If you have ever lost sight of your children – even for a split second – you will know what that gnawing sick feeling is like that clutches at your very core and makes your insides instantly drop.
Your heart pounds so hard in your chest you can almost hear it roar and your ears seem to pop like you’re making the fastest decent in a careering aeroplane.
It’s the sort of feeling no parent ever wants to experience.
And it’s the sort of feeling you can never understand unless you are a parent.
I lost both of my children while out for a bike ride on Sunday afternoon while walking the 10 minute journey from grandma’s house to ours.
One minute they were cycling beside me, giggling, faces in the sun. The next minute they were gone.
I could feel the panic rising inside, taking my very breath away and making my chest tighten.
I actually felt an overwhelming urge to whimper but I tried to remain calm and rational.
I was on my own. It was a quiet Sunday afternoon and everyone was probably having their Sunday dinner, going about their lives.
I was racing up the path where I had last seen them, fighting the urge not to cry and telling myself everything would be OK.
We live on a fairly quiet estate with few roads and lots of open space.
My seven-year-old son is really sensible and will look after his little sister.
I know this, I KNOW this. And yet still I’m fighting tears pricking at the corner of my eyes.
I get a text message from grandma after 10 long minutes to tell me they’ve cycled back to her house.
Sensible Dan had calmed his crying sister down and told her everything would be OK and he would guide them to safety.
I confess I used cross words when I saw them: Don’t ever ride off like that without telling me where you are. Don’t ever do that again.
But really, it wasn’t their fault. They were safe and I was relieved and proud that they knew what to do.
So this is a warning to anyone and everyone with a child: Don’t assume they know what to do if ever they should get lost.
“Find a policeman” isn’t going to cut it if they’re lost near home or in the supermarket.
I don’t know at what age they really understand the importance of this subject – 2, 3, 5, 7?
But start now. It’s one of those things that you think will never happen to you, but kids will be kids and it’s got to be better to be prepared, right?