My child went missing.
I pride myself in being a safety and emergency manager. Never in a million years would I imagine finding myself in need of someone rescuing my family, yet even me, the mom who is prepared for any type of emergency, had a missing child. It can happen to anyone.
Earlier this summer I had this grand idea that I would take all four of my children to the Magic Kingdom, all on my own. They are 9, 7, 3, and 1. I was looking forward to the challenge. I normally take all four to busy places, however Disney would be a first.
The trip was going fantastic. No major hiccups. We successfully navigated the theme park just as planned, up until we were ready to exit the park.
And then, we were separated.
As we were exiting the park, the crowds started to thicken due to rerouted traffic because of a parade. In an instant, my oldest was separated from us by a group of about 15 people. I thought for sure we would meet up again at the end of the line where it thinned out (like 10 feet ahead), except we didn’t. My son was nowhere to be found. I asked a Cast Member if she had seen a boy matching my son’s description, but she could not recall. While she was unable to recall if she had seen him walk by, she acted immediately.
It felt like hours.
Soon we were greeted by a few other cast members, a manager, and a security officer. The cast members immediately started entertaining my other children. This was very helpful as they were worried about their missing brother. I kept as calm as possible on the outside, but on the inside my heart was racing. I kept giving his description over and over and showing a picture of him that I had taken earlier. Now, my 9-year-old is responsible and size-wise looks closer to 12 or 13 (the boy is only an inch shorter than me at 5’2), but he is still only 9.
As time passed, I became more nervous. I asked lots of questions about security procedures at Disney (let’s just say they are on top of the world with security, especially when a child is missing). Finally, I received a phone call from a cast member who had him with her. In total, we were separated for about 30 minutes. It felt like hours. However, I would learn that all my coaching on what to do when you are lost was not in vain.
A flood of relief
When we made our way over to the cast member who had my son with her, and she had nothing but praises for him on how calm and collected he was. Once he realized we were nowhere to be found, he immediately found the nearest cast member, and explained that he couldn’t find his family. He described all of us, gave our names, and address and phone number to the cast member. The delay ended up being that the cast member had to find a phone that dialed out of the park. The moment I saw him, I was flooded with instant relief and tears. This all turned to pride once I learned how he handled the situation. He thought I was going to be mad – I was quite the opposite. I was so proud that he followed the steps laid out in case of situations like these.
I hope no other parent ever loses their child, but it could happen to even the most responsible person. However, if it does happen, I hope the result is the same as what happened in our situation. The following tips may help you and your family reunite, if anyone is ever lost.
Teach your child:
- Your cell phone number (I did this with a song, it was a fun way to learn)
- Their address
- Your first and last names and help them practice shouting them. Explain that when lost they should shout your name, and you will shout theirs
- Talk with them about who is a safe adult to approach (in this case my son knew that a cast member with a name badge would be safe)
- What to say to a safe adult that they approach
- The importance of staying in one location
- Talk with them about stranger danger and even consider teaching them to yell “help call 911” if they are in danger, this will alert those around them
I hope to never experience getting separated from any of my children again, however from this experience, I have learned just how valuable teaching my kids these important tips. I hope you find this helpful. If you have additional tips, or a story about your child getting lost, please share with us below! We learn and grow with the help of others so all tips and stories are greatly appreciated!