“Mum, where’s Korey?” “Mum, have you been counting us?” “Mum, you’re not watching Lucy!” “Mum, WATCH YOUR KIDS!” …….. This is what I now hear at least 20 times a day from Anna, our 10 year old. I never used to. When we first set off on this trip around Asia I’d get the occasional “Mum, hold their hands!” talking to from her, but that was about it. She generally let me go about being a Mum and you know, doing all the Mum things myself. But then I lost one of the kids in Singapore. Now she is convinced I’m going to let it happen again……..
Actually, before I get to telling you all about what I will refer to as ‘the incident’, I’m going to make one thing clear. I actually did not lose one of my children in Singapore. Peter did! He may tell you otherwise but I’ll just let you read what happened and then be the judge (feel free to PM me for his phone number afterwards so you can call him and tell him it is all his fault and Erin is always right).
So, it was our third day in Singapore. The kids were already driving us nuts so we took them to the local market and let them roam free in the hope that one or two would go missing. It was proving trickier than we expected as they kept coming back to us so we hid behind some stalls….. Oh goodness, I am actually joking. You did realise that didn’t you? Sometimes I get carried away and totally forget that most people reading this don’t know a thing about me and my warped sense of humour…….
Anyway…..it was our third day in Singapore. We were staying on Sentosa Island and decided to catch the free shuttle to Palawan Beach for a bit of a play and a look around before dinner. At this stage we were still finding our groove, and in saying ‘finding our groove’ I mean completely disorganised. Who takes their kids to a beautiful beach without swimwear or towels…..? So, due to this silly oversight we told the kids they were only to go in the water up to their ankles. If the hotel was around the corner it would have been fine, but we didn’t think they should be getting on a bus wet and covered in sand. Surprisingly, they were ok with this and happily paddled in the water, looked out at all the boats in the South China Sea and posed for about 500 photos (mostly taken by us……).
At some point Peter suggested to me that I go back up to the path where we had left the pram, grab it and meet them at a rope bridge that we could see a bit further along the beach. As I did this, I watched the five kids walking along the waters edge while Peter took more photos and splashed around with them. I was a fair bit ahead of them so I decided to head on to the bridge and take some photos of them all down below before they joined me.
As I stood on the bridge and looked down at the beach I could only see four children. “Peter! Where’s Korey (our 5 year old)?” I yelled out. “He’s with you.” he yelled back. He was not! “Ah, no he’s not!” I yelled back. “Yes, he said he was going to you.” Um, what???? “Well, he’s not here!”. And cue panic! As Peter bolted up from the water, I raced off the bridge and we all sort of met in the middle. Minus Korey. “Where is he?” I yelled. “I don’t know he said he was going to you.” Peter snapped back. “WHAT?” Since when do we just let our five year old wander off looking for someone in a foreign country? Or anywhere for that matter? While the fiery mother in me was ready to give Peter a massive piece of my mind, there was obviously a bigger priority. Finding my son!
I yelled at the older girls to stay with Lucy and Ben, and Peter and I started running around frantically looking for Korey. From where we were you could see quite a way ahead in all directions and there was no sign of him anywhere. A hundred, horrible, stomach churning scenarios swam round in my head as I ran around looking for him. I’m not even going to say what I was thinking or was worried had happened. I can’t. It’s just too horrible.
I remember looking back at the other kids constantly making sure they were ok. Elyssa was pushing the pram around with Ben in it and Lucy was following right behind her. Anna was a mess. She was running around, calling out “KOREY”, sort of half crying, half holding herself together in a determined ‘must find my brother’ state. I think at some point Peter headed to the water and started looking in it. I couldn’t do that. Something told me I didn’t need to worry about that anyway. In fact, and this is probably going to sound ridiculous, the longer he was missing, the less worried I became. I guess at first it was shock and panic, but then, as I had time to sort of register and comprehend what was happening, I was able to become more rational and think how very, very unlikely all of the horrible scenarios I had initially imagined, actually were. It was much more likely that the little terror had simply wandered off. Wasn’t it…….?
As I ran along the beach I saw a lifeguard tower not far ahead. There were at least two men up in it. Ironically they were sitting facing each other, neither even slightly looking anywhere near the water. I called out “Hello” to them. I hadn’t really thought it through but I guess I was going to ask them to get their butts down to me and help me find my son. But I never got that far. As soon as I yelled “Hello” and they turned to look at me, Korey appeared, walking casually along the sand towards me. Coming from the complete other direction from where we had last seen him, from where we had first started our time on the beach, about 200 metres away from where we’d lost him. Peter tells me he was only missing for about 4 minutes, but it felt like about 40 to me! It’s a bit of a blur but I think I ran up and hugged him and kissed him and yelled at him all at the same time! I called out to the others and they all came running. Anna hugged him, crying, for the longest time. I’ve never seen her so emotional towards her brother before. The poor girl had really, really freaked out.
So anyway, it turns out that he had simply gone back to the part of the beach we had originally been playing at, looking for me. He had never seen me walking along the path with the pram. When he told Peter he was going to Mum, Peter assumed he had seen me up at the path close by, and was just running up to meet me. It was a completely innocent mistake. A case of crossed wires I guess. But……. come on, Peter should have watched him take off and made sure he was heading directly to me right? And he definitely shouldn’t have told me it was my fault should he? Anyway, we were all shaken up from it, and the blame game went on for a little while as can be expected. But really, we were just so relieved and I don’t think Korey has ever got as much attention and hugs and kisses before in his life, except maybe the day he was born.
Poor Anna definitely took it the hardest. She’s been blessed with her Mum’s ‘stress your head off about everything’ gene, and at the time she was convinced something unimaginable had happened. Even now, two weeks later, she is constantly doing head counts and telling me off for not being vigilant enough with the kids. I feel bad that she’s worried and can’t just let it go and be in the moment, being a kid, but I guess that’s just Anna. She’s a worrier and an analyzer and way, way, way beyond her years. But that’s because she is also super caring, responsible and a big, beautiful softie. Maybe it’s a good thing that this happened, because I can tell you now, it won’t ever, ever happen again. Anna can guarantee it!