I had the pleasure of taking my son, Jake, to the Panthers game a couple weeks ago. He had been to a couple games already in his short little 4-year old life, but this was the first one where it was just the two of us. We had club seats and made a big deal out of it. I am a HUGE Panther’s fan and wasn’t sure how things would play out … i.e. how much of the game would I really get to see or would we constantly be up and down for drinks and potty and then endure the unending stream of questions “is it over yet, when can we go home??” I was pleasantly surprised at his sudden interest in the game, players and even trying to understand the rules. I got such a kick out of his “taunting” the players and he even took the cue from the fans seated in front of us to bang his seat when it was 3rd and long for the other team!
So at half time we head up to the club level to hit the bathrooms and grab a drink. As we walk through the doors, we are instantly hit with a rush of people walking by and I have to grab Jake’s hand to keep him close by. Okay – so this is where my real fear sets in: what if I lose my son in this crowd of people?? I can picture it now … some excited fans walk by, jostling into us. His hand slips out of mine and he is carried away by a sea of strangers as I catch just a glimpse of his panicked little face. Then a stranger approaches him and offers him candy to go away with him …. (this is were you would see the words “over dramatization of actual events” flash across the bottom of the screen!) I know, I know – I’m probably being way over paranoid (don’t even get me started on freak accidents that will probably NEVER happen … I’m obsessed with them but that’s a whole other topic). I think it’s this crazy mom gene that kicks in once you have kids – you just can’t help it!
Anyway … on to the point of my post today. We’ve picked up a couple little tricks and tips along the way that I thought I’d share with you all, specifically to help in the situation where we find ourselves in a large crowd of people and have the potential to lose a child. We started putting a business card (or something along those lines) with our cell phone numbers written on it in Jake’s pocket as soon as he was able to walk. Then if he gets lost, he should give that to someone so they could call us. Obviously, the older he’s gotten, the more reliable that method becomes. We’ve also struggled with the “don’t talk to strangers” rule. When you get lost, everyone is a stranger! So we tell him to find another mommy to help him, figuring that would be the safest bet. We also work with him constantly to memorize my husband’s cell phone number so if there ever is a situation where he doesn’t have the business card in is pocket, hopefully he will remember that.
I know there are several other things you can do to protect your child, however I don’t have any personal experience with any of these. There are programs like Kidsafe Id that provides both the kids and parents/caregivers an ID card. They promote the value in parents having a card as well so you don’t have to rely on your memory in a panicked situation but rather can give all the info to law enforcement to start looking for your child immediately. The Panther’s have a “Tag a Kid” program where you sign up for it on game day and your child gets a wrist band to help event staff escort your child back to their seat. I think most major events have similar type programs.
Hopefully none of us will ever have to face the traumatic event of losing a child, but it never hurts to try and be prepared. Please share any tips you may have or let us know if you’ve tried any of the programs mentioned above. And I hope everyone has a safe and Happy Halloween tonight!