Saturday, June 16, 2007

Streets of Sand

I will never forget the sound of her scream.

Our little town blocks off the downtown street, fills it with sand, charges admission, lets our children go nuts with buckets and shovels and calls it the annual beach party.

The first time K and I went was two years ago when The Mayor had just turned one and I was pregnant with The Rooster.

The party was packed with people, children flinging sand in all directions and parents drinking beer as the sun went down and the heat of the day faded.

The instant the woman’s wailing began every parent at the party reached for their children and pulled them close. The sound of her agony was unmistakable. One of her children was missing.

Families that just moments before had been entangled with each other's plastic toys and sandcastles suddenly stood in solitary columns.

The frantic woman ran through the sand calling for her child, police joined in her search and no one was allowed to leave the enclosed beach area.

The still, quietness of the crowd was almost as chilling as the mother’s panic.

Finally the child was located and the party resumed, though it was subdued after that.

I remember imagining myself as that mother – hurrying my whole family away, my body shaking with fear and, once I reached the safety of my home, collapsing on the bed sobbing, unable to stop.

I have never forgotten the sound of her screaming or the way that all of the parents, ourselves included, recognized what it meant without having to be told.

Thankfully, last night held no trace of her fear.

The Mayor and The Rooster repeatedly yelled “BEACH PARTY!!!” the way a fraternity boy might yell, “KEGGER!!”

They played in the sand until they were too tired to play more and K and I carried them towards the exit.

Dance music was blaring from the speakers on the stage.

Though no one was dancing, K started whirling and dipping The Mayor and I followed along with The Rooster.

I lost all sense of what was happening around me and was filled up instead with only my daughter’s laughter.

The four of us circled around each other, spinning, dipping, and grinning.

When we were worn out, I noticed that we had been joined by a crowd of other parents and children, everyone turning, twirling, laughing and dancing.

37 comments:

Heather said...

What a great post. Sad at the beginning, but with a happy ending! You guys seem like such a wonderful family!

Annie said...

Every time I see stories of that little girl that went missing in Portugal, I see my daughter and my stomach churns. I totally understand.

Glad you had a blast!

David said...

That is so scary. I was in put in charge of my little sister in the airport when I was 10 and she was 3 and I lost her. My parents were frantic. She was found on the other side of customs in a bathroom on the other side of the airport. My parents decided to watch her themselves at the next airport. Again she got away and slipped through customs and my dad found her with a security guard. My dad took off his belt and made a leash!

Just imagining losing one of my daughters is heart wrenching. The real thing must be so horrible.

On a lighter note, I am glad you all had a fun time at the beach party! I wish they did that where we live. The girls would adore it!

sam said...

Wonderful post!

I can't even image the fear of losing a child. I just can't even fathom the panic and despair.

But the part about and your family dancing was beautiful!

Lawyer Mama said...

Jess, this post is a perfect example of the lows and highs of being a mom. I was shaking with fear along with you at the beginning and smiling and tapping my foot at the end!

Queen Karana said...

Yeah, I went to IKEA with a friend a couple of weeks ago, and we lost her little boy. So scary. I've found kids before in Wal-Mart - had to help get them back to their parents.

It's just a scary scary thing.

But that beach party sounds totally cool!

Terri@SteelMagnolia said...

I say what everyone else says...

slouching mom said...

I know that scream. It's unbearable to hear, and unforgettable.

But yeah for your town! What a brilliant, kid-friendly idea!

flutter said...

this gave me chills, start to finish. I can imagine you and K and the munchkins swirling and dipping and laughing.
How beautiful

Julie Pippert said...

What a fun idea for a party...but how traumatic that first year for that poor lady.

Lovely finish up!

mom2EmnRoo said...

d@mn you! You made me cry. Scary, sad and sweet. Love the beach party concept. Cool town.

CamiKaos said...

I can picure the dancing... what a special time.

jen said...

gorgeous. i remember the first story and love the second. the community of family.

and yes, divine.

Mrs. Chicky said...

That's one of my biggest fears, losing my kid. Scary.

Patience said...

Made my heart do a coupla flips! I'm glad everything turned out alright, but ya just can't leave 'em outa sight for a second!!

Beach dance party. Very, very cool.

bubandpie said...

That's what's so terrifying about being a parent - knowing that that scream is in there, feeling it poking around sometimes, ready to be released if the worst happens.

Aliki2006 said...

I'm so glad the child was found--this is, as you know, my mind-numbing fear.

What a beautiful post, OTJ.

Biddy said...

prrrrrecious!! i want to be a fun mom like you someday!

Sayre said...

I've done that scream. I lived in a quiet area, but it was very open. People drove down the street all the time. It was early and we were getting ready for school. For some reason, my son thought it would be okay to go outside and down to my uncle's house two doors down. I was so mad and so relieved when I found him. I wanted to kill him and hug him all at the same time.

Kyla said...

That thought...the thought of losing one of my kids, having them just slip away...it is too much. I am so glad the child was found.

And it sounds like you all had such fun yesterday!

Jen said...

Ah. My heart is pounding. We lost Rosebud at Disney World for about a minute. That sounds really short until it is your child missing in that minute. After 10 days of vacation we missed a minute that is how fast it can happen. We each thought the other had her hand...we found her after the longest 60 seconds of my life.

I can imagine the dancing and twirling and it is making me feel better. Kuddos to your town for such a fun family day.

liv said...

Oh, the joy of having your babies close. D escaped from the house of Thanksgiving a couple of years ago and was found climbing in my neighbor's magnolia tree after a frantic search. Living on city street with traffic whirring and a neurologically impaired child on the loose is too much for my heart to take. Oh, the locksmithing was my motto after that...

urban-urchin said...

i lost my daughter once- actually she hid from me in a department store. i let loose that scream. It was one of the most terrifying moments of my life.

You and K are good parents J. You revel in the moments. I want to be more like you.

crazymumma said...

whirling away a bad memory.

I do not know one parent who has not been in that well of deep fear.

I am so glad you had a wonderful night.

Fidget said...

that is one of those sounds that stay imprinted forever and will ring in your ears when you lose sight of you child for a nano second

I'm glad this years party was horrific scream free

Little Miss Moi said...

Dear oh the joys. I'm glad that nothing but lots of fun befell you and your family at the beach party. I grew up on the coast and the thought of sand up my swimmers still makes me shudder!

Rapunzel said...

Oh, yes, the world just stops for those moments when your child is out of your sight...fortunately for me those moments have been few & far between but it still makes my stomach lurch to remember it! That heartbreaking wailing..shudder..

Your beach party sounds wonderful, laughing and spinning..what joy! :)

carmachu said...

Awww, as much fun as those things, and others are...you cant let the little buggers out of your sight...

QT said...

I am glad this year held none of that anxiety. Whenever I see a kid alone in a store I ALWAYS ask them where their parents are - I don't want to be the person that tells the police, yeah, I saw that kid but he seemed ok at the time so I didn't say anything....

It sounds like you had a magical time!

mamatulip said...

Wow. The first bit took my breath away...

...the last part made me smile.

Jenny said...

I'm humbled by your brilliance. Awful, wonderful

Lotta said...

God goosebumps. I can imagine she must have thought he was in the water. I'm glad you guys could shake it and have a great time!

Blog Author Ann Clemmons said...

What a well written post! I really enjoyed it-

Ann

A Nice Place In The Sun

Karen Forest said...

The scene you painted with your words of your family dancing....so beautiful.

Paige said...

I almost joined you. Except young Avery was such a chore on Friday that I didnt have the emotional fortitude to take her down there all by myself.

So I didnt.

Glad it was fun though. Maybe next year.

Mama en Fuego said...

It's amazing how no matter our differences when it comes to our children, we have one common denominator, love.

It's because of this that when one mother cries for her child, all the mothers turn as one to find the one who has strayed away. It's instictual. I cannot recount how many times I have grabbed a straying toddler, or falling child, or shouted a warning with out thinking.

Alpha DogMa said...

Add 'vanguard' to your resume, honey. I believe your enthusiasm is infectious.