Keeping Up: Don't lose your kids on vacation!


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Last year during a trip to Sea World, we lost Wills.

Kelly and I had decided to split up — Joseph and I were to go to the Shamu show to save four seats in the “Splash Zone.” Kelly was going to stay with Wills in Shamu’s Happy Harbor playground and climb around on the four stories of nets.

Once Joseph and I settled into our seats for the show, I called Kelly on his cell to say we made it, and we would definitely be splashed!

Then the stunner. “Is Wills with you?” he asked.

My stomach turned over. “No, you stayed with Wills, remember?” (I’m sure the sarcasm was heavy.) “Where is he?”

Kelly had turned his back to take off his shoes for the playground, and when he turned back around, Wills was gone.

“Find him,” I said and hung up.

I waited five minutes and called back. “Have you found him?” Not yet. “OK, tell the park guides — they’ll shut down the park so no one can leave. Tell them what he’s wearing . . .” I was barking orders and getting ready to take Joseph back to the playground and start searching myself. Kelly told me to stay there, he’d find him.

After 20 minutes with regular phone calls to ask the same question, I was in full-blown panic. My head knew that the type of kid Wills is — he’s just off playing and not even thinking that we don’t know where he is. But I also know that it just takes a second, and your child can disappear.

At the 30-minute mark, Kelly called. “I found him! He had gone up into the ropes and was down on the playground equipment and had no clue we didn’t know where he was.”

When they made it over to the Shamu Show, I was flooded with relief and hugging him so tight, but also scolding him so much he started to cry. “You must never ever get away from Mommy or Daddy in a place like this,” I said. “Anyone could grab you — you have to stay with us.”

“But Mommy, I was where I was supposed to be,” he said. “Daddy didn’t keep up.”

“Keeping up” is a large part of traveling with kids. I look back on the trips Kelly and I took before having children with long plane rides to Italy or Hawaii and have to think: That won’t happen again until we’re retired.

Now, we get in the car for a four-hour trip to the beach, and we are questioned by two boys: “How long is it going to take us?” They may sleep for two hours, but the last two they get wild. We have one GameBoy and one Leapster (I refuse to buy another one of each), and this keeps them occupied until one of them inevitably wants to switch, and the fights begin. So on our most recent trip I banned both and told them to take books — they ended up fighting over the Pokémon one!

Relaxing on the beach with a good book for hours on end is not the norm for me anymore. The boys will dig and play in the sand by themselves for a good bit, play in the ocean and then “we’re ready to go to the pool.” I just long for one of those vacations where I don’t have to actually move.

This issue of Piedmont Parent is all about traveling with kids. From mountain getaways that are very family friendly to ideas to combat boredom at the beach, we have it all.

Wills remembers getting lost and now says that we should give him a cell phone so he can call us if we get separated. (He’s 6, I might add.)

Summer vacation’s almost here! Get ready to work harder than ever . . . !

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