She was two years old at the time, my oldest was four.
My husband and I were vacation-clothes shopping for our upcoming family trip to visit his sisters in California.
It’s always better for both of us if we split up while shopping-he’s a gawker and a browser. I’m a find-what-I-need-try-it-on-get-the-hell-out kind of shopper so we do better alone. He takes one kid, I take one kid-it just works.
We were both nearing our limit of public exposure (them to us, not us to them) and met up to discuss where we should go for dinner and our exit plan.
I said, “Give me all your shit and I’ll go stand in line and pay-you take the kids out to the car and pick me up at the door.”
We stood there talking about this for no more than 3 minutes.
He turned to grab two kid’s hands, and one kid was gone.
She was nowhere in sight.
I called her name as I walked through a few clothes racks, but she didn’t answer and I still didn’t see her.
Minutes went by and I started to panic.
You could hear the panic in my voice. I could hear my husband calling out for her from halfway across the store.
Other shoppers were asking me what she looked like, what was she wearing?
I thought, OMG…what WAS she wearing? I can’t remember. I felt flushed and dizzy. Peoples voices started to sound echoed. Where was my baby?
Over the loud speaker I heard “CODE RED, CODE RED” and they locked the doors. Nobody could go in or out. All the cashiers and stock people stopped working and were looking for my daughter. Customers were looking for my daughter. I just stopped. I thought, holy shit. What’s happening? How did this happen? She was right there with us, now she’s gone. Somebody could’ve scooped her up and went out the door already, and we’re all looking for her and locking the doors to keep her in, but what if she’s already been taken outside? And put in a car? And driven away?
I felt sick. I felt numb. I started to cry and yell louder for her. I was totally panicking. I was losing it.
Then a women customer said “I think she’s here. Is she wearing turquoise pants?” And she starts to walk towards me.
Yes. YES. She is wearing turquoise pants! I remember now.
“She’s hiding back against that wall behind those 2 racks of clothes…”
I ran to her. And there she was. Hiding. With a big smile on her face. And I wanted to smack her ass right into next Tuesday. But all I could do was cry and hug her and hold her. Until Dennis snatched her out of my arms, and took her and my big kid out to the car. I carried on with my purchase and everyone went back to their doings as if nothing ever happened.
I was so shook up.
Dennis was grateful, but completely embarrassed.
Later on when I was getting the kids ready for bed, little one was on the toilet and I sat down in front of her and said, “You had mommy so scared today. Never go away from mommy again. Didn’t you hear mommy calling for you?”
She said, “Yes…I heard you all call for me and call for me and call for meee…..so I laughed real quiet”
You little shit.
From that moment on I knew raising baby #2 would be an adventure, no doubt full of moments that would make me want to punch myself in the face. She has not disappointed me or proved me wrong.
The next day I bought her a leash. One made for kids, not the dog kind. I think it’s called a tether or something. I doubt it’s technically called a kid leash, but that’s what I called it. I used it every time we went into crowded places. For 3 years. Now she uses it on her dolls.
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