This is about an incident earlier this summer, during one of the heat waves...
J was at Origins, a huge game convention (boardgames, LARPs, Miniatures, etc.) and ComFest was right outside. Comfest is a huge gathering of people with alternative lifestyles and all those who come to enjoy watching them, buying their art, listening to their music and inhaling their secondhand pot smoke. For some reason, I decided it would be fun to attend said event with the kids and go see belly dancers from my belly dancing school. I'd never seen them perform and thought it would be fun.
Already, it is clear, that my brain had derailed. I'm taking my children, at dinnertime, on a very hot, muggy day, to an extraordinarily crowded event filled with people who like to revel in their own strangeness. (Actually, Origins is filled with rather the same kind of people, but it's less crowded and there's good A/C.) J loves Origins. He loves to play games. And I was proposing to take him away from it for a couple hours so that we could struggle to herd our children through this throng to watch belly dancers. My original plan was that we would stop at a food stall on the outskirts on the way in, and once everyone was full up, we'd forge ahead into the melee to find the right stage.
I failed to communicate this plan in any way to J, or to C, our friend who was coming with us (and, as of this writing, has not spoken to me since. This could be a coincidence, though.) We marched into the middle of Comfest, passing food tents left and right while struggling with the double stroller and two increasingly fussy children. I kept thinking "we should stop for food" but some bizarre unspoken group-think had us all pressing forward to get to the performance on time. The thing is, I'd had us set out over 90 minutes early, knowing we were stopping for food and knowing that an hour and a half to go approximately 1/4 of a mile with my children in the middle of Comfest is about right. But since I am perpetually late for everything, I think my husband and friend sort of figured we were in a hurry to get there, and we just all sort of plowed forward.
It was very, very crowded. The stroller became a battering ram and we held the kids and just used the stroller to push through the throng. We couldn't find the stage. We were hungry. Food lines for anything in the middle of it all were horrendously long. Our smart phones, overloaded by the sheer number of people on the network, weren't working. (C's was, but there was no map of where things were at Comfest to be found.) Eventually, we found a playground swarming with children. Both kids were immediately begging to play on it, despite the fact that it every square inch of it was covered with children. And teenagers. And some adults. But when you are hot, tired, hungry and a little bit lost, you let your kids play on the playground. So off they went.
C and I stood on the side and J decided to explore the park on his own to see if he could find the right stage. A good plan. C and I chatted, watched the kids, watched the people, and on one of my passes to make eye contact with both children, I couldn't find my daughter.