It seemed like a great idea.
We had a beautiful, sunny day ahead of us. We were on vacation with Alex’s mom, also known as “Grandma.” Someone suggested we go to “Loon Day.” I didn’t know what Loon Day entailed, but I figured it would be an arts and crafts fair with food booths and kids’ activities.
I was right. But what I didn’t know was that Loon Day would forever live on in my memory as quite possibly the worst day of my life thus far. Or at least the worst 15 minutes.
But let’s start with this:
We had some fun. We ate lunch. We browsed. Alex’s mom went to watch the Loon Call Competition.
I originally took this photo because of the woman I circled I up there. She was dressed up in Full Loon Regalia (FLR) to judge the Loon Call Contest. Now I show it to you to let you see how many people had flocked (ha, ha, ha) to Loon Day. And this was just one small area of Loon Day. Loon Day encompassed many, many blocks.
I’m going to show you another photo.
*FORESHADOWING* *FORESHADOWING* *FORESHADOWING* *FORESHADOWING* *FORESHADOWING* *FORESHADOWING* *FORESHADOWING*
I think he really liked that the cell had a bed. Perhaps Loon Day was too overwhelming and the jail cell was quiet and comfy and small.
Shortly thereafter we walked over to the little outdoor spot where people were selling drinks and beer brats. I don’t know what the fuck a beer brat is, but I know they were selling them because there was a dude with a bullhorn and he kept yelling, “Beer brats! Beer brats! Beer brats!”
Alex bought a water for our guys to share and then Quinn decided he wanted his own. Then there was a little scuffle whilst Quinn tried to steal a water from the cooler and I tried to keep him away from it. Alex and his mom were similarly wrangling the other two. During this time we got all turned around and suddenly I saw Alex’s mom ask Alex something and then Alex said, “Where’s Jack?”
And then we ran around in confused circles for three or four minutes while our panic mounted. I’d been dragging Quinn around, but at some point I shoved him at Alex, who in turn shoved both him and Sam at his mom. Then we ran around in wider confused circles for a couple minutes.
I don’t know if you’ve ever lost a child. (And if you haven’t, dear lord, I hope you never do.) Like LOST lost a child, but there comes a moment when you make the decision that it is no longer necessary to keep proper decorum. There is a strong drive in many people, me included, to NOT MAKE A SCENE. And up to this point, we hadn’t done so.
But after our aimless wandering didn’t produce Jack (hmmm…imagine that), I made the executive decision: It was time to MAKE A MOTHERFUCKING SCENE.
“Alex, I think we have to find security,” I said the next time our paths crossed. The only problem is that there didn’t seem to be any security at all of Loon Day.
I ran into the nearest building, which was the Historical Museum, and scared the crap out of the eleventy-billion year old volunteer that was behind the desk.
She said she didn’t know of any security but that the DNR booth was right over there and maybe they could help me. And all I could think was, “How will the Do Not Resusitate” people help me?”
And then I realized that she was talking about the Department of Natural Resources, and although they were not security, they did have on matching shirts, which was a uniform of sorts, so I figured I’d go with her suggestion.
I headed over to them and scared the crap out of them as well.
“Ilostmyautisticsixyearoldson. Canyouhelpmefindhim? Istheresecurity? WhatshouldIdo?!?!”
To give them credit, they only stared at me blankly for a couple of seconds and then the woman in the blue DNR shirt told me to call 911. And she reminded me about the Beer Brat Guy.
So I dialed 911 and ran over to the Beer Brat Guy. Meanwhile, the 911 operator was trying to get me to give her my home address. “I live in Maryland,” I said.
“I need your home address,” she said.
And I didn’t say, “How the hell is that GERMANE to the fucking situation?” but I wanted to. And then I gave her my home address.
Meanwhile, I was imploring the Beer Brat Guy to broadcast Jack’s loss and description over his bullhorn. Which he did. Evidently Alex was down the street and when he heard, “We have a lost six-year-old wearing a blue shirt…” he thought the Beer Brat Guy had found Jack. However, it soon became evident from the continued bullhorn broadcasting that he had not. I don’t know if he heard my sobbing in the background, but that would have let him know that Jack was still lost as well.
And while all this was going on—me sobbing and trying to tell the Beer Brat Guy what to say and giving a description of Jack and what he was wearing—I was still on the phone with the 911 lady, who was not being helpful at all.
At some point a kind, well-meaning woman came up and suggested that Beer Brat Guy say, “Jack Lastname, come to the Beer Brat station.”
“He’s autistic,” I blubbered. “He won’t…He won’t just come.”
This went on for I have no idea how long until I heard someone shouting, “They found him! They found him!” I shook off the 911 lady and ran off to where the DNR woman in the blue shirt was walking toward me with Jack. She had gone searching for him. And with the bullhorn description was able to figure out who he was.
I ran up to them and gave the woman a hug and a thank you first, because I knew I would not be coherent enough after bending down to Jack to do so. And then I gave Jack the biggest hug I could and kissed his nose and smiled at him through my tears. He was totally unfazed. He’d been in the jail cell. He’d been happy. He didn’t realize he was lost.
“I told you afterwards that I was going,” he told us later, when we were talking to him about not wandering off.
I put his wrist in a vise grip with my hand and we walked over to Beer Brat Guy to thank him. Beer Brat Guy put the bullhorn up to Jack’s mouth and coached him on what to say:
“I’m Jack…and I love my mom.”
And that’s about it, except for the residual shaking, adrenaline, and Alex and my refusal to let go of Jack’s wrist for the rest of the day. Also, our pledge to each other that we would never go to a zone defense again with our kids. Because that Jack, he is a sneaky one. He’ll slip away if he’s not subject to man-to-man defense.
Or we could just put him in one of these for the rest of his life to keep him safe.