I am feeling fired up at the moment. I don’t really enjoy snarky emails from people implying that I don’t do my job. (my actual paid job) This might seem odd coming from someone who’s who blog is based in incompetence, but I don’t mind owning my failures. Having others point them out, not so much fun. Of course then there the even better experience, people claiming you didn’t do things that you actually did do. And have the emails to prove that you did. Unfortunately, those kind of “ah ha” moments are less satisfying when done over email themselves. But whatever. I’m right, he was wrong. Neener neener neener. Maybe I haven’t really let go of the whole experience yet.
Now, if we want to talk about real, true failures, let me tell you about Saturday. Actually, most of Saturday was fun, soccer tournament type of fun. Where Baba tied it up with two minutes to go and then it was decided, correctly I might add, with penalty kicks. Ok, it really wasn’t all that fun. But that part seemed downright joyous compared to earlier that day. And it did involve me not doing my job.
One aspect of soccer tournaments is that there is a lot of time to kill between games. Especially if your team keeps winning and heads to the championship game, which for all you non-soccer families is the last game of the day. Being rather close to a large mall, one that lacked sales tax but did indeed have air conditioning, off we headed. We being Baba, Baby, Mac and Gestated. X-Man discovered that if he woke up with a 101 degree fever he got to hang out with Grandma all day. And that his fever would disappear before noon and he would have a delightful afternoon eating and being the center of attention.
So there I was, in the mall, with most of my children. I think it’s important to remember that X-Man wasn’t present. I had Cinco strapped to me and knew I didn’t have a toddler, so I let my guard down. I am certain you can see where this is going. We first went to a clothing store called “Justice.” For those of you who are unfamiliar with said establishment, it’s a clothing store for tweens. Imagine glitter and bangles and sparkles thrown in a blender with some material. Yup, that’s Justice for you. There’s a small corner with four t-shirts with various superheroes on them. That’s Brothers, the brother store to Justice. It does not hold the attention of young men the way the racks of Justice sing the song of my daughters’ people.
We then moved on. I held the Disney store out as a reward for good behavior as we moved along. I popped into a store. As I look back, I was very foolish to pick a store directly across from a koi pond. The girls followed me into the store; Mac was drawn to the koi. Of course he was. And then he realized that he had lost his mom and move on to find her. He did not move in the right direction.
Baba asked “where’s Mac” about three minutes our shopping. I knew that he was hiding in the clothing racks as he is want to do. Repeatedly. No number of threats can seem to dissuade him. Only, he wasn’t hiding in the clothing racks. And he wasn’t outside. Baby was convinced Mac had ventured back to the Disney store, since that was the only store he was interested in. So I backtracked. No dice.
At this point panic was fully set in. Among my rational thoughts was “oh sure, now that I’ve bragged that I’ve only forgotten one child once….”. Although to be fair, I didn’t forget Mac, I just lost him. I considered pulling aside a Disney employee and asking for security but that would require standing still and I wasn’t physically able to do that yet.
Heading back to the original store, about three minutes into the ordeal….or possibly four hours, I’m unclear on that aspect, I saw a little red headed boy, wearing jean shorts and a red shirt about to turn a corner and disappear out of sight. I started moving as quickly as I could. I did still have Cinco still strapped to me. She decided to express her concern for her brother by spitting up, not over me, but rather up and into my shirt. There was pooling of vomit where nothing should pool. And I didn’t even notice. Well, obviously I did as I am speaking of it now but it took some time. I was cursing my cute shoes that I had been complimented on at the previous soccer game. They were cute. They were not designed to run after small persons.
I rushed passed the original store, where Baby and Baba were waiting. I had ordered them not to move, because as I had hurried off to the Disney store I was convinced that Mac would wander out of the dressing rooms or burst out of a clothing rack after all. But I knew I had seen my little boy wander away, I made eye contact with the girls and told them “don’t you move” and went after Mac. It flashed across my mind that it could be the last time I ever saw my little boy as I caught sight of the CODE ADAM sticker in the window. I contemplated kicking off my cute shoes when a teenage girl yelled “hey you looked panicked are you missing a little boy?” I responded “red hair and a Spiderman shirt?” “Yeah, he went that way with a lady from Build a Bear.” One of the boys in her group said ‘They went this way” As I hurried along, I realized he was walking with me and pointed out the lady with Mac.
Mac looked at me with a face I knew well. The “I’m trying to be brave and not cry but I think I’m in trouble and I’m pretty upset” face. I know that I stumbled through some thanks, I don’t remember what I said to the kid, I think he took off pretty fast. The Build a Bear lady did everything right. She tried to coax him into her store, but Mac did everything right too and didn’t stay with a stranger. So she walked beside him, talking to him but keeping a slight distance between them. I don’t know what Mac told her, he told me that he cried a little bit. I did too, but I didn’t tell him that.
I suppose I should have lectured him, or yelled at him or something. But I didn’t. We looked at each other and had an understanding. He held my hand for the rest of the day. And he held my hand the next day when we were out and about. I told him he was right not to go with an adult he didn’t want to. And that if he should look for a mom if he were ever lost again. I got that tip from the book The Gift of Fear.
I would have thought that our reunion would have been more huggy kissy than it was. It was just quiet. I think it was due to the intensity of the feelings. And, unfortunately, I wasn’t able to properly thank the people who cared enough to take time to help Mac and I find each other.