In years past, people looked out for one another’s kids. But now they’ll call the cops if they see your daughter naked from the waist down, playing in a puddle, in the neighbor’s driveway.
It all started with a frantic, “Where’s your sister? Where is she!” We searched the house in all the usual places, and came up with nothing. “Get outside, we have to find her.”
Everyone on our street had at least an acre and the driveways are long, but she was soon spotted. She had neatly taken off her diaper and laid it aside before getting into the pool. I mean puddle. Oh no, I hope she doesn’t get worms, I hate worms. That would be the worst. “H-a-a-a-n-n-n-a-a-a-h, get out of the puddle.”
“Boys, run and get my camera.” She may be in the neighbor’s puddle and I do hate worms, but I must get a picture of this. Twice more she escaped to her private kiddie pool. Then the weather dried up and her fun was over. Thankfully, by the next rainstorm, her infatuation with the puddle was over.
Pay-Back How many times had I heard about my childhood wandering? Like my mother’s famous retellings of when I got lost in K-Mart, and then Disneyland. But these days—stores have a security plan for a missing child. Once you say you can’t find your child, they shut down the store. So, on this particular evening, I didn’t want the staff to know I’d lost her.
The fact that I would take a little girl with me while I shopped for bras shows I wasn’t using good judgement. Added to the fact, it was getting later in the evening, and she kept saying she was tired and wanted to go home.
I shopped while constantly keeping my eye on her, to the dressing room, back to the racks, then the dressing room, you understand. She started circling the racks and I would keep calling her name and she would answer, until she didn’t.
“Hannah?. . .Hannah, answer me.”
I circled the rack, no Hannah. I started circling all the racks while calling her name in a hushed shout. Now I’m in a bad situation. If I go look for her, she could come back to this spot, not see me, and take off again. Remembering the time Isaac decided to play hide-and-seek at the outlet mall, which resulted in shutting down the entire mall, I didn’t want to ask for help.
My plan was to ask an employee to keep an eye out where I had been shopping, and I’d go look for her. I asked a young lady employee who obviously didn’t understand a mother’s perspective. But she was vigilant in her training. “You can’t find your daughter? What does she look like? I have to call security.”
“NO. No, you don’t have to call security, I’m sure she’s here somewhere.” She called security. The doors to the store were locked, an announcement came over the loudspeaker like an official in store Amber Allert. All employees were instructed to stop their work, and search for the blonde three-year-old whose mother doesn’t have the decency to take her home and put her to bed.
There was nothing I could do about my humiliation, I might as well find her. Then we can go home. Of course, this happened right when I finally found a bra that would fit. I set it down, I’d come back another day—alone—and buy it.
I rounded the corner of the aisle and saw a group of employees standing in a semi-circle. A couple of them looked my way with grins on their faces.
Dang, I should have known. On the way to the bra section we’d passed the sample beds. They were short beds that showed off the designs of bedding sets. Hannah said they were the cutest beds ever and wished she had one. Now there she lies. Snuggled under the comforter with designer pillows surrounding her, she smiled at all the attention. I must admit, she was cute. If your kids are going to cause problems, hopefully they’ll do it while looking cute. People are more forgiving that way.
It can happen to anyone.
Losing my daughter didn’t leave me with guilt because almost everyone has temporarily lost a child. Even if I didn’t want the clerk to call security, I’m grateful stores have great security systems in place and we have Amber Alerts for real emergencies.
Is there a time you panicked or became frustrated with a child that wandered off? How have you cured a child that’s constantly getting lost? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.