Have you ever lost a child? I mean physically lost a toddler or younger child who could not yet recite your name or cell phone number? It is frightening to lose sight of your child in a crowded public place, like the zoo or local museum, especially younger children who may not yet know how to say his or her name, mom or dadís cell phone number, or even know who to ask for help. Yet with technology evolving daily a digital camera or cell phone camera may be one of the best lines of defense to help your child if he or she is separated from you.
I once lost my son in a crowded museum for children in Kirkwood, Missouri. We were in an adult supervised area where the entrance and exits are monitored by employees, as a parent is required to stay with the child inside the play area. The problem was the slides came down in different parts of this play area, so a child could go up one way and come down another. Another hindrance was the half walls that ran through the area not unlike a maze. The half walls were just tall enough a parent could not see over to the other side.
So when my daughter and son went up the stairs to the fun long twisty slides I did not think twice about it until my daughter who is 4 years older than her brother returned without her brother. As I began to look for my son I almost felt he might be just out of sight on the other side of the half walls and we were walking circles around each other. After a minute or two if not finding him myself I elicited the help of family who were with us that day and now had 5 sets of eyes looking for my little man.
I began to feel panic set in as the minutes ticked by without us finding him. So as I began asking employees for help, I then exited the play area to walk around the play area on the off chance he was outside the room. As I walked around from one point of entrance to the other I was telling myself in my head that too much time was passing and if I cannot locate him in another minute or so I would call 911.
I also reminded myself that upon entering the facility I had taken pictures of my children in front of the giant (floor to ceiling) wall of gumballs, so I had an updated picture of what my son looked like that morning. I could show anyone who would be looking for him exactly what he was wearing and what he looked like earlier that day. That was when the light bulb popped on inside my head and I realized how awesome technology truly is now.
When I took the picture of my son and daughter as we walked into the museum for children I had thought I was preserving another memory, and I was, but I was also capturing what my children looked like and what they were wearing that day. So I now had a visual reference for anyone who would be looking for my son. I could show anyone what my son looked like from the top of his head down to the tips of his toes, well at least down to his shoes.
Luckily I did not need to use my light bulb idea as I saw my son and my mother headed back into the play area at that same moment. Grandma had found him standing against a wall outside the play area looking uncertain as to how he had managed to arrive at his destination. I later learned he probably followed another family out of the play area and because he was walking behind or with other kids no one even questioned if he was part of the family.
Thankfully there was no foul play that day, just a crazy separation of the family unit, yet I learned a priceless lesson. Now I always take pictures of my children as we get ready to leave home. I make it a habit to take a full length body shot, and an up close picture of their face. This way if any of us get separated again I can show police or employees looking for them exactly what they look like and are wearing. The best part of technology is that today almost every cell phone has a camera included in the functions, so you do not need to invest money in a digital camera but simply use technology as it evolves literally right in our hands!