I lost Ava on the beach!


Yesterday, I took our 4 children to the beach because it was hot and humid and the beaches in the Netherlands are windy and fresh. I met up with our friend Maud and her two children, and we were lounging and chatting and drinking fresh fruit juices and watching our children play. You get the gist. At some point, when Pim had asked me to play beach ball with him for the gazzilionest time, I finally got my lazy bum up from the deckchair for some tennis with my boy. After 3 minutes I looked around, and I noticed Ava was missing. Gone!

I started to walk around, looking for her. Nothing. I checked the water. Nothing. I went up to the beach club, nothing. And then I started to panic. I started to run around, calling her name. I called the alarm number, I went back to the beach club, where the part time manager was a police agent, and who took my calls from the coast guard (!). He tried to calm me, assuring me that she would be fine, she would get back. But the only thing I could focus on, is on that tiny chance that she wouldn’t be allright! I don’t think I have ever been so afraid in my life. In the meantime, there were loads of people (other mums) helping me search. Maud was running all over the beach and to the streets. But she was gone!

After a few minutes (in which I died a thousand deaths), my hero policeman finally got a call that she was found. Safely, further up on the beach. Quite a very far walk away!

Thankfully, she was safe. Tired, but safe. And I learned a few things, that I wanted to share with you here…

1. Beaches can be busy. In our case it was! Ava lost her way, and couldn’t find our spot again. So she started to walk, looking for us. What I usually do (and stupidly forgot this time), is to look for an anchor point — a certain flag, pole, bright umbrella, any reference that is noticeable enough for a child to find their way back to our spot.

2. Children should always wear a phone number on their arm. My other children were wearing their RingRings, but Ava had taken them off and I hadn’t checked / noticed. Stupid.

3. When children loose their way on the beach, they generally start walking away from the sun and the wind. So best to start looking in that direction. (So true — in our case, this is exactly the direction in which Ava went).

4. There’s an Amber alert app for your phone, in which you can save a current portrait photo of your child and other crucial information for when your child goes missing. I’ve had this app on my phone for a while now, but I never filled out my children’s details until now. Apparently, finding a decent photo of your missing child and recalling crucial information like length and eye colour is super difficult if you’re in a state of total stress and shock.  So best to do this now.

Hopefully none of this is ever necessary, but I thought to tell you just in case. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

xxx Esther

(Artwork by Andreas Gursky)



Comments (19)

July 25, 2014

oh dear! so sorry to hear! glad it turned out well
will check the ringring, such a good idea 🙂
nivea in brazil had a great idea (that won a Cannes Lion award this year) for the mums in Rio de J beach: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9ZDyLlcdww

Esther in Amsterdam
July 25, 2014

That is BRILLIANT!! I wish we would have those here in Europe! x

Emilie in Paris
July 25, 2014

Ai, how scary. So glad to hear she is ok. I have previously just written my phone number with a ballpoint on the kids arm.

July 25, 2014

That is terrifying!! I’m looking into that app – I have four children and I often lose one at the school at pick- up time, let alone the beach! The sun thing is also really interesting. One thing I learnt about the beach the other week is that waves can take you even if you’re not in the water. (I know this is pretty obvious but just not something id really thought about before). A day after my kids were building sandcastles near the shore, a freak wave washed a little boy out to see at the very same spot we were at. It freaked me out and will always be in the back of my mind when we’re near the water.

July 25, 2014

Ps, that Nivea Ad is a genius idea. I’m going to ask them if they can do it here in Australia for our upcoming summer!

Berlin Kangaroo
July 25, 2014

I am so sorry you had to experience those moments of ‘What If?’….and a, delighted to here Ava was found safe and sound. Thank you for the reminders of keeping safe, alert and most of all prepared.

July 25, 2014

Wow, this acctually made me order 3 ring ring’s just a second ago. Brilliant idea! Thanks a billion for the advice! So glad Ava made it back to you safely.

July 25, 2014

Really Esther… I’m so sorry for you that you have been through this! My Mama-heart aches for you during these 30 mins…So glad she is safe!! And thank you so much for sharing….these advices are priceless!

July 25, 2014

Reading this made me nearly cry- sounded so scary. I can only imagine your horror. Thanks for posting these great tips, they’re so helpful!!
So glad your babe is safe.

July 25, 2014

Poor you Esther – I got all teary just reading the post! Thank GOD she was fine!!! xxx

July 25, 2014

My heart was in my throat just reading this. How scary for you! My friend lost her toddler briefly at a birthday party because she didn’t tell one specific person to watch him. What happened is that everyone assumed that someone else was watching him so no one was paying attention. My advice is, if you’re in a busy, crowded place and you have to go to another room or deal with another child, assign your child to one person and make sure they know that they’re it.

July 26, 2014

Eek – I’m so glad your post had a happy ending…it was a tough one to read since we all dread that exact scenario. As we are moving back to the east coast/big city soon, your tips and suggestions come at the perfect time! Thank you!

July 26, 2014

OMG how terrifying!!!!!! I lost my kids as well at least once…and it’s not something you want to experience EVER AGAIN!!! So glag Ava is alright…

July 27, 2014

I can only imagine how you must have felt inside. My worst nightmare. So glad she was found safe. So horrible for you to go through & so horrible to read of your terror, but thank you for sharing & for the wake up call… you can never be too careful. x

July 28, 2014

hoooooo these happens to all my kids also having this , you have a good end right

July 28, 2014

What a story, didn’t think another second and tried to order the Ring RIngs for my kids. However the website let me place an order, complete the payment, but I still haven’t received an confirmation email. Little worried as I have left my cc details…….

Esther in Amsterdam
July 30, 2014

Hi Caroline, Not sure why you didn’t receive an email… Maybe you can send them an email and ask? http://www.ring-rings.com/contacts/ — I’m sure it’s all ok! (But let me know if not!) x

July 29, 2014

Oh my goodness, I’ve just read this. I think most parents have list their child at one point or another and can identify with the blind panic you experienced. SO glad Ava was ok and thanks for sharing your tips.

August 11, 2014

We had a terrifying scare this summer while vacationing in Sardinia. I thought we’d lost my daughter and friend for what seemed like 30 minutes. 3 adults searching for them while i stayed back with the other children. The deepest pain i have ever felt. I am so glad your Ava is safe. an incredibly important topic to cover, i’m still processing how to best share our story. thank you for your tips.

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