Missing: One Toddlertastic Human

My camera roll is currently full of Hutton being an awesome 2 year old.

Eating a bowl of M&Ms for breakfast, coloring on his infant brother, polishing off a bag of popcorn in the pantry, painting the floor with acrylic paint…he’s, like, so good at being a toddler.

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(The best part of this picture is the sharpie-d on facial tiger stripes that I had yet to wipe off from hours earlier, long before the hair gel bath. SO toddlertastic.)

He’s my dicey child. He’s either sitting in your lap being an innocent snugglebug OR he’s in the shower getting both himself and my iPhone clean. There’s really no in between.

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One fun thing about having 3 kids under 5 is that – at any given moment – I have no idea where at least one of my children is. It’s why we love enclosed activities these days. Open, public parks are our new worst nightmare.

Thankfully, though, our church has a great indoor playscape right in the middle of the atrium. One of our current favorite activities is playing in it after preschool. It’s clean, our friends are there, and it’s familiar. It’s far less stressful to keep track of your kids in a familiar place.

Allegedly.

But, of course, I lost Hutton a few weeks ago.

At first it wasn’t a big deal. Our playscape is seriously 3x the height of a Chick-fil-A playscape and fairly easy to lose small children in. But after not seeing Hutt emerge for several minutes, I yelled to Beckett and his friends at the top.

Is Hutton up there? He’s wearing a green and white striped shirt.

“Yeah…I see him.”

Ok great. Thanks!

5 minutes later, when all the big kids emerge:

Is Hutton right behind you? I still haven’t seen him.

“No. He wasn’t up there.”

Suppressing the desire to whine “but you saiiiid…” at a 4 year old, I started scanning the perimeter.

After what I deemed an appropriate time of calm perusal, I started jogging and yelling his name.

Still nothing.

The only downside to our awesome playscape at church is that it’s wide open. Countless hallways, classrooms, bathrooms, exits…all within several feet of the play area.

I ran into our children’s wing where our fabulous children’s ministers were working.

“HAVE YOU GUYS SEEN HUTTON? GREEN AND WHITE STRIPES??”

They immediately took off to look with me.

“You check the building, I’ll check the parking lot.”

Right when I was about to go into full-fledged panic, we found him locked in a classroom. Lights off, alone…and smirking so hard. That little weasel was loving every second of the drama.

It ended up being a nonissue, other than embarrassment of losing a kid in a group full of other, far more responsible parents who have no trouble keeping track of their treasures.

Just kidding. I wasn’t embarrassed then. Nope.

The embarrassment didn’t happen until Sunday morning when I saw our children’s minister and she launched into, “So…funny story about the other day…”

Turns out we had a group of leaders from a different, out-of-state church visiting that day. They were meeting with our pastors, asking questions about ministries, processes, etc.

While meeting with our children’s ministry team, they were inquiring about all things security.

“So if someone is having a meeting at your church building, can they hire their own babysitters?”

Our team: “No. For security and safety, only approved staff can babysit. Background checked, trained, etc.”

“So who are all the kids and adults in the atrium right now?”

Our team: “Those are our preschool kids and their parents. The parents are in charge of their own children right now.”

Which – as you probably guessed – is the moment I sprinted in and interrupted a meeting I didn’t realize was happening by yelling about my missing child.

Incredible timing, really.

It allowed our ministry team to turn to their ministry team and say, “This is why we rely solely on our trained, professional staff. Anyone less and, well, that happens.”

If my only gift to society is lowering the bar for everyone else and possibly providing a laugh in the meantime, I accept. You’re welcome, world.

And to my little toddlertastic hungrymuffin: you are my favorite even though you’re kind of the worst right now.

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