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What Does Your Child Know about Getting Lost?

July 27, 2018

Another Way for week of July 20, 2018

What Does Your Child Know about Getting Lost?

The little girl was not more than two or three at most. Still wearing diapers, I’m quite sure. She first attracted my attention because there was no adult hovering nearby, and she looked a little lonely or lost. She didn’t seem upset, but was gazing about, and trying to climb up a small slide the wrong way (not the stairway part). Then she gave that up and came back down. And looked around as if looking for someone.

There was no adult or even older sibling hanging around.

What do you do? I told my own youngest daughter who was with me that I couldn’t see a parent or adult connected to the child and my daughter began to look around with me, and agreed that the child seemed lost.

The playground was modern but some of the structures were laid out in such a way it was almost impossible to keep near your child or children. Two of my own grandsons played nearby under the super vigilant eye of their father with whom we were hanging out, since their mother, my oldest daughter, was resting on a park bench. She’s about six months along and it was the end of a hot July day. Enough said.

Still no grown up in the girl’s vicinity. My youngest daughter stated what I felt: that I should approach her as a “grandma with children”—which is a line from a safety song about getting lost, from my daughters’ own childhood. All our girls knew “The Safety Kids” songs from a book and album, teaching the basics of safe behavior for small children. If you find yourself lost, the song said, “Look for a grandma or mother with children. Ask her to help you I’m sure she’ll be willin’.” (Sorry for the reverse chauvinism here, but women helpers still seem a little safer bet in the event of being lost.)

I headed over to the child, her curls framing adorable eyes and face. “Are you looking for your mommy?” I ventured. She nodded and I said “I’m a mommy and grandma,” with my best we-can-help-you look. She looked somewhat comforted. Then I added, “Do you have a mommy or daddy here?” She said “a mommy and a daddy” and then another woman entered the search, seeing/hearing us chatting with the child. “I saw her with a man with a T-shirt that said, ‘Eagles’ (Philadelphia)” she noted helpfully. My daughter swung into action saying “I’ll head around the area and look for that.”

But no luck. Minutes passed. Finally a man appeared who seemed pleased to see the small girl. With an Eagles T-shirt. There was no big rush of “Oh, you were lost!” or “Here you are!” but the look on the child’s face was nevertheless one of real relief as she smiled at her daddy. I kind of mumbled that we were trying to help; he seemed chagrined as he said the park was not designed the best for keeping track of kids.

Happy ending and while most child disappearances that result in Amber Alerts or missing child posters are the result of domestic issues, there is still real stranger danger out there. I realized afresh how easy it is for someone to start a conversation with a small child. That’s when the second song our daughters learned from that album comes in handy:

“Sometimes you just gotta yell and scream; Sometimes it’s the only thing to do! Noisy as a firetruck, you just gotta open up, and get the crowd’s attention turned to you.”

Most kids yelling in public spaces are having a meltdown, but sometimes they should not be politely ignored. Steal a glance and it will likely be obvious whether someone is intending harm with a child.

As you head to the park, playground, or pool this summer, keep this true story in mind and perhaps teach your children these songs (on YouTube) or any other memorable song or rhyme that helps them know what to do if they get lost. Or if, heaven forbid, someone tries to do them harm.

A family (not mine) I photographed earlier for a Valley Living feature story.


Have you ever helped a lost child? How did it go? Have you lost one of your children? If you have comments or stories to share, comment here on the blog, or send to me at or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  






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