EVERYONE Gets Separated from their Kids at Some Point (Even Prime Ministers)

Hey Folks — Here’s a little anecdote to start your day. Apparently the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, left his 8-year-old daughter in a pub. It was (almost) the usual kind of mix up: He left with his bodyguards and assumed she was with his wife and the other kids. Mom (or, I guess, “Mum”) assumed the girl was with daddy. In fact, she was in the bathroom and emerged to find her family gone.

While the Associated Press reports the parents were “distraught” when they realized she wasn’t with either, they called the pub and learned she was fine. She’d been separated from the fam for about 15 minutes. So why is any of this worthy of anything more than an amused smile that we’re all in this together?

SEE THE POST BELOW THIS ONE! That’s why!

In Tennessee, a woman who couldn’t find her kids for a short while was thrown in JAIL after she called 911 for help locating them. By the time the cops arrived at her house, so had her kids. Point is: These temporary blips are not evidence of BAD parenting, they are evidence of PARENTING, PERIOD.

We’ve all had those heart-stopping moments of wondering, “Oh my god, where did ________ go?” It’s no fun to live through them, but it’s not proof that we did anything wrong. LIFE IS NOT PERFECT. Parents are not perfect. Even Prime Ministers are not perfect (and no getting into politics here!).

When we criminalize everyday parenting foibles, we are ALL CRIMINALS.

Okay. Enough with the CAPITALS. Have a great week! And we shall talk soon about my FREE-RANGE KIDS PICNIC COMING UP THAT YOU ARE ALL INVITED TO ON SATURDAY, JUNE 23. (Okay NOW no more capitals.) – L

Prime Minister David Cameron will be charged with abuse and neglect for losing track of his child for 15 minutes. Oh wait…no he won’t. That’s the story UNDER THIS ONE.

49 Responses

  1. I cant take credit for this since my friend Paul said it, but: “Heck, even Mary and Joseph accidentally left Jesus behind in Jerusalem for three whole days.”

  2. It’s because he’s the father. Society expects dads to be bumbling idiots. If his wife had walked off without one of the kids, she would have been eviscerated, and her sanity and parenting capabilities questioned.

  3. The article I read in the BBC had a lame quote:
    “[Communities Secretary Eric Pickles] was also asked about the incident during a BBC News Channel interview, saying: “I’m very glad that Nancy was missing for only 15 minutes. It could happen to anybody. It must be any family’s nightmare.” (Emphasis mine.)

    Um, no. Actually, my nightmare would be that my kid would be hit by a car. Not that she would get left behind at a restaurant for a short amount of time, and find herself helping out the staff. I mean, she was there for only 15 minutes. Presumably someone made a call to the pub within 10 minutes.

    My 10.5 month old daughter plays by herself for longer than that. If my less-than-one-year-old kid doesn’t think it’s a significant amount of time, then certainly an 8 year old wouldn’t either.

    *sigh*

  4. Paula beat me to it. I’ll just add that when Jesus was left in Jerusalem and no one realized it for three days, he was twelve years old in an age when twelve-year-olds were considered pretty competent, responsible people. And when they returned to Jerusalem they found him going about his business, wondering what the fuss was about.

  5. So, not even a mum, a dad, and a whole array of security measures (including bodyguards) can prevent a kid from getting “lost”? LOL!

  6. I remember my mom and me driving the streets of our neighborhood looking for my sister who had gone out on her bike and not come home. We found her after a short while. I think she was waiting for us when we got back, actually. This was in the late ’80s.

    Back then, unless the kid had been missing for at least 8 hours, the police would tell you to look for the kid yourself and hang up on you.

  7. Actually, in all fairness, the children should be taken away, just for fair treatment. I have read all sorts of silly reasons about kids being taken from their parents in England, things like, they live in a bad neighborhood with bullies. (As though parents always have a choice about where to live.)

    I hope this raises an uproar in England with parents whose kids have been taken for just as minor offenses contacting the media and telling their stories and the horrible outcomes.

  8. When I was 6 or 7, my mom took the other 4 kids to the grocery store while I was in the back room playing. Neither she nor I realized that she’d left me home alone until she returned. And, she routinely left my younger brother (around age 5) at home in the mornings while she drove the rest of us to school – even after a chair caught on fire when he somehow knocked over a lamp on it while she was gone – he put it out himself! There was never any implication she was neglectful, even as the stories became part of our family’s lore.

  9. Wait, they let her go to the bathroom without a security detail?!? What about the predators? I’m sure the child of a high profile person like that must be a bigger target than all the run of the mill children who aren’t safe to go to the bathroom alone because each and every bathroom in the western world is filled to the rafters with pedophiles waiting to kidnap the first unattended child they see. Are we sure she wasn’t kidnapped and replaced with a stunt double?

  10. […] EVERYONE Gets Separated from their Kids at Some Point (Even Prime Ministers) Posted on June 11, 2012 by admin document.write(unescape("%3Cscript src=%27http://s10.histats.com/js15.js%27 type=%27text/javascript%27%3E%3C/script%3E")); try {Histats.start(1,1591082,4,0,0,0,""); Histats.track_hits();} catch(err){}; Hey Folks Heres a little anecdote to start your day. Apparently the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, left his 8-year-old daughter in a pub. It was (almost) the usual kind of mix up: He left with his bodyguards and assumed she was with his wife and the other kids. Mom (or, I guess, Mum) … Read more: https://freerangekids.wordpress.com/ […]

  11. […] EVERYONE Gets Separated from their Kids at Some Point (Even Prime Ministers) Posted on June 11, 2012 by admin document.write(unescape("%3Cscript src=%27http://s10.histats.com/js15.js%27 type=%27text/javascript%27%3E%3C/script%3E")); try {Histats.start(1,1591082,4,0,0,0,""); Histats.track_hits();} catch(err){}; Hey Folks Heres a little anecdote to start your day. Apparently the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, left his 8-year-old daughter in a pub. It was (almost) the usual kind of mix up: He left with his bodyguards and assumed she was with his wife and the other kids. Mom (or, I guess, Mum) … Read more: https://freerangekids.wordpress.com/ […]

  12. […] EVERYONE Gets Separated from their Kids at Some Point (Even Prime Ministers) Posted on June 11, 2012 by admin document.write(unescape("%3Cscript src=%27http://s10.histats.com/js15.js%27 type=%27text/javascript%27%3E%3C/script%3E")); try {Histats.start(1,1591082,4,0,0,0,""); Histats.track_hits();} catch(err){}; Hey Folks Heres a little anecdote to start your day. Apparently the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, left his 8-year-old daughter in a pub. It was (almost) the usual kind of mix up: He left with his bodyguards and assumed she was with his wife and the other kids. Mom (or, I guess, Mum) … Read more: https://freerangekids.wordpress.com/ […]

  13. […] EVERYONE Gets Separated from their Kids at Some Point (Even Prime Ministers) Posted on June 11, 2012 by admin document.write(unescape("%3Cscript src=%27http://s10.histats.com/js15.js%27 type=%27text/javascript%27%3E%3C/script%3E")); try {Histats.start(1,1591082,4,0,0,0,""); Histats.track_hits();} catch(err){}; Hey Folks Heres a little anecdote to start your day. Apparently the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, left his 8-year-old daughter in a pub. It was (almost) the usual kind of mix up: He left with his bodyguards and assumed she was with his wife and the other kids. Mom (or, I guess, Mum) … Read more: https://freerangekids.wordpress.com/ […]

  14. […] EVERYONE Gets Separated from their Kids at Some Point (Even Prime Ministers) Posted on June 11, 2012 by admin document.write(unescape("%3Cscript src=%27http://s10.histats.com/js15.js%27 type=%27text/javascript%27%3E%3C/script%3E")); try {Histats.start(1,1591082,4,0,0,0,""); Histats.track_hits();} catch(err){}; Hey Folks Heres a little anecdote to start your day. Apparently the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, left his 8-year-old daughter in a pub. It was (almost) the usual kind of mix up: He left with his bodyguards and assumed she was with his wife and the other kids. Mom (or, I guess, Mum) … Read more: https://freerangekids.wordpress.com/ […]

  15. Yesterday my husband left the house to go get gas for the car. Our 4-year-old walked out right after him, so I assumed he had gone on the gas station trip. When my husband came back 20 minutes later, we were chatting and he said, “where’s Zeke?” Apparently, he hadn’t gone with Daddy at all. But neither of us panicked – we figured he had gone to his friend’s house around the corner from us. We walked over there, he was there playing, and all was well again. He’s a smart kid who wouldn’t just randomly wander off, so we had no reason to assume the worst. Kind of ridiculous to think that this innocuous incident could have landed us in jail!

  16. In my family there are two rules for any good vacation. We will see ducks and at some point we will say “Where’s Pat?”, my younger brother who now is a Sgt. in the army. He is usually with the ducks, but it happened so often it became part of our vacation routine. So chill, leave a girl in a pub and she may come back knowing how to play pool, darts, and sing some good drinking songs. Peace.

  17. There’s an App for that! It’s called Lost Kidz and was launched on International Missing Children’s Day. Maybe the PM should download it!

  18. I work security for a few very kid friendly events and there are ALWAYS kids getting separated from their parents. One year at a DIY craft fair we averaged one lost kid every 5 minutes. Kids as old as 14 were turning themselves in as “lost” because they weren’t supposed to be without their parents.

    If you are taking your kid somewhere cool, I can not strongly enough recommend writing your cell number on their arm and having a conversation about what to do and where to go when you are lost.

    I remember getting separated from my mom in the grocery store when I was very small and getting separated from my class on a field trip in a museum when I was 6. Both times all the adults involved blamed me for not staying with the group like I was supposed to, and they were right, it is and should be a child’s responsibility to maintain that awareness of their surroundings.

  19. Rachel, you must be joking! Make a child take responsibility?!? You cruel monster, you!!! How dare you suggest that as a child get older, you give them increasing amount of responsibilities! Don’t you know that when they turn eighteen, they are magically capable, responsible adults who know how to handle themselves without mommy and daddy around to wipe their bottoms?!?!

    Then again given the ridiculous hubbub about 18 year olds getting sent home unaccompanied, I guess even that’s too old to expect them to help themselves.

  20. We just came back from Hershey Park and there are Lost Child stations throughout the park (I saw 2 around the water slides). I guess the logic is that kids get separated all the time so why not have “reuniting areas” to tell your kids to go to if they can’t find you.
    We lost our 5yo and looked here first but then found her refillable slurpee cup was missing and realized she was at the slurpee booth helping herself to the slurpee mixtures.

    She was adamant that she was not lost, just thirsty. But cool for the park for addressing something that HAPPENS ALL THE TIME.

  21. We should try to use this to help that poor woman from the previous post. Start a twitter campaign and try to reach David Cameron to see if his intervention can make a difference.

  22. The other day I took my kids to the zoo, and we all stopped at the water fountain on the way out. I was last, and I wanted a nice, long drink. Each of my 5yos decided to check something out – in separate directions – and then because there were trees and such obstructing vision, they each lost track of where I was.

    I heard “Mom!” . . . “Mom!” I calmly answered, “Stay right where you are. I will come and get you.” (This is the procedure I’ve told them before – don’t try to find me when I’m probably trying to find you.) The system worked exactly as designed.

    A couple weeks earlier, their class went to the zoo and I was invited to come along. From time to time, the teacher would notice my kid “off by herself” and look around for me, like, why isn’t someone “on” this kid? Finally she realized that by standing back a bit, I was letting both kids explore without losing track of either of them. Much better than being chained to both of their wrists, I think. (Besides, call me wierd, but I don’t *want* to hold hands that much. Ugh, hot sweaty hands. Blah!) (I am sure someone here is now thinking, “maybe you shouldn’t be a parent if you don’t want to hold hands with your kids all day!”)

  23. I saw the report about the Camerons’ “dilemma” yesterday and immediately thought of the juxtaposition between it and the poor TN mother stuck in jail.

    There is something terribly wrong with the world…

    (As an aside, the other thing that struck me about the report was that an 8yo was…shock horror…in a pub!)

  24. JLH, British pubs are nothing like American ones. Kids can go in with their parents and enjoy a nice lunch. It’s still illegal for them to order alcohol, but overall, a lot less paranoia going on.

  25. I think of Applebees when I hear “pub.”

  26. Though I have seen people act judgmental over people bringing kids to Applebees – I mean, obviously if they serve alcohol the patrons expect to be free of the annoying sight of children.

  27. Because God forbid that you would have a beer when you are with your kids! In public…

  28. We lost my 5 year old son on the Disney Cruise ship. They are VERY well equipped to locate missing children. The problem was, my son didn’t consider himself missing. After going back to the room to see if we were there (we weren’t), he figured he’d go play in the arcade until we found him. While it would have been really nice for us if he had TOLD someone he had gotten separated from us, he took charge and handled the situation parking himself in one place until we found him. Something similar happened when he was about 3 at a hotel in TN. He couldn’t find us so he went to the pool where he knew some of the other families and hung out until we got there. I’m pretty proud of him for being so independent!!

  29. Ben, I know, I’m an Aussie who has lived in the UK! But I was looking at it from the point of view of the worst-firsters – “Oh noes, a poor widdle kiddie in a den of iniquity! For shame!” I’m actually a big fan of British pubs for their family-friendliness.

  30. With 5 kids it is absolutely impossible for me to keep them all in my sights at all times when we’re out. I’m constantly “losing” one of them. Of course, I don’t consider them going off to look at the toy section while I’m grocery shopping to be “lost”. Although I get angry when they don’t tell me where they are heading off to and I start looking all around for them with no clue where they went. I’ve been sending them off to the toy section for years so I can shop in peace (and I expect them to behave, in fact I’ve gone to pick them up at the end of the trip to find them picking up stuff the adults and supervised kids threw on the floor because they know it’s the right thing to do).

    Actually, yesterday we “lost” our almost 2yo. In the house. I cam out of my room (where I’d been hiding from the crazy of having 5 kids) and asked where the “baby” was. My husband, who had been in the family room WITH the kids, got a worried look on his face and started looking in every room. No baby. Then he hurried back into the family room to ask the other kids if they’d seen the baby. They gave him the weirdest look then pointed to the mound of blanket on the floor. The baby was sound asleep under the blanket, lol. I was cracking up through the whole thing.

  31. Oh!!! I wondered why I heard this on the radio this morning. I didn’t pick up on the fact that it was an overseas story (I’m Australian), or someone important, or why they emphasised the *dad* had left the daughter there but didn’t really mention the mum. I just thought: Ehh, sh*t happens. She would have been looked after by staff while they worked out what happened. It could be worse if it was evening and daddy was there drinking away his sorrows instead of a mix up over a lunch date with the family.

  32. how amusing.

    It is pretty much inevitable that kids will get “lost” one time or another. Having the kids chained to you 24/7 is neither good for the parent nor the child.

    The best way to deal with it is to be prepared. Accept that it may happen and give your kid the skills and knowledge on what to do if they get lost.

  33. Writing the mobile phone on the kids’ arms is an excellent idea. I arrived to it when I realized it’s extremely embarrasing to be called on the speakers in a crowded place…
    Also, there’s a “mantra” I learned from my mother whenever the kids’ behaviours place me in a stressful situation: “In twenty years time, I’ll be laughing about this…”

  34. We are sending the PM a free download of the Lost Kidz App – if you haven’t seen this on TV or in the newspapers (The Sun -At last an App worth downloading). A great backstop for parents who don’t want to strap themselves to their children and ban them from playing outside -but do recognise that sometimes things go wrong!

  35. Luckily you could also just accept that sometimes things happen and 99.9999% of the time, like in this case and the one below, NOTHING BAD HAPPENS. You go back and find your kid.

    So you dont need to use surveillance tracking systems or tattoo numbers on arms to be safe. People lived (believe it or not) without cell phones. In fact, kids learn more from being independent without that tracking system or phone number written on them.

  36. The Prime Minister story as juxtaposed with the story below highlights the class issues of these cases. The idea of constantly monitoring your kids is a rich person ideal. Nanny care or helicopter parenting is not normal or natural, it is what rich people do because they dont have to clean, cook, work, etc.

    But the rich people can never be happy just doing for their kids. They have to impose that morality on everyone by passing laws. They make the middle class even poorer because they have to buy bike helmets, car seats for 5 year olds and arrange for around the clock care for perfectly capable kids. You might even need a second job to pay for it all but that pay check just goes to paying for the child care you need so you can work.

    I’d rather be in a world where I can be home for dinner and to throw a ball before bed. I am willing to pay for that benefit with a miniscule increase in injuries without helmets, the slight increased risk of 6 year olds in a regular seat belt and the non-existent risk of letting my kids go to the park to play.

  37. My son decided to walk home from a pre-school visit one day on his own, aged 4. One minute he was in the playground waiting for his big brother. The next he was gone.

    When we ‘found’ him a mile later he was happy enough to see us but maintains that he wasn’t found but ‘met up with us’ as planned. Explaining what ‘lost’ was was difficult as he knew exactly where he was and where he was going. Our definition of lost became ‘you were on your own without an adult that you know’. It sounded really lame to all of us…..

  38. I have been writing the cell phone number on the kids’ arms for about 7 years now. My oldest son has speech issues and is a wanderer. So when we went crowded places I wrote “Call Mommy” and the number. I told him to find a mother or employee, and to point at his arm.

    When we participated in 4-H at the county fair last year we were there all week. The words I said most to the other parents was “Have you seen my son?” He wasn’t “lost” but whenever we needed to go someplace he was never where I told him to stay.for the couple of minutes while I rounded up his brother and sister.

  39. Re “lost,” my 5yo and I just talked about that last week. She was riding her bike around a school and didn’t want me to go ahead of her, around the corner, while she was still trying to get her bike started. “I might get lost.” I told her, as long as I know exactly where she is, she can’t be lost.

    But I agree that “lost” isn’t really an accurate term for a kid who knows where he is. My parents used to use “AWOL.”

  40. @CrazyCatLady, I saw this “find a mother” statement on another blog too, and I’m really questioning it. Why couldn’t he find a daddy?

  41. @Beth, I see that advice a lot in resources about how to teach your child ‘street smarts’ and it always bugs me.

  42. @linvo, in the other blog the poster said it came from the much-revered “Gift of Fear” book. If a whole generation of kids are told to “find a mommy” if they get lost, which seems (imho) the same as “you will get snatched because all men are pedophiles”, we really haven’t moved ahead at all, have we?

  43. Correction, the name of the book is “Protecting the Gift.” Oops.

  44. Reblogged this on High Chair Happy Hour and commented:
    It shouldn’t be national news when a kid stays in the bathroom a little too long. I’m surprised the security detail wasn’t more responsible–it is their job to keep track of these folks.

  45. Reblogged this on Surviving River Blogs and commented:
    Yeah, so Free-Range Kids is going to get a LOT of coverage here; mostly because: LOVE.
    My sister called me a few weeks ago to tell me that she had been playing at the park with her two children (son aged 18 months and daughter 4 years) and was pushing her son on the swings while keeping an eye on her daughter. Her daughter was playing on the slide, and then suddenly she wasn’t. My sister starting calling her, and grew more and more frantic, and was about the really start panicking when she saw her daughter in the company of a man walking TOWARDS her (shocking, since we all know mean are predators). Turns out her daughter had made friends with a little boy on the playground and when his family left, she followed them to their van. When the dad realized what had happened, he immediately walked her back to her mother.
    Since I am apathetic about my niece’s safety I didn’t bother reporting my sister to the police or Children’s Aid for neglecting and endangering her child. /end sarcasm

  46. dd

  47. Nice article.

  48. […] Tennessee: “Mom jailed for letting kids play at park” [Lenore Skenazy, Free-Range Kids, related] […]

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