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Jenna Bush Hager Says She ‘Lost One Child’ at Her Daughter’s Party

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Jenna Bush Hager is done. The Today With Hoda and Jenna host announced she is “retiring” from both water parks and big birthday parties for her kids after a celebration for her daughter Mila went sideways. 

Bush Hager spilled the story on Monday’s show, explaining how she brought 15 girls along to the American Dream mall in East Rutherford, New Jersey — which doubles as an amusement park that includes roller coasters and water slides — to celebrate Mila’s 11th birthday over the weekend. 

“We were in the water park,” she began, explaining with air quotes that she “forgot” her bathing suit. 

“Mila and her friends were having a blast and it was wonderful until we lost one child,” she deadpanned. 

Jenna Bush Hager and daughter Mila on 'Today' – Helen Healey/NBC via Getty Images

Bush Hager said that she had initially tried to buy matching rash guards for partygoers, but they didn’t arrive in time. On the day of the party, she instructed the kids to use a “partner system” to keep track of each other and set a deadline to reconvene at a designated meeting place at 2:15 p.m. 

“I thought, ‘I was a teacher. I took 24 kids on a subway in Washington, D.C., by myself. I got this,” she said. “Well, it turns out I didn’t really have it when it’s your own children who don’t listen to you the way your students did.” 

Bush Hager said that it was her 8-year-old daughter, Poppy, who lost track of her buddy, describing the kiddo as “the smallest among us.” 

“I panicked,” she recalled. “I wouldn’t choose which child to lose, but I would not want to lose her, OK?” 

As Hoda Kotb asked how Bush Hager handled the situation, the mom of three quipped, “How do you think I acted? Absolute panic.” 

Bush Hager went on to reprimand her daughter, who said that the pals parted ways because her friend “didn’t want to go on the scary ride.” Then, to Bush Hager’s horror, Poppy suggested that her friend might be alone in the wave pool. 

In the end, “all’s well that ends well” as the lost kid was found waiting patiently near a recognizable landmark. 

“I found her waiting by the lion from some movie,” Bush Hager said. “Poppy did mention that she might be waiting for me by the lion, but I said, ‘That should have been the headline.'” 

From now on, Bush Hager insists that her kids won’t be treated to any more supersized parties. 

“I am retiring from water parks,” she declared. “I am retiring from big parties. I have decided, ‘Nope.’ I’ve said, ‘You can have your cousin and a friend, we can do small things.’ No more. Mama is done.” 

The statement prompted Bush Hager and Kotb to playfully fire off a list of other parenting sore spots they are so over, including big parties, staying up past bedtime, ungrateful behavior, complaints about dinner, jumping on a parent without warning, and — for themselves — making grandiose (but truthfully empty) threats. 

Today With Hoda & Jenna celebrated its fifth anniversary last week in New Orleans, Louisiana, and ET was with the co-hosts for a fun round of Spilling the E-Tea. As Bush Hager and Kotb interviewed each other, the former opened up about relatable mom fails. Kotb asked, for example, if Bush Hager has ever pretended to bake a cake when it was store bought or if she’d ever thrown away her kids’ artwork.

“Yeah, I definitely throw out my kids’ artwork,” quipped Bush Hager, who shares children Mila, 11, Poppy, 8, and Hal, 4, with husband Henry Hager.

Bush Hager added, “It made me feel bad. I felt like I needed to stop doing that because they know.”

She quipped that teachers “need to send home just the fine art … one piece a year, but if it’s not good enough, we probably will put it in the recycling box.”

See the segment below. 

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