Our Y has 2 full sized gyms with basketball hoops at each end. In the middle of the gym is a heavy fabric divider that can be rolled up if the entire gym is needed for an event. On Saturday mornings, when many parents come to the Y and use the drop off child care services, it tends to get crowded. So the staff cordon off one side of the gym, using flexible dividers on either end of the fabric curtain and allow older children to play with frisbees, hula hoops, and various balls. Owen has enjoyed going there several times so when we checked in and it was suggested that he go to the gym, we walked him over to the back entrance. We checked him in for 30 minutes so Solito and I could lift some weights.
I finished a few minutes early, so I decided to get Owen ahead of the expected return time. As I was walking towards the gym, I noticed a little boy running around on the open side of the gym. When I looked closer, I realized IT WAS OWEN. He was all by himself on the side he should not have been on and clearly no one knew he was missing. I dropped everything in my hands--jackets, bag, bike helmets--and ran into the gym to collect him.
How could this happen? What if I hadn't finished early? What if the unthinkable happened--he was abducted, abused, or injured? I had all these scenarios flying through my head and I was scared. I trusted that he would be in good hands for the 30 minutes I was away, as it's never been a problem before. I checked in with the staff in the gym and back in the regular Kids Stuff area to express my concern and anger and left a comment card for the head of the child care to get in touch with me ASAP. And I emailed the current manager of the facility a letter which I then sent out to the head of the child care and the Y's regional director about what occurred and what my concerns are going forward.
After speaking with the head of the child care and the regional director for the YMCA in the last two days, I do feel that they are serious about making sure it doesn't happen again to any kid. They are trying to figure out how they can change the way they configure the gym when they use it on Saturday mornings. They are going to do a head count/wristband check every 5 minutes (instead of every 15) using a third person whose job is solely to do this check.
I know they feel bad about what happened, but I feel even worse. I realize that this could happen anywhere. And this is something I have feared since Owen was a little baby. I worry all the time that something could happen to him or someone could hurt him, someone we trust, and I wouldn't know about it until it was too late. This time any real crisis was averted, but what if there is a next time? What if it doesn't have an "everything is OK" ending? I'm already a pretty good helicopter parent.........do I now become the hemorrhoid parent that hangs on so tightly Owen can never have any freedom? I don't want to smother him, but I would give up everything I have to keep him safe.
One thing I do know....having a kid is a great way to induce worry lines and gray hair and boy does this kid know just how to do it right!
|I know just how to push Mom's buttons!|