You could have bought me for a penny. Here I am writing parenting columns and I lose my child in the store. How embarrassing. So embarrassing, I want to slink beneath the big, discounted barbecue pit that lined the aisle near to where we got separated. No time for that though. To make matters worse, from a distance (think mega store), I see one of my church members flagging me from the baby section. "Oh goodness, does she know?" I think.
Yep, she knows. "Are you looking for your son?" she asks excitedly and a little louder than I like. While giving her a passing hug I respond, "Yeah, did you see him?" "Yes, he’s near the fitting rooms with the attendant," she says while pointing to a far rear corner of the store. I pick up my pace, trying to get to my baby boy before the dreaded intercom blast. Dang it; I didn’t make it before hearing: " Keisha Daniels, Keisha Daniels, please come to the fitting room. Keisha Daniels, Keisha Daniels, please come to the fitting room." "Thank God, she mispronounced my name," I think. And, she was nice enough not to mention that they had found my lost child. Still, "somebody’s gonna get it" I mutter, while approaching the fitting station. But, then I look down and see the face of a very scared little boy who has tears streaming from his chubby cheeks. In that moment, I accepted full responsibility for getting so absorbed in selecting which chocolate to buy (dark or milk, with or without almonds) that I lose sight of my son who slips off to find the toy section. So, instead of scolding, I stoop and give him a big, apologetic hug. And, I realize that just because I write about ‘adventures in parenting’ doesn’t mean I’m flawless — far from it. It does mean that I have the opportunity to share these experiences as a lesson to myself and others about just how vigilant we must remain in our roles as parents. The case of Little Boy Gets Lost in Big Store serves as a gentle reminder of just how quickly things can change and how fast kids can scuttle, especially when they’re looking for the toy aisle.
Thankfully, my story has a safe ending. Yet, I can’t help but think of an 11-year-old Jaycee Lee Dugard being abducted at her bus stop all those years ago, even as her father watched from only yards away. What a nightmare! Yes, things can happen quickly and sometimes even when our eyes are wide open, which kind of has me rethinking that whole ‘putting the kid on a leash’ idea. Or even heading to the shooting range.