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The Day My Daughter Went Missing

One day not long after our younger daughter was born, my husband and I were home on leave.

It was one of those classic Seattle fall days where, with the days getting shorter, it felt dark and dreary.  In the late afternoon, the day’s steady drizzle turned to a downpour.

At the time, our older daughter typically walked home from school, but because of the weather shift, my husband decided to do her a solid and pick her up so she didn’t get drenched.

He hopped in the car, drove to the school, got in the interminably long pick-up line, and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

No kiddo.  She hadn’t walked by his car, and she wasn’t in the pickup line.

Before he knew it, he was the only parent waiting at the school to pick up a child.

We are not overreactors about this kind of thing, but the threads of worry did start to creep in, so he parked the car and walked up to and around the school looking for our kid.

When he couldn’t find her, he called me to see if I had forgotten about an after-school activity or might have any idea where she was. I didn’t.

We stayed on the phone together brainstorming where to look next, and as we did, lo and behold, our daughter walked in the door.


Perplexed, I let my husband know she was okay, hung up the phone, and asked what had happened.

It turns out a well-meaning neighbor who was there to rescue her daughter from the rain offered our kiddo a ride as well. Without a second thought, she accepted.

My kid was dry, safe, and grateful for the ride.

My husband and I, on the other hand, were pretty upset.

Why? And what did we learn from this?

Two key takeaways:

  1. As an adult, NEVER give someone else’s child a ride without their express permission. Moving someone’s child from one place to another—even to be nice or helpful—can create unnecessary worry, concern, and could land you in trouble.  ASK FIRST.
  2. Remind your children to NEVER accept a ride from anyone—even someone they know, like, and trust—without checking in with their adult-in-charge first. This includes neighbors, grandparents, friend’s parents—even one of their own parents if the other is expecting them to be someplace or doesn’t know.  Again, ASK FIRST.

Like the overwhelmingly large majority of “missing kid” cases, ours was short-lived and ended well. But it was a good reminder that safety rules are in place for a reason.

So, we thanked our neighbor for her kindness and asked that she not do this again, AND we had another safety talk with our daughter.

All’s well that ends well.

Maybe next time, we’ll just let her walk in the rain.  😉

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Christy Keating fun headshot

Christy Keating is a certified parent coach,  positive discipline educator, and motivational speaker. She is the founder and CEO of The Heartful Parent Collective, which includes Heartful Parent Coaching, Savvy Parents Safe Kids, and Heartful Parent Academy.

The mother of two amazing daughters, Christy strives to build a happier, healthier world - one child, one parent, and one family at a time.