I lost my child again today. This time at the library. I would like to say it hardly ever happens, but unlike you, I am a bad parent. I have lost this one particular kid in a variety of places, including, but not limited to: the mall, an airplane, 4 Wal-Marts, my own house, a church and Disneyland. Now I know what you must be thinking, that I am not very observant or I don’t care about my child, or I am just distracted. The truth is simply, I have no idea how he gets away. Either the tranquilizer darts are not working or I don’t have that leash on tight enough. I am not sure. The point is this was not our first incident.
The most recent lost and found episode at the public library should not have happened. He was in the children’s book room trying to choose between “Little Duck Lost” and “Where is Thumbkin.” I was at the entrance of that very room in the parenting book section. I was making my way through the huge shelf of dusty books on how to be a better mother, trying to select one book that would help me regain my sanity. Somehow, as I had my head down, my four-year-old child walked right past me. Because, with the perfect eyesight that God has given him, he didn’t see me and thought I had wandered off.
One of the books I was looking through actually said that it is a good idea to give your children some freedom in decision making. It improves their self-esteem and let’s them know that you trust them to be responsible. I was reveling in the book’s good advice when I looked up to see that my little angel had disappeared. So, I logically did what any normal parent would do, I started screaming his name hysterically at the top of my lungs while running around the library still carrying two parenting books, waving them like flags to alert patrons that my child was missing.
As I was racing around screeching like a mental patient, he was also looking for me. My little sweetie has 20/20 vision but evidently cannot see the overweight middle-aged woman that feeds him and tucks him in every night, from four feet away. His auditory function, although also perfect, inhibits him from hearing that same woman crying and wailing for him at the volume of a low-flying 747 as she tromps through the library like a mother bear.
Since I am good at multi-tasking, as I was searching for him, I was also going over in my mind what I would tell the police when I called them as well as the picture that I was going to use of my son on milk cartons. Because after 10 seconds of looking I was certain he had been abducted. While I was planning a tri-state coordinated search in my head, complete with the use of tracking dogs, FBI surveillance and a helicopter, he was calmly walking up to a clerk and asking, “Have you seen a woman with brown hair and a black sweater? I can’t find my mom.”
Unlike my offspring, I was not calm and I, on the brink of panic, did not ask a clerk. I questioned what appeared to be a 3-year-old girl, with a Kool-Aid mustache in the middle of eating her own mucus, “Have you seen a little boy, with blonde hair?!” I screeched maniacally.
She, appeared to be totally unmoved and replied, “No, I don’t think so. Well, maybe. Ummm . . . did he have a train shirt on?”
“Did he have a dinosaur shirt on?”
“Did he have a race car shirt on?”
“Did he have a monster shirt on?”
“Then I don’t think I saw him.”
I ran off trying to find the next innocent bystander to scare, I mean ask, when I spotted my older son. “Have you seen your little brother?!”
“Are you sure?! You didn’t see him come by here?!”
“No. I didn’t see him mom.”
I could tell that older brother was as shook up as I was, because he paused for almost a mili-second and very nearly looked up at me to answer, before he continued with what he was doing. When he is in such emotional distress I know that it is no use to try to talk to him, so I raced on.
Apparently, you are not supposed to scream in a library. I could tell because people were acting awfully peculiar as I continued on my quest for my youngest. Patrons were gawking, shaking their heads and shushing me. Hello?! I have lost my baby! I really don’t care if you are trying to read Jane Eyre--I need to find him. Ok, that was a little far-fetched, no one reads the classics anymore, what I meant to write was, I don’t care if you are in the middle of your Spider-Man graphic novel or People magazine, my child has been stolen!
Just when I was sure all hope was lost, along came the librarian with my child in tow. Children who run away from their mothers get a sticker and sympathetic looks. Mother’s who have heart palpitations from children who run off get nothing but a warning from the library staff and maybe a visit from child-protective-services.
Once my sweetie-pie was back in my possession and I had assured any, and all, interested parties that he indeed was my son, I did not go look for any more books. I just took the ones I had up to the counter and checked them out, being sure to maintain a death-like grip on my child the whole time. When I got home, I thought I was going to collapse, but my nerves were all charged up again when I heard my little bundle of joy recount his version of the story to his father at dinner time.
“Mommy got lost at the library. I couldn’t find her anywhere. By the way, where is brother?”
Maybe Mommy needs to get lost next week, but somewhere a little more relaxing, like the mall or the spa . . . or Mexico. Just don’t send anyone looking for me.