones but as important as it ever was.
3) Make sure child knows your phone number so they can use a friend’s phone.
4) More of a driving comment but check all your mirrors before pulling away.
> I am sure you will do this in future but perhaps another piece of advice would be to make sure you pass them over to the person who has responsibility for them for the activity.
You're right of course...but there was a gaggle of club adults on the field on dropping - but they were the earlier group just about to leave. When she had chased after me and hidden away for a little cry, they'd gone.
Someone else has mentioned checking mirrors - I do, but I'm looking for vehicles and she was perhaps 150-200m back - close enough to see the car but not for me to notice her on the pavement.
Bottom line for me is stuff can go wrong in quite imaginative ways, so having a plan that will cope with some of it is useful.
The police were *amazing* by the way; all five of us had a bit of a cry!
> 1. Listen to your inner voice. If something snags at your subconscious, even if it doesn't make sense and you don't know why, stop and work it out.
This. And not only in this sort of situation. Any time you are busy and under pressure to be getting on with something else (which tends to be most of the time)!
Very glad it worked out for you!
Just something to consider as well as your list.
Depending on the age of child and your assessment of their ability to differentiate when it might be wise or not to ask for help from a stranger - try introducing the concept that it is ok sometimes asking strangers for help but the child should choose the stranger. You can create your own list of how they choose the stranger such as adult female with children first, house with well kept garden etc etc.
Yes. Always stay put in the last place. Or find a ‘responsible’ adult. Eg shop assistant etc.
I’m surprised the police didn’t put someone static at the car park in case she came back.
> I’m surprised the police didn’t put someone static at the car park in case she came back.
I was there!
Ah. Ok. That bit wasn’t clear. Can see that now.
Sounds very scary indeed. Worst nightmare as a parent.
Your advice is good but i'd add about insisting they carry their phone with them at all times and if it's a smart phone, activate the find my friends app. You can then track exactly where they are.
Obviously in this case she'd have just called home.
Glad it was a happy ending
Think back to when you were a kid in the pre-mobile days...
Get her to memorise key phone number/s and teach her how to make a reverse charges call.
Also if you regularly drop her off at running maybe agree a safe place she can wait should this ever happen again (or you for whatever reason are late picking her up).
Also, kudos to you for coming on here and spreading some experience and reflecting on your mistakes : )
Base Jumper Tom Erik Heimen and trail runner Kilian Jornet "race" up & down the iconic Romsdalshorn (1550m) in Norway.