Last Saturday, we visited the California State Fair.
Do you remember this photo, below, from last year? It was my blog header for quite a while. This year, the bear was too hot (Greta was tough) and it was painted... it's no longer gold. It's funny, Greta looks so much older now and last year, John Michael didn't even need shoes yet!
The State Fair is something we look forward to every year.
This year, however, something very scary happened.
After lunch, we went inside the building where all the County exhibits were displayed and somehow John Michael escaped and wandered away.
We LOST John Michael!
I was the first to notice he was missing and immediately sent the big kids and my husband in different directions to find him. The scary part is that he won't respond verbally when we call him. At home, he may come walking over, or turn his head, but in a huge exhibition hall, there's no way he'll come to us if something catches his eye and forget about telling someone his name or our names.
We found Security and just as we finished describing him, a female Security Officer came walking down the stairs with John Michael in her arms. He climbed stairs to the 2nd floor, which none of us had even thought to check! My heart was racing, my senses on high-alert, but I did remain fairly calm and collected. Once he was in my arms, however, I cried... HARD! We'd failed him. We'd failed to protect him. We took our eyes off him for a split-second. It was the worst 5 mintues of my life! This is how kids drown... I thought to myself. Thank God he didn't get outside of the building!
I've always thought child "leashes" were strange, but now I can see why some parents resort to them. I'm not there, yet, and I pray this never happens again. But when we got home, I ordered Velcro ID bracelets (Vital ID Inside) for John Michael and Greta as well as rubber bracelets with their names imprinted from another company. I don't know which he'll prefer wearing (hopefully it won't be a struggle!) I'm not risking our kids being unidentified if we should get separated again. For me, the Fair was over. We went home, everyone took a much-needed rest, and Doug took the older 3 back to the Fair after dinner for rides and fireworks.
But let me say... everything was fine before John Michael wandered off, which was around 2:30. When we first arrived at 10 am, we headed to the Youth Art Exhibition Hall where Nic picked up his 2nd place ribbon for his oil pastel snake eye. You can see the snake eye over his left shoulder hanging in the display case. That is my favorite part of the Fair... seeing kids' art. So much talent in one room. We even got two free tickets and free parking because of his award. Nice little "bonus".
John Michael wasn't too interested in touching the baby alligator...
Thank God he made it back to us safely and quickly!