Parenting

I Lost My Daughter at the Toy Store

Every parent has those scary moments that shake them or make them feel like bad parents. Fortunately I haven’t had to experience too many of those. When A had croup, cut her lip after a fall and had the stomach flu are the only times I remember being truly scared. Then there was yesterday.

Hubby and I decided took the kids to the mall to upgrade our phones. It was taking longer than our 2.5 year-old had patience for, so I took her to the closest store that would entertain her: Toys R Us.

When we got inside the store, A held onto my hand until she found a hula hoop she wanted to play with. I reached for a bucket swing to inspect for our swing set at home but then spotted one on sale. I bent down, telling A to stay with Mommy and picked up the swing. When I stood up, she was gone. Cue the panic and mush brain.

Something happens to humans in panicked moments, or at least I hope I’m not the only one who thinks this. You have the clear-headed thinker who takes control of the situation immediately – this is my husband. Then you have the mush-heads who take a few extra moments to catch up but spend the immediate aftermath of a situation conjuring up worst-case scenarios and trying to get the brain to think in the now and not the “what ifs”. That’s me.

I darted through the aisles calling A’s name and listening for her. Nothing. I went further into the store but was afraid that she had back tracked. Then I remembered that just outside the store there were coin-operated rides that she liked and looked there. Nothing. Then I caught the eye of my husband who rushed to the rescue.

Hubby told an employee that A was lost in the store and she offered to page her. She then sent someone to search the bathrooms. I took post at the store entrance just in case. Within seconds, hubby had found our little girl darting through the aisles, laughing. He scooped her up and she started to cry, asking to read a book about a monkey…I have no idea.

Once I had her safe in my arms, I explained to her that she scared us; she said she was scared, too. I told her that she shouldn’t leave Mommy like that and repeated everything asking if she understood. Upon a nod of that little teary head, we then read a few books and the walked away.

There is a lesson for everyone. A has learned not to run off and stay close to us (though she has yet to be able to demonstrate that) and we have learned that a child disappearing can happen in the blink of an eye and so much can happen in a matter of moments. I am so thankful that it didn’t become a more serious situation.

Hug your kids tight; I know I will.

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