If there is one thing that will really hurt a children more than almost anything, it is abandonment. When a child senses that the people that are meant to care most about them in their life care not a lick for them to the extent that they just leave them somewhere to fend for themselves, it is one of the worst feelings in the world. Granted, the feeling of abandonment changes over the life of a child.
For example, we were told that the reason that our then extremely young baby Chaim Yosef would start screaming in terror when we would leave the room to use the facilities was because he didn’t perceive the possibility that we were going to come back. Contrast that with now, when I have not many problems leaving Chaim Yosef in the room with some toys and an explanation — “Tati has to go to the kitchen to wash some dishes. Don’t worry, he’s not going to be far away.” He seems to be okay with this.
Now consider the case of Harmony, who was having a perfectly good time with a group of people up until the point that the group of people left and somehow managed to not notice that she was missing. I suspect that none of these people have ever considered the notion of doing a simple head count when moving around with a group of people, particularly when that group of people includes a child. When little Harmony got thirsty and asked an employee of the restaurant for some water, said employee couldn’t help but wondering why this girl was wandering around the restaurant by herself.
This eventually led to her father having to be summoned to the police department at eleven thirty in the evening, presumably well beyond Harmony’s normal bed time. I would like to suggest that if you are ever with a group of people that includes children, you never move from one place to another unless you are absolutely positive that every single person is present. I would like to further suggest that if there is a three year old child in the group, it is important to be extra vigilant because they do tend to run off on a whim, as Harmony did, to play some more games — and it is times like those that you need to be stern yet loving and tell said child that the group is moving on and that you will return again another time to play games.
We should be grateful for the alert restaurant employee for his part in bringing Harmony to safety as well as the kind members of the police department who kept her safe until her seemingly neglectful parent was able to make an appearance.