|Not actual child|
The admin office lady made an announcement over the PA, I shooed the girls off to class and set off to join the search. But lo and behold, I didn't even get as far as the door when I spied a little boy in a green jacket strolling happily down the corridor. So I called his name and took his hand and we went to find his mum. Two minutes later they were reunited, the frantic search was called off, and all was well. The little boy himself was completely unperturbed by all the fuss.
But what upset me a little was how distressed his mum was. 'I'm such a bad mother,' she sobbed, tears rolling down her cheeks. Another mum and I patted her back and told her not to be silly, it happens to everyone -- and really, if you think about it, a primary school on a quiet street is a pretty good place to lose a toddler. There were lots of people around to help, and not much trouble to get into. Of course it's deeply scary to mislay a small child, even for a few minutes, but it was very unlikely that this story would have anything other than a happy ending. I really hope this mother isn't going to spend the rest of the day beating herself up about what a terrible parent she is, when the only thing that happened was that her confident, comfortable little boy went exploring, in an overwhelmingly safe environment, and was out of her sight for a few minutes.
This is where I've found the excellent Lenore Skenazy and Free Range Kids such a boon. She talks about the dangers of "worst-first" thinking, the astronomical unlikelihood of the actual worst-case scenario happening, and the very real harms and dangers that result from smothering our kids and not allowing them to face any risks, however minor. (There are also inadvertently hilarious, and frequently disturbing, stories about what happens when people take the no-risk-is-acceptable approach waaay too far.) Do check it out.