Today, I almost lost my kid in the mall. It didn't happen. All's well that ends well. No harm, no foul, as they say.
But that's not what I felt like for the 45 mintes I couldn't find her or her friend.
Twelve years old -- that's how old they are. They are SO sure they are mature enough to do grown-up things. They begged today to be allowed to be at the mall, unsupervised, for two hours. I (and the other girl's mother) compromised and let them go to a movie alone, after which I was to meet them at a particular place and take them home.
All of that went as planned.
When I met them after the movie, they asked to go look at something at the GAP. Fine. Off to the GAP we went.
We were not in the store for five minutes when they said they'd rather go to Aeropostale. I absentmindedly said, "Oh, that's right next door. OK, go there, and I'll come find you in a few minutes." They left. I tried on something that looked far too young for me, ended up putting it back on the rack, and went to go find them. I had not been separated from them for more than 10 minutes.
They were not there. Neither were they in the teenager-ish store across the way, or in the other teenager-ish store on the other side of the GAP. I went and knocked on all dressing rooms in four different stores, making myself terribly popular with other customers and staff. My voice kept getting a little bit louder the more doors I knocked on, and my knocks on the doors themselves a little bit harder.
Suddenly, I was looking at every male as a potential molester. Where had HE taken the girls?!! Clearly, I have watched far too many crime shows. I was now mildly panicked -- enough, in fact, to ask a kiosk worker if she would mind calling security.
A few minutes later, security ("Mike") shows us and whips out his notebook. "Description?" I ask. (I've watched SO much CSI...) "Yes," he says. I describe each girl's height, body build, hair and eye color, and clothing, give him my cell phone number, and tell him where I'll wait. Off he goes in search of two kids who look pretty much like 80% of the other girls in the mall. I call the other girl's mother and let her know what's happening.
That's always a nice conversation: telling another parent that you've lost their kid. She was remarkably calm, considering that neither of us knew where our girls were and both of us had been apprehensive about allowing them this bit of freedom in the first place.
A good half hour passes, and I happen to look farther down the mall hallway than I had previously. I notice that Aeropostale is farther down the hall. Wait? Didn't I look for them in Aeropostale, next to the GAP? I look back at the store next to the GAP -- it's not Aeropostale, it's Abercrombie and Finch. Oh God, now I realize the girls are probably exactly where they said they'd be, and that I've alerted security to look for kids who aren't missing at all.
I pass Mike the security guard coming out of Aeropostale. "Not in there," he says to me with a shrug. "Did you check the dressing rooms?" I ask. "Yep," he says. My heart sinks, and he starts to walk away. Just then, my daughter walks out of the store.
"Mom, where have you been?" she asks. I turn to Mike and say, "You checked? Really? I told you she had long brown hair, glasses, jeans, and a turquoise striped polo-style shirt. Here she is." His eyes go wide and I simply say, "It's OK. I've got them. You can call off the search." He nods his head and off he goes.
I turned back to the girls, who are very apologetic that I've been so worried. Really, they didn't do anything wrong. I wait for them to buy their (of course) matching t-shirts, and I call the friend's mother to tell her I've found her kid and will have her home in 20.
As relieved as I was at finding them, I was more than a little annoyed that the security hadn't even recognized the kids based on the (very accurate) descriptions I gave them.
As I said, I almost lost my kid today.
But I didn't. *I* found her. And her friend. And that's all that matters.
- My interests include veganism and vegetarianism, health, ethics, politics and culture, media, and the environment. I have three kids; I teach college part-time, study piano and attempt to garden. I knit. I blog on just about anything, but many posts are related to my somewhat pathetic quest to eat better, be more mindful of the environment, and be a more responsible news consumer. Sometimes I write about parenting, but, like so many Mommy bloggers, my kids have recently told me not to. :) Thanks for reading.