Mommy Mistakes | Have you ever lost your child?

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Yesterday I walked right into a parenting mistake I’ll never ever make again.

The Scene

We’re walking through Best Buy, during what appears to be the busiest evening of the year thus far (aside from Black Friday), our three kids excited by all of the tech toys within their reach. Mattison grabs a Wii remote, Kaydee jumps all over the pile of XBox games, Emma runs straight to the Pillow Pets on the end cap. It’s chaos. Fifteen minutes into our shopping adventure we realize this is just too much to deal with being outnumbered by kids that are 1) all capable of walking/running and 2) easily distracted.

As we’re heading towards the front door we all get a bit distracted by the iPad display. Can you blame us? They’re iPads for crying out loud. With Jon, Matti and Emma at one iPad and Kaydence and I at another we’re checking everything out. I would say about a minute or two passes before I look down, look left, look right, then behind me and Emma is nowhere to be found.

The Search

The panic sets in.

Jon and the kids go towards the middle of the store while I grab an employee to alert them. Thinking back, my description was awful … a little person in a light purple coat. That could have been a dozen kids in the store.  I can just picture a blue shirted guy carrying armfuls of kids in light purple coats asking which one was mine.

The next thought was that Emma could so easily walk out the front door into traffic. I darted towards the front door thinking surely security wouldn’t let her out.

The Recovery

To my surprise, Emma was right there at a checkout lane playing with cups on an end cap with a middle aged gentleman smiling at her. Sure, she’s cute but clearly she had no parent with her. Was it beyond his line of thinking to alert a cashier to an obviously unsupervised toddler? Never the less, I suppose she wasn’t his responsibility, she was MINE and I lost her.

Granted it she was only missing for a minute, it was the most horrifying minute of my life that took hours to wash away the feeling. I feel utterly stupid for taking my eyes off her even for a minute. She could have been kidnapped, hit by a car, climbed into a display and lost for who knows how long. The possibilities are terrifying and all preventable had I not been so careless.

Thinking back to what happened, I don’t feel so judgmental about the moms I see with their kids on a leash. It’s a precaution for those little moments of parental carelessness.

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  1. says

    (((((HUGS))))) I am glad the story had a happy ending!! Kids can be so fast at that age too its really hard. As a mom the guilt for you is probably tremendous but don’t beat yourself up, it will never happen again, and you took all the steps. The problem lies in the fact that the cashier apparently didn’t get the memo that there was a missing girl in the store!

  2. says


    I have been there — and that’s why my daughter wears a Monkey on her Back now . . . a “cute” leash. At three, there are too many distractions and it’s too easy for her to wander. I don’t care if people think poorly of me for having her attached via a monkey’s tail (the actual leash). I’m more worried about keeping my daughter with me.

    • chantal says

      I would love to know where you got yours.. I used to look at them and be like why on earth would any parent do that.. BUT NOW that im a parent of a 2 year old myself.. I KNOW WHY.

  3. says

    I had taken my two toddlers to the botanical gardens over the summer. My son fell down, and while I bent to kiss his boo boo, my daughter disappeared. EVERY horrible possible scenario ran through my head. It took me nearly ten minutes to find her, and I was just SICK. She was in the “grocery store” that they have, but because she was so short, I had missed her when I ran in looking.

  4. says

    I don’t have kids but did loose a 6 year old cousin at Disney World so can understand the panic that sets in. It was just her and I on this trip and we were watching the show at the castle. She was right at my side the entire time. When the show ended I looked and she was gone. I’m yelling her name with eyes darting left and right and the only thing I could think was “they need to shut the park down”. Once the crowd cleared enough to see she’s slowly skipping back to me. When the show ended they set off balloons and being 6 decided she wanted to catch one and took off after them.

  5. says

    It is so scary. 2 Christmas’s ago we were shopping with our son in Kmart. I looked right at the Xbox 360’s and though hubby had our sons hand. My heart dropped as he was lost. I heard him screaming. He climbed under a rack. It was terrifying so I completely understand. Hugs.

  6. Mari says

    Yes, this has happened to me! Years ago I was watching my niece and she wandered off towards the video games. I was so terrified, I must have looked like a lunatic tearing through the store. Thankfuly I found her a minute later, happily playing video games. I was a lesson learned.

  7. Tiffany says

    I try not to go too many places with my boys. They are wanderers and there’s been more than one time that I’ve lost them. There’s nothing like that gut wrenching feeling that makes your stomach drop. It’s all I can do not to start bawling too.

  8. says

    I think,as parents-especially mothers,we expect ourselves to be perfect. I have never lost my little one but I have had the older boys run off.Even if they are out of sight for a second.,we assume the worst.I remember being little and being able to go look at toys or whatever with no worries. These days, I don’t even let my own kids play outside unless an adult is with them.I know how scared we can get over our children but the fact that you panic means you are aware of the dangers and are trying to avoid them. It is the parents who allow their children to roam alone that is disturbing-not being aware is way worse then a momentary slip. Just you getting on here and admitting how you feel tells how great of a mother you must be ,so don’t let it get you down.You learned a great lesson without something horrible happening.

    • says

      I agree completely!

      And I’ve been lucky I haven’t had this happen in a store but I always make my boys ride in or hold onto the cart just for that reason. I have however lost Warren in the house (he was hiding under Lucian’s bed playing a game of hide and seek I didn’t know about.) That was so scary. I thought maybe he had gotten outside!

  9. says

    I can imagine how scary this must have been for you. My mother once lost my four year old daughter at the carnival. She looked and looked for her and off this little ride came a voice “Hi Grandma” well she had found a few friends from preschool and had somehow got on the ride with them. OH MY after nearly 20 years my mother has still vivid memories of being frightened looking for her granddaughter and wondering how to tell me she lost her

  10. kathleen says

    I stopped to look at a scarf in Target for two seconds and my 2 year old was GONE. I was very panicked and alerted the nearest employee and he was found in about 3 or 4 minutes in the toy section. Now I try and avoid shopping with him and grocery shop when someone is available to watch him. He’s just too fast

  11. Sophie S says

    You know, we had something like this happen when the twins were little and it was a lot scarier thought it turned out fine. You can never take your eyes off of them. In our case, I had the two of them running opposite ways and then they started ducking under those clothes rounders so I couldn’t see them. I found someone who worked there right away to alert and they put people at all exits. Just five minutes later we found the one twin with a lollipop holding the hands of a set of teen girls that were escorting her out of the store and into the mall– clear on the other side and past 6 employees all looking for her– to help her find her mommy.

    They swore up and down that they were not up to anything, but it was terrifying to think that anything could have happened. Security even checked their security tapes to make sure that nothing did happen and that all she did was walk with them.

  12. says

    I’m glad it all turned out okay in the end. Who has had a moment of “Oh my where’s….?” I think every honest parent has been here. It is impossible to raise children into independant people without giving them some room and no one can watch multiple children 24 7, nor should they. Kids need to grow on their own too. But a GPS locator and a body guard would be nice!

  13. Eileen says

    I have one daughter who always loved to crawl up into the middle of the circular racks and stand on the rack…this hiding her feet. TALK about PANIC!!. No matter what we did she would find a way to those racks. thank GOD she is 18 now and we made it through that scary stuff…but she STILL seems to gravitate to the racks…except NOW she doesnt go so easily without us…NOW she knows she needs Dad’s wallet or the use of a credit card first ;)

    six kids and have had this happen more than I care to mention…even when you know it happens the little stinkers can be gone in a flash. No one can be on watch 24/7 365. so it does happen. I have seen lil ones lost in stores, etc. and I do try to talk to them and find help and even if they throw a fit and are scared. One of those things you just cant NOT involve yourself with.

    I got lost in a huge zoo once when little. I was terrified and still remember every moment. NINE kids…my poor mom!

  14. says

    That is a terrifying experience. I have the harnesses for my kids. With twin toddler boys, there is no way I can keep up with them if I have to venture out on my own with them. I am glad it turned out that she was unharmed.

  15. says

    Losing Emma just for a few minutes must have been frightening. When my daughter Koren was 4 years old I lost her for 10 minutes at the Los Angeles Zoo. I’m a jogger, and my heart never raced like it did then. Glad you found her.

  16. Tian K. says

    Thank God i never lost my child, and i hope it’ll never happen to anyone, :)