Saturday, January 22, 2011

Little Love Lost

Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation - Kahlil Gibran

While 'quickly popping in' to a Joann's with my sister, Little Z asked to use the potty. Well, I was certainly not going to turn her down! Since my sister and I had arrived in separate cars, she finished her shopping and I headed into the adjacent mall to find a potty. On the way to the potty was a toy store having a 'Sidewalk Sale.' Oooooooh! And right past the bathrooms was an Old Navy. Having a 40%-off-lowest-marked-clearance-prices sale. PLUS an additional 25% off if you use your Old Navy or Gap card! Double Oooooh!

So, potty first. She sat on the public toilet without complaint, leaning into me as I kneeled on the floor. (Uck. At least the bathroom was fairly clean looking!) She didn't end up peeing, but we apparently got there at a popular time, as there was a constant stream of loud flushes the whole time we were there, which unnerved her a little more each time.
I let her play a little in the toy store while I shopped the sale table as a reward for trying the potty. Then back into Joann's to buy the stuff in the cart I had left behind (90% off Christmas clearance!) and then a quick pop into Old Navy to see if they happened to have the sweater dress on clearance that I hadn't bought for her at the one I went to with my sister the week before.  Their baby/toddler clearance was abysmal. Loads of stuff in XS-XL though (roughly 4T to size teen size 3.) Loads. Luckily, kids XL fits me pretty well, in stretchy tees and sweaters, anyway! Cute hooded sweater dresses in my future! (With pants, of course. I can't get away with mini-skirts. Like, ever.)
I also found L-O-A-D-S of sweet deals in womens. Pea coats for $15, then minus the 40% and the 25%, making them $6.75! Regularly over $40! I got a bunch of shirts, most around $2-3 each after all the discounts. Got some hawt corduroy pants for my sister, for around $4, and loads of sweet plain and striped tees for both of us, for around $2 each! My big 'splurge' was a trench coat for $18, clearance priced at $40, and I didn't even LOOK at the original price, but probably at east $60 or more. I've been lusting after a trench or pea coat for years, but they were always so darn expensive!

Anyway. Aside from giving you a heads-up on this fantastic clearance sale, (the extra 25% off when you use your card is going on for a few more days, I think!) it's a little background on where we were when my next little story happens.

So I'm perusing racks and racks of stuff. Kids' for Z, Women's for me and my sister, and Men's for Unka Seesee, since my husband wants to try stuff on, so I don't bother getting him stuff. Unka Seesee gave me all his sizes when I went to the sale last week (no extra 25% off then, but I did get 20% off for opening and account.) Little Z spent most of the time in the cart I cadged from Joann's, since it had my bags in it, to keep my hands free, and my kid in it, to keep my sanity. Plus we parked outside Joann's, so I'd be returning the cart on my way back.
At some point Z wants to get out of the cart and roam a little. I let her out and remind her that she needs to stay near me. She immediately hares off, and I fetch her back and remind her that her choices are to stay near me or go back in the cart. Then I do something stupid. I quickly pop away from where I was browsing to see if I can get their little light show thing to work, since she loves it, and I can let her play there and still see her from where I was currently shopping. But I didn't warn her, since I didn't want her to get all excited about the "light show" if I couldn't find the 'on' switch, which I couldn't.
This quick little distraction takes less than a minute. I'd say 30 seconds, but you know how bad we all are at telling real time, so I'm leaning towards it actually taking more time than it felt like. I turn back to where she should be... and she isn't. I start calling for her. "Z! I need you to answer me right now." I've told her many times in the past that if she runs off, she needs to answer me when I call, so I can find her again. When I remember to remind her beforehand on a shopping trip, she's pretty good about responding. And usually I can hear her little 'teeheehee,' or the 'slapslapslap' of her little feet. But this time? Nothing. I drop down on my hands and knees to look under the racks in the section I had left her, and when I don't find her, I head to the front, to case the door. On my way I flag down an employee, who, when I tell her "I, uh, lost my kid," immediately springs into action.
She heads to the front door, telling the cashier to turn off the overhead music. Then she gets on her headset and starts telling everyone to look for my little one, giving them a description as I give it to her.
This whole time, I'm pretty sure my little nutjob just ran off and I couldn't find her because the store is so big, and there's so many displays and walls in the way, and she had a good head start, since normally I notice within 5 seconds that she's no longer within touching distance. 85% sure it's all good. 14% sure it's probably all good. And 1% oh crap.

She was found right away. Just as soon as the clerk finished giving the clothing description... "she's in the Boy's department." Ohthankyougod. I thank her, and head back to Boy's.  The employee back there who found her is a young guy, and I'm sad to say I barely spared him a glance. I barely remembered to even blurt out a "thank you" before bursting into tears and scooping up my greatest treasure. I hadn't even realized how scared I was, until it was all okay.
I had felt kind of stupid, getting employees involved, and I was afraid they'd contact outside the store to the rest of the mall or something, and then we'd just find her playing near one of the baskets of balls or something and have wasted everyone's time. But really, I should have flagged someone down and stopped trying to find her on my own about a minute sooner. After a quick scan and a few times calling for her, I should have gotten help. More people, spread out, blocking the exits. It doesn't matter that the odds of her being abducted by a stranger in a chance opportunity are so low. Roughly 115 per year in the US is still 115. I don't need my child to be one of them. So if being embarrassed about looking like a terrible parent is the price I have to pay, it's worth it.
Luckily it all turned out okay. As I was 99% confident that it would. She was a little terrified, since I guess she had started panicking and looking for me at some point before I got to her, and I gather that the employee was trying to keep her there to wait for me (but he didn't touch her, or even get within a foot of her. He just tried to block whichever direction she was trying to go. I don't know if he tried saying anything to her, but she has such a severe stranger anxiety, she doesn't even listen to anyone.) I watched her little body sag in relief when she saw me, though.

After clinging to each other for about a million years, we resumed shopping. We talked about how scared I was when I couldn't find her, and why I want her to stay near me when we're out in public. She spontaneously apologized several times throughout the evening for running away in the store and scaring me. And I think she twisted the part about when I remind her of why I want her where I can see her; she could get hurt, she could get lost, or someone could take her. She started saying that she was scared when she couldn't find me and the man wanted to take her. I think she's transposing the kidnapper scenario onto the clerk who had found her for me. I talked about how I had found an employee to help, and did she hear the talking about her on the radio? Did the man have a name tag to say that he worked at the store? Did he tell her that I was coming to find her? Etc. I'm hoping she doesn't cast him into the role of villain and create an imaginary nightmare scenario in her head. She tends to decide to be afraid of things, after seeing someone or seeing a show about someone being afraid of something. I know *I* still tear up when I think about it.

On the other hand, if it makes her stick to me like glue in public in the future, is it worth it?

1 comment:

  1. Oh you poor thing - you must have been terrified! But I don't think you should ever feel stupid about trying to protect your kids. I was similarly embarrassed when my daughter was sick just after Christmas - we ended up taking her to hospital even though it turned out to be just a virus. But like you said, "85% sure it's all good. 14% sure it's probably all good. And 1% oh crap". (and incidentally, the hospital staff were awesome and didn't seem to think we were idiots. Just as I'm sure the store employees didn't think you were, either.)


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