Eye on the Piper

I lost Piper tonight. For maybe three minutes. It was enough to make my mommy heart panic. We were downtown with friends listening to an outdoor Irish Rock band. It was a perfect summer night: kids were playing tag, parents stood in clusters drinking beer, we knew all the songs. And then. Just like that. Piper wasn’t in sight. She’d been told to stay on the grass. Between sentences I counted my kids. 1-2. 1-2. Sissy. Piper. Sissy. Piper. Sissy. Piper? I scanned the outlines of the grass. I walked from corner to corner peeking behind groups of kids. No Piper. I saw her Daddy cross the green lawn. “Where’s Piper?” he said.

“I don’t know,” I said. “I’m scared.”

“I’ll find her,” he said because that’s what he does.

We went in opposite directions and kept eye contact. The band started back up after their break. Piper wasn’t on the lawn anymore. Then it hit me. Piper would go hear the band. She would dance. I walked to the front of the band stand. She wasn’t there. Then I scanned the crowd for dogs. Because if Piper wasn’t up front with the band and she wasn’t back with the kids, she’d be with the dogs. Then I saw her. Her entire body was curled up on the cobblestone street spooning a huge St. Bernard. He was twice the size of Piper. She took off her headband and tried to put it on the dog. He licked her face. I grabbed Piper by the wrist and hauled her out of the St. Bernard’s lap. I told myself to calm down, to breathe, to be grateful. Piper was never in danger. My heart was.

“You scared me, Piper. You weren’t supposed to leave the grass. You can’t run off without telling me where you are.”

“I was right there,” Piper said, pointing to the dog. “I was right there.”

And she was. It wasn’t far. It was just too far for me.

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10 thoughts on “Eye on the Piper

  1. Oh I know that feeling all to well. Both Sofie and Sara have done that and the sheer panic I felt is almost too much to handle. I am so glad she was safe and your heart can get back to normal.

  2. It doesn’t matter where you are you still panic! I couldn’t see my Charlie for all of about 1 minute while at school picking up my six year old. Even though I knew he would never get lost as someone always is around to fetch lost toddlers I still panicked!

    • The panic seems such an innate reaction. Our mind races to dark places. Charlie was fine. Piper was fine. But I suppose one day they’ll really be out of our sight, right? Oh the ways parenting prepares us.

    • Thanks for sharing this, Will. My favorite line is “I do not ask her.” I love that resolution. Our own crazy fears are our own. Of course all of our girls are fine. But it’s the what if that sends the panic. I suspect it’s bigger than the moment.

  3. That can be really scary. Sometimes, my daughter hides from me in the house and even in the back yard. She thinks it’s funny, but for a split second when she doesn’t answer my calls, it gives me a heart attack. Ah the joys of motherhood!

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