News today that UK Prime Minister David Cameron left his 8 year old daughter in a pub. This happened a few months ago but apparently Cameron thought his daughter was with her mother and her mother thought she was with
him. In fact, she was in the bathroom and neither realized it. Of course, Cameron’s daughter learned of the error first and was safe and sound with the pub owners.
On the one hand, as those who watched The West Wing know, the story does not paint a good picture for the PM’s security detail who, let’s face it, need to be on top of things like this. On the other hand, sans the whole security thing, this is a pretty plausible scenario. It is one of the reasons Home Alone resonated with parents.
The ‘joint responsibility’ over child misplacement scenario is actually the milder ones of parents because it is difficult to assign blame. We almost lost our eldest daughter in a crowd in Hong Kong. My wife and I became separated from each other and we agreed on the phone that rather than working out how to find each other we would get in a cab and go to the hotel. She had our two youngest and thought I had our eldest. I thought she had all three. So I was very surprised when our eldest daughter popped up as I was getting into a cab and said, “wow, it was hard finding you.” That was seconds away from disaster although I am fairly confident we would have located her eventually as she knew our phone numbers.
What can be worse for parents is the ‘sole responsibility’ scenario. That is where one parent has clear responsibility and loses a child. I lost our youngest at Disneyland. As I searched around all I could think was that her mother was going to kill me. I actually had little concern for our daughter’s safety. It was Disneyland after all! They excel at lost children so much so they call their locator service ‘lost parents.’ If a child finds themselves there they have a fun time and an ice cream. Actually, I wonder sometimes that the Disney solution may be so good, parents might ‘accidentally’ lose a child and have a couple of hours rest.
The point is that if world leaders can misplace a child and all is well, we know there is no reason to truly fret about it. Sadly, as this post shows, the world hasn’t caught up to a more relaxed notion. Sometimes the law freaks out instead.
[Update: And I should tell you that I am not making this up. While I was writing this post, my son's school rang to ask where my son was. Turns out that he was supposed to go on an excursion and somehow wasn't accounted for. We had left him at school but he had to do something prior to the excursion that was not part of the normal flow of the day. Suffice it to say, when they realized that the school worked out where he was. I can imagine that the 'school responsibility' scenario is not one that teacher's relish.]