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Did Anyone Remember to Pack Our Daughter?

Andrea Sachs

I admit that I have forgotten items now and then, especially when I am caught up in the tornado of travel. I have left my passport in a bathroom stall in the Zurich airport (embarrassing!) and misplaced one of my bags at a car rental office in Los Angeles. But I have never left behind a family member. Unfortunately, a brood from Israel can't make the same claim.

According to news reports, a family of five became a family of four after the group rushed to catch a Sunday flight to Paris from Ben-Gurion airport near Tel Aviv. In their mad dash, they left behind their 4-year-old daughter. She was last seen in the duty-free shop (probably without a boarding pass, so she couldn't even buy a Toblerone bar). The parents did not become aware of their minus one until 40 minutes into the flight. They were alerted by a crew member, not by the sense that one of their kids was oddly quiet during take off.

Fortunately, the wee one was found by a police officer and was placed on the next flight to Paris, accompanied by an airline employee. Perhaps the little girl can find a new set of parents in Paris, ones who will take her to the top the Eiffel Tower and will buy her sweets at a patisserie and will remember her at all times, especially in a scary-busy airport where people are flapping around like ducks during hunting season.

I, for one, am stunned by the parents' obliviousness and carelessness. A child is not a piece of luggage or a passport. She is your irreplaceable offspring, and I am glad that Israeli authorities are looking into potential child negligence.

However, I am sure children will continue to be accidentally abandoned in airports, train stations and other foreign places. I await the day when I feel a tug on my leg and hear a small child ask me, "Are you my mommy?"

By Andrea Sachs |  August 7, 2008; 7:17 AM ET  | Category:  Andrea Sachs
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"I, for one, am stunned by the parents' obliviousness and carelessness."

My goodness, but you are pretty judgmental!

This is hardly the first time something like this has happened. Just recently a family left a little boy in a Candian airport. The Dad thought the Mom had him and the Mom thought the Dad had him. It's understandable how that kind of miscommunication could happen when every one is stressed and rushed. I think that family didn't figure it out until they landed because they weren't all sitting together.

It's called a mistake - yes, it's a horrifying mistake that could have tragic consequences, but a mistake nonetheless. The lesson to take away from these and similar events is to keep a hand on your child in these circumstances. But to attack the parents is not really necessary - certainly they are horrified enough.

Posted by: Wow | August 7, 2008 8:36 AM

I'm with Wow. This incident sounds like negligence only if you assume that the family boarded together as a group. It's quite possible that they had split up (taking one kid to the bathroom, whatever) and that each parent thought the other had the 4 year old when they boarded the plane. And then they weren't all seated together on the plane, so they still didn't realize their mistake.

I worry about this kind of thing happening all the time with my own family!

Posted by: acorn | August 7, 2008 8:43 AM

A MISTAKE? No, folks, a "mistake" is forgetting to pack enough underwear, NOT forgetting your 4 year old!!! I would think a four year old would have been seated with at least one of the parents, correct???

Posted by: What? | August 7, 2008 8:50 AM

Yes it is necessary to attack the parents because they were completely negligent. There is no excuse for leaving a child behind, none. Maybe they split up and maybe they weren't sitting together, so? That doesn't excuse them from forgetting their child. My wife and I have travelled many times with our two young children and we always make sure we know where the kids are at all times.

If for some reason we are sitting separately, we decide ahead of time who is sitting with which kid(s). So if somehow a child who is supposed to be sitting with one of us isn't there, we would never assume he/she is with the other parent. We would go and check and make sure the child is there.

Yes, it was an honest mistake by the parents. But it is a mistake that should never happen.

Posted by: Seriously | August 7, 2008 9:04 AM

On occasion, my mother and I still go shopping together.

Even though I'm approaching 40 - and my older siblings are past that mark - she still, reflexively, holds her hand out behind her and beckons for me to grab onto it. She has no idea she's doing it (since it's now something she does for grandchildren).

As this is most likely to happen on an escalator, I usually remind her I'm old enough to navigate them on my own, but thanks for the offer of assistance ;)

That's just at the mall. When we traveled together as a family in an airport, we weren't allowed out of sight of a parent, period.

I'm sorry, there's being judgmental and there's noting that someone is being irresponsible. I don't always agree with Andrea, but I do here.

Everyone makes mistakes - I can see them leaving the Duty Free shop without the child, no problem. But boarding the plane (and being on it for 40 minutes)? Even if separated, they should have at least noticed during the boarding process. I'm sure the seating arrangements demanded it.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 7, 2008 9:20 AM

I've been a lurker on this blog for the longest time, but I have to speak up: Andrea, you are completely right!! I agree with Anon -- and why don't you blog every day? You're the only one whoever has something interesting to say!!!!

Posted by: Trixie11 | August 7, 2008 9:57 AM

Sounds like the movie Home Alone! I can't believe it happened in real life! Can anyone say "head count?"

Posted by: LBH219 | August 7, 2008 9:58 AM

Oops - I'm Anonymous at 9:20. Forgot to put my name...

Posted by: Chasmosaur | August 7, 2008 10:31 AM

" family of five became a family of four"
Every article I have read says its five kids. So a family of SEVEN became a family of SIX. There is a big difference between 5 kids and 3 kids, especially in the hustle and bustle of running late. I think its totally conceivable that one can go missing at the last minute before bording (no one it watching b/c everyone it watching). I'm surprised they didn't notice on the plane.

Posted by: RT | August 7, 2008 10:47 AM

Ug! I can't type this morning. it=is I meant to say "no one is watching b/c everyone is watching." The concept being that everyone is 100% sure that someone else has the child.

Posted by: RT | August 7, 2008 10:51 AM

Anon at 9:20am - I am 44 and my mom still does that too. We will always be kids to moms!

Posted by: What? | August 7, 2008 11:31 AM

No great lose! Come on. One less kid. Its not like she was coyote bait. Or a mountain lion snatched her. That's why
they had 5 kids you are always going to have attrition!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 7, 2008 12:20 PM

I was wondering which situation would hit here first. The abandonment, or the decapitation on the bus.
I am with you Andrea. I can see missing the little tyke on leaving the Duty Free Shop. But if they had to hurry to catch the plane, why were they shopping anyway?!?!? Even if they had seats in different areas, no excuse for not missing the little girl for 40 minutes.

Posted by: rja112 | August 7, 2008 12:51 PM

You shouldn't have 5 kids if you're going to forget them. Sounds like they would've been better off with 2 or 3.

Posted by: Liz | August 7, 2008 3:17 PM

"You shouldn't have 5 kids if you're going to forget them. Sounds like they would've been better off with 2 or 3."

Well, at this rate, give them time...

Posted by: jane | August 7, 2008 3:19 PM

In Home Alone, the way the child was forgotten was conceivable because they did count all the kids in the rush to the airport but one of them was a neighbor. THE SIBLINGS MAY HAVE WANTED THIS--WHO KNOWS :).

Posted by: DJP (seattle) | August 7, 2008 5:49 PM

fr DJP:

>In Home Alone, the way the child was forgotten was conceivable because they did count all the kids in the rush to the airport but one of them was a neighbor...

I always have thought that to be one of the STUPIDEST movies ever made.

Posted by: Alex | August 11, 2008 3:30 PM

I thought I read that they were taking a chartered flight. It's one thing to lose a kid on a flight of several hundred, a whole different monster when it's a very small plane. And presumably if you can afford a charter, you can afford to bring a baby sitter so you can be irresponsible.

Posted by: S | August 11, 2008 5:01 PM

Yo whoever from the Post is reading the comments - you really should fix the original text to read "family of seven" and "family of six." They had five kids, not three as the original text suggests. Big difference!

Posted by: h3 | August 11, 2008 5:45 PM

In Little Miss Sunshine the daughter was momentarily left behind. It was intended to illustrate (amongst many other examples) how dysfunctional the family was.

I do hope Social Services investigate the family's ability to take care of their children.

Posted by: Darn Good Parent | August 11, 2008 10:23 PM

That is one of the biggest problems with ultra Orthdox Jewish families (I live among them). They are so busy making babies they do not have the time to take good care of them.

They should go to jail for this horrible act. There is no excuse----------------.

Posted by: Eliyana | August 13, 2008 2:51 PM

Eliyana, it doesn't matter if you're living "among them" -- your generalization is anti-Semitic and just plain icky. Classy.

Posted by: Queen Esther | August 13, 2008 4:22 PM

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