Difference between a child getting and becoming lost | Reporter's notes

I was out taking photos at Juanita Beach Park during the Casper Babypants performance when a kid became lost. Fortunately, the undesired separation of child and parent lasted for about 10 seconds.

When I heard the announcement, however, I almost thought I had gone back 20 years into the past.

Lost kids can be a serious thing, especially for a young parent, so I’m not making light of it during such circumstances. At the same time, when it happens to you as often as it did to me, it ceases to be a cause for alarm and achieves a sort of dark comedic mirth. Before you think my parents were trying to pull a “Hansel and Gretel” with me, I have to say much of the blame was on my tiny shoulders.

I don’t know whether it was my poor sense of direction or my imagination causing me to zone out, but big crowds and large areas always presented me with the “opportune moment,” as Jack Sparrow would say, to become lost.

We all know about Murphy’s Law, “what can go wrong, will go wrong.” I am living proof that it is in fact a law, not Murphy’s opinion.

If we could go back in time and do a reality show on my childhood, “Lost” would have been an appropriate title, or at least for several episodes.

Now, I wish to point out there is a difference between “becoming lost” and “getting lost.” Getting lost is intentional, usually after you’ve had an argument with another kid. “Becoming lost” is accidental. I never got lost.

It didn’t seem to matter where we were or what the event was. Shopping malls, state fairs, camping trips, Leavenworth festivals or even Disneyland. I become lost.

To this day, I’m grateful my parents didn’t buy one of those kid leashes. I wouldn’t use one on my kids, but it’s hard to complain when a kid like myself probably inspired its inventor.

As a former kid, I can only say to parents that you should never assume your child is alert to their surroundings. More likely than not, while you’re mingling in the crowd, they’re daydreaming about how they too can become Iron Man if they use all the tin foil in your kitchen drawer to smash together some armor with their toy hammer and spray paint it, along with your nice hardwood floor, with spray cans they know you keep stashed away inside the garage.

Or, a kid can unwittingly slip away with inexplicably natural ninja skills, which is what I did at age three during a family trip to Disneyland.  Ironically, I was never aware I had become lost as I meandered a few feet to get a better view of Splash Mountain. But those few feet put me out of view of my grandmother, who endured several moments of the kind of sheer panic and terror that becomes a permanent part of family lore.

Fortunately, like the kid at Juanita Beach Park this week, I too was discovered within a minute or so.

Nevertheless, having become lost enough times to land myself a picture on a milk carton, I think we can all agree that the only time kids should get lost, in any sense of the word, is after they’re done watching the series finale to the TV show “Lost.”

To my knowledge no leash can prevent that, yet.

TJ Martinell is a reporter for the Kirkland Reporter.

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