I just have to blog about this today. I'm staying up late doing so, but it's so worth it! Do you guys remember Princess Kitty? I'm not sure if she's made huge appearances on my blog, but I know a few times I've mentioned her, or posted a picture?
I travel a lot for racing and training. My daughter has grown up with this, and she considers it pretty normal, but in the last few years, especially as travel has increased, she started to express some of her concerns. Being a mom and chasing the goals that I had often times felt in opposition. I knew if I was going to find harmony in this situation, it was going to come from listening to my daughters concerns, asking lots of questions to really understand the root of them, and seeking unique solutions that met her needs. I knew that for me, this did not mean setting my dreams aside and just staying home all the time.
One of the many unique solutions we have come up with is the Adventures of Princess Kitty. When I travel, I take Princess Kitty with me most of the time. I take photos of her on my rides and runs, or with pretty backdrops, and I text them to Annie. Sometimes we get on FaceTime so Princess Kitty can talk to Prince Puppy. It's just become a way between the two of us for me to have a piece of her with me, and for her to feel like she's in on my experiences/adventures.
And then we got to the point where Princess Kitty started coming on all our family adventures. And last weekend, we went to Washington DC for the first time (more on that soon). Annie brought her blankie, because that goes everywhere and doubles as a coat, and she also brought Princess Kitty.
Well, on the way home on Monday, we had a tragedy. We were all tired, we had woken up at 3:15am to catch our flight (1:15am Denver time) and we were a little zombie like traveling through the airport in Denver. We exited the tram and headed to baggage claim when Annie said with panic in her voice "Princess Kitty!" We were out of the secure area and couldn't go back. Annie said she left her on the tram and started to cry.
I must admit, I was super sad too. I lost an entire bag of my favorite clothes coming home from Kona last year, so I knew the feeling of "oh no, my prized possessions are GONE" plus I really love Princess Kitty too. I've toted that cat on some serious training days where didn't have much extra pocket space!
It's really important to me as a parent to honor my daughters feelings and refrain from shaming her. So we cried, we did not do any of the "see what happens when you...." or "why did you..." Nope. We felt the sad emotions for having left behind Princess Kitty. After some tears, we launched into "What can we do about it?" I find this is a good place to go as a parent. I start with one idea, then I ask Annie for the next one. We make a list. Here's what we came up with:
1.) File a report with DIA for missing Princess Kitty
2.) File a report with Southwest
3.) Use social media
4.) buy Princess Kitty 2.0.
We decided against #2 since Annie was SURE that Princess Kitty made it off the airplane. On the way home, even though we had solutions in place, there were many more tears and a lot of whys? and what if's?
"What if another kid takes Princess Kitty?"
"What if they never find Princess Kitty?"
"Why do I always lose things?" (that one made me sad, it's hard being nine)
I remember at one point saying "Maybe she's just off on a fun adventure and she will make her way back when she's ready" It didn't really help Annie, but made me feel better.
Upon arriving home, for the first time in Annies entire life she did not want to go to school. She said "Mom, I'm too sad to go to school" so I said "okay" and we did crafts and read books.
We filed the report with DIA, and I put a tweet out to @DENAirport (DIA has THE BEST twitter account, I have been following them for years).
Two hours later I got an email from DIA saying they were looking for our lost item but hadn't found it. That night I went online, googled my pants off and found a replica of Princes Kitty and ordered it...with 2-day shipping.
This morning another email came from DIA saying they still hadn't found it, but weren't giving up.
Then, later this afternoon, I got a text from my good friend Jen telling me to look at twitter.
And this is when I lost my bananas.
This is the photo they posted:
And then another:
And look what they did with Princess Kitty:
At this point I am crying. Can you believe how precious those photos are. I called Annie right away and told her they found Princess Kitty and to go look at Twitter to see the adventure that she got to go on. Annie flipped out! The sweet ladies at lost and found called me and I said I would bring Annie to come pick her up. We brought flowers and chocolate to say thank you!
Annie gets reunited with Princess Kitty.
I can not say enough nice things about this whole experience. For someone to take the time to treat this experiences in this way literally melts my heart. Princess Kitty was sitting right up high on the window in lost and found, not on the shelves with the coats and umbrellas. She had a tag around her neck, and had been loved and cared for. The ladies at lost and found asked us to come back by on our next trip and say hi. They too fell in love with Princess Kitty.
I can't help but think about the amazing things that continue to happen in my life when I embrace what comes my way and don't judge, shame others, have unrealistic expectations, or a bad attitude. Being able to parent in a way that feels authentic to Annies feelings felt really good, and then to see that Princess Kitty did indeed go on an adventure, and came back when she was ready, well, I don't think that's a coincidence.
I can't thank DIA Airport enough, they are truly the best airport on the planet. I was told that the story of Princess Kitty went all the way up the chain, and for that, my heart smiles. I have so much gratitude!
Princess Kitty now has a twitter page. If you would like to follow along on her adventures, she's @PrincessKittyCO
Also, I would suggest following @DENAirport they are a wealth of knowledge, with lots of humor, and kindness too!