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