Yesterday, I took my kids to the local amusement park, Lagoon, with a cousin and a friend, and dropped them off.
I was very nervous about this. My daughter will be 13 and son will be 16 next week, so I kept telling myself they are old enough to handle this. And I can't really ride thrill rides anymore, so it wasn't worth the $40 ticket to accompany them. This is what they wanted for their birthdays-- to take a friend and spend a day at Lagoon.
16 took his Dad's old cell phone and I told them to be sure and 1- make a plan for meeting up with each other for dinner and again at the end of the night and 2- drink lots of water so no one got dehydrated, and 3- come back out to the drop off/pickup area at 9:30 that night, where I would be waiting. After greasing up with sunscreen, they were off!
I didn't hear from them all day. Even though I texted a couple of times to check in. I didn't worry. Well, I suppressed the worry. :)
At 9:15, I pulled into the 15-minute pickup area and ate my Panda Express and waited. 9:30 came and went. 9:40 came and went and I got no response to my texts. At 9:50, I called the phone (my own battery was nearly dead, so I started freaking out a little, also I'm so obedient to rules that I was upset at taking up a space for more than the allotted 15 minutes). A lady answered with, "Lagoon Amusement Park Lost and Found". Aha.
I asked her what to do, since I didn't have a pass to come in. She said tell them at the gate that I was just going to get a lost phone from Guest Services, and leave my car in the 15-minute lot. I started walking down the long sidewalk that cuts through the center of the guest parking lot.
Halfway there, my phone rang with an unfamiliar phone #. It was my daughter, near tears. She said she and her friend were lost in the parking lot and using a nice lady's phone. I told her to turn so that the roller coaster was to her back, and look for the long row of trees with lighting, and to head there. I would find her on the sidewalk. I asked why she wasn't with her brother and cousin and she said she didn't know where they were and since their locker had been emptied, she assumed they had come out to the car already and now she was lost. Sigh.
Then I got a few texts from my husband saying that she had called home to get my phone # and had I found her yet? I was starting to freak out a little, because as I stood there waiting (counting down the minutes and feeling more and more frustrated), I didn't see her. And didn't see her.
Finally, I started toward the park entrance again, hoping she would be up the path that way. Luckily, she was. And the nice mom was still with her and her friend. I thanked the mom and said, "We need to go find the boys now." I was starting to feel ticked, which set off tears in her and her friend, but I didn't have time to worry about that yet. Her friend also had a headache (probably from dehydration and not wearing her glasses).
We went into the park, and I told her to go check by the lockers for her brother & cousin while I picked up the lost phone, since the lost & found is right next to the lockers, and to come right back to me. They did. No boys.
I figured the boys must be by the splash pad, since that's where our family always meets up at Lagoon, so we walked that direction. Sure enough, there were the boys. Ben, (who had a tissue plug still in his nose from a dehydration bloody nose) was furious! When I asked him why they didn't have a meeting place and time arranged, he said he had told the girls TWICE during dinner when and where to meet up again. Sigh again...
I calmed everyone down (including myself), told them I wasn't mad and that it was all okay and forgivable and hopefully we learned some good lessons from what happened. My son said, "Yeah, don't ever put me in charge of anything again." and that he "Understands now what parenthood is like and I wish I could just be 16 forever." Hahaha! Yeah... I get that...
I learned that my daughter needs to pay better attention; that she inherited my horrible sense of direction (hence the wandering the parking lot instead of walking the sidewalk straight to the pickup area); that my son will be more careful with the cell phone responsibility in the future; that my daughter is pretty smart in a crisis (asking a nice mom for help instead of sitting down and bawling, which is what I would have done at her age); and that you can't let a bad event ruin a full day of fun. I got them talking on the way home about the fun they had, and everyone was just fine after a few minutes.