Posted by Walter B.
We nicknamed our oldest son "The Boomerang" when he was a few months shy of 3 years old. He loved to run. Run ahead a few yards, stop, look back and laugh hysterically as he turned and dared my wife and me to catch him. A parental dilemma ensued. If I chased after him too much, he would run a little farther ahead and hide behind the nearest object and peek out. I usually could easily find him from listening to him laugh as I would say "I'm gonna catch you, you little bugger!" or something of the like. If we were too tired from chasing "The Boomerang" all afternoon, we would just simply stop and say "I give up, where oh where has my "Boomerang" gone? He would circle around and pop out saying "Here I am!"
On vacation at a well-known Florida theme park on New Year's Eve, we meandered our way through a huge crowd, when "The Boomerang" started up his circling cycle for a solid hour. My wife, oldest daughter and myself, became exhausted from the game of hide and "Boomerang" seek and the fear that struck us when we lost sight of him. It was only a minute or two and he hid behind a brightly decorated trash can or something like it, but we were all scared to our core.
That day, after "The Boomerang" made his re-entry appearance into the gravitational pull of our family's atmosphere, I felt it necessary to do some hard core parenting. Once we got back to the hotel room, I sat the young lad down and proceeded to scare the boomer out of "The Boomerang." It started out as a simple parental reminder to stay close and not play games and run away from us all the time. He just laughed and tried to run out the door and down the hall. I sprinted right at him, swooped him up and carried his wiggly body back into the hotel room and closed the door. What happened next, I will never forget. I proceeded to tell my little "Boomerang" that if he ran away again, he would be taken away by "bad guys" (a favorite subject of his at the time) and he might never see us again. It seemed quite drastic, but this little guy, smart as he was, had no fear. I actually had to keep it up for a while, until he realized that he might be separated from his Mommy and his toys, forever. He began to cry and cry and seemed scared beyond measure.
This was a tough love moment for me. Had I done the right thing? He had to learn somehow and a kiddie leash was not an option. The stakes were too high. For the rest of the trip the Boomerang stayed closed to Mommy and Daddy's side, pointing at any people that looked strange to him in the theme park. He would say "You're a bad guy. Stay away from me!" as he held on tight to our hands. By the last day, he started to do an abbreviated version of his "Boomerang" act once again saying "Don't worry Mommy, I won't let the "Bad Guys" catch me, but you can."
My wife and I often joked that if any bad guys ever caught "The Boomerang" they would pay us to take him back. This year our son turned 12 and only makes me chase him after he dares me. I enjoy it now, because I can still catch him once in a while.
Do you have any stories of when you lost sight of your child for a heart-stopping moment?