(Style note: John does NOT approve of my hat selection. It was $1 at the second hand store and it dries quickly. What can I say.)They resolved the dilemma by migrating freely between the two. It seemed this was a common approach, but it was a bit difficult for me as they didn't always coordinate their shifting attentions. I'm on heightened alert after a missing child scare on Sunday.
Edward got lost in the after-church crowd. It was only about 5 minutes, but very scary for all involved. There was an outdoor reception for our departing priest. Edward knew there would be treats and was making a beeline for the food table. Our friend who sits with us most weeks and is legally blind (though still with some vision) was having trouble in the transition from dark church to bright sunlight and couldn't see where the priest was to say good-bye. I took a moment to guide her and when I was done, Edward was nowhere to be seen.
Keep in mind that our church is crowded so probably 100-150 people were milling about. I looked all over and didn't see him. A friend of mine saw me with just Daniel, and could tell without my saying anything that I was getting frantic. She grabbed Daniel so I could keep looking. She also went back into church to see if he'd gone back. Another friend headed for the church basement. Nothing. I even lifted the tablecloth on the food table to see if he'd decided to hide under there. Nada.
Then I saw another woman (grandma-ish age) leading him back toward me. I recognized her, but don't know her. She'd found him alone and asked if he was lost. He told her he thought I'd left without him, and she asked my name and what color our car was. Then she took him across to the parking lot to look for me. He later said he thought he had seen me walking toward the parking lot. At some point, he told her he wanted to go back, so they did and that's when we found each other. (I know she had good intentions, but I'm wondering why she thought a parent would simply leave without a four-year-old child? If she'd stayed where she found him, it all would have ended much sooner.)
Of course we both started bawling as I'm squeezing him as hard as I could. I thanked the woman and we ran to find our other friends to let them know the search was over. And it turned out he'd never gotten his treat, so we went back to the food table and had a bite of danish and a glass of juice to calm down. He actually was not as upset as I would have expected. It definitely took me longer to regain composure than it did him!
So we had a lot of short talks the rest of the day about why we always insist on holding hands in crowded places and that the best thing is to stay right where you are when you realize you can't find Mom or Dad. If someone offers to help you ask them to wait with you. (We tried a little practice at home later in the evening, but it wasn't very realistic.)
Needless to say, at this Sunday's departing priest reception (both of our priests have been transferred simultaneously--great management, Archdiocese!) all hands will be held tightly!