Jenna Bush Hager on losing a kid at her daughter’s birthday party: ‘I am retiring from water parks’

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The agony and the ecstasy (well, mostly agony) of hosting your child's birthday party is universal, as Jenna Bush Hager explained Monday morning on TODAY.

"Mila Hager turned 11," Jenna said of the oldest of her three children.

For Mila's party, she took 15 girls to the American Dream mall, which Jenna described as "quite an extravaganza."

While the kids were running around the theme park and water park contained within the mall (yes, you read that correctly: both are inside the mall), Jenna and husband Henry Hager rode two roller coasters. Hoda Kotb, who has been to the same amusement park said of the roller coasters, "They're both scary."

When the kids transitioned to the water park portion of the party, Jenna, who had forgotten her bathing suit, was unable to get in the water. But as it turns out, she didn't forget her bathing suit. She "forgot" her bathing suit.

"Mila and her friends had a blast," said Jenna. "And it was wonderful ... until we lost one child."

Jenna had contemplated how she would keep tabs on all the kids in the days before the party. She thought about ordering matching rash guards but realized they wouldn't arrive in time.

"So I just let it go, and I thought, 'You know what? I was a teacher. I took 24 kids on a subway in Washington, D.C. by myself. I got this,'" she said.

"And then what?" asked co-host Hoda Kotb.

"Well it turns out, I didn't really have it," Jenna admitted, "when it's your own children who don't really listen to you the way your students did."

Jenna told the party goers, "'Please stay with your partner. That's the No. 1 rule. And the No. 2 rule is: be up here at 2:15 p.m.' Well, nobody showed up at 2:15, and I panicked because the smallest among us, Poppy's little friend who is the cutest, sweetest ... I wouldn't choose which child to lose, but I would not want to lose her, OK?"

If Jenna could save one child — in addition to her own children, of course — this little girl would be the one she would save.

"So what happened?" asked Hoda.

"She went missing," said Jenna. "It was horrible."

Jenna tried to lecture Poppy about staying with her friend, but it turns out that Poppy wanted to go on a scary ride, so she and her friend went in separate directions.

"Finally I found her waiting by the lion from some movie," Jenna said. Apparently Poppy did mention that her friend might be waiting there, but she failed to make that the "headline" of her conversation with her mom. Poppy thought her friend might be in the large, open wave pool, so Jenna started her search there.

"Anyway," Jenna said, "I've realized I love Mila. Happy birthday. I am retiring from water parks."

But that's not all.

"I'm retiring from big parties," she continued. "I've decided, 'Nope.'" She'll bring along a cousin and a friend on a smaller adventure, but no more major excursions.

"Mama is done," Jenna said definitively. "In fact, I think we need to make a 'Mama is done' list of things we're never doing again," said Jenna as Hoda hopped into the mix.

Ticking off items on their fingers, the anchors said that they are done with:

  • big parties

  • kids begging to stay up late

  • ungrateful behavior

  • kids saying, "I don't like my dinner"

  • kids jumping on you without any warning

  • threatening things that are never going to come true

  • parents punishing themselves by taking things away from their kids, leaving parents having to fill the void by playing with their kids all day

"In fact, I'm done playing for a little bit, too," Jenna concluded.

Hoda agreed, "We're tired of playing."

This article was originally published on TODAY.com