I lost my kid in Target while school shopping.
She’s so independent. She wanted to look in the toy section with her brother, I zipped down to the school supply section to get the ‘boring’ stuff. (We’ve done this routine before in many other stores, my kids know how to find me, and we check in with each other regularly. They have always felt confident checking out stores on their own, and they know to ask a store clerk if they need anything.)
Anyhoo–big brother was with little sis, but they got separated. And about the time I felt that little tug in my tummy like “something isn’t right here” Eli & I were heading to the toy section where he last saw her. I had the thought to go up front and page her, and I barely finished having that thought when I heard over the intercom: “Will Anja’s party please come to the Customer Service counter.” I looked at Eli and said “That’s us!”
I could feel the clerks relief about finding mom, but perhaps a little judgement too: “How do you lose your kid in a store?!”
It’s not that hard actually.
Messy mom moment # 1,968,472.
I hugged her and soothed her and let her know everything is alright. My face was flushed with a little embarrassment, but I knew it was critical that I not blame her for getting lost, or try to make her feel responsible for my embarrassment, nor was I going to apologize effusively to some stranger about how my kids and I roll in a store. We’ve been doing this routine since they were younger kids at the Puget Consumers Co-Op in Seattle, they loved getting groceries for me and exploring tasters while I shopped in a safe progressive store, it’s worked for us in building independence.
Today wasn’t really different, it was just a little scarier.
I acknowledged that she did the right thing to ask a clerk for help and held her as long as she needed to be held. I kept calm and didn’t go into a huge “I effed-up and now I gotta save face.” No one needed punishment, judgement, or criticism – not me, not her, not her brother.
There’s no need to get into major freak out about “what could have happened” or “what has happened to other kids!” that’s just coming from a ‘little voice’ fear place, and doesn’t help any of us tune into our own instincts and calm presence of what to do in the moment.
I acknowledged that my intuition is still working, that I felt an internal nudge when it went a little south of what our original plan was, and now we have a new plan.
Some trauma, without drama = less mess.