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I have been thinking about sharing this story with the kos community for the past few days.  I have mostly written diaries about the political race but this incident in a department store really scared me so much I have to share it.

My daughter went missing for about 5 minutes in a department store and I went totally beserk!!

read rest of story below...

My husband and I had an appointment for my daughter's eye exam in a Sears department store. We got there early and was totally taken aback by the sales in the men's department so we stopped to buy some shorts and to check out the other department close by,

We are about to close on our brand new home and have been looking at large household items for the last few weeks.

Anyway our daughter, who is 8 was weaving in and out of the displays. I always tell her to never go into aisles by herself and to always make sure she can see us and we her.

The time was getting close for our appointment so we started to walk over to the eye center after visiting a friend in the lady's department. We stopped to look at some more men's wear on our way over there and I saw an even better deal for men's shorts and decided to exchange the original pairs for the new deal.

My husband told me at this time that he was going to go to the bathroom.  He left us and wondered off.  I continued walking towards the eye center with my daughter.  Then she disappeared.

At first I did not realize she was gone. I was standing by the cash register trying to exchange the shorts for the better priced pair when I realized she was no where near me.

I called her name softly. No answer.
I walked over to the eye center calling her name softly. No answer.
I looked and then walked over to the fitting rooms, my voice rising. No answer.
I started looking behind the clothing racks by this time yelling at the top of my voice.  Still no answer.

Then there was total blackness.  My world went black and starting falling upwards towards me really fast and the silence was deafening.

I stood in the center of the men's department and yelled her name so loudly I alerted the other departments nearby and people started to gather.

I looked towards the eye center and noticed an exit.  I ran towards it yelling her name as I ran.  An employer told me to go the other way that he had the door and outside covered.
I ran back inside to starring bystanders and employees with walkie talkies getting ready to call in the code to security.

The silence was deafening and my world was imploding fast as I screamed, screeched and cried my daughter's name.  NO ANSWER.  Silence.

I started runnning remembering my husband's trek to the bathroom. As I ran I asked a lady if she had seen a little girl (giving her description).  The lady said she had seen her on the other side of the store with a man.  

My world imploded and blackness engulfed.

Running on air I rounded the corner to see my husband standing outside the bathroom door as I yelled my daughter's name.  He looked at me completely perplexed as she came out of the bathroom oblivious to all the commotion I had created outside.

I grabbed her and held on for dear life as my world exploded in light.  She explained that she had run off with her dad to the bathroom and she thought I had heard her say where she was going.  I had not.

After walking back to the eye store, my husband slowing following in embarrassed strides, I thanked everyone who had helped explaining what had happened.

My husband was embarrassed but I was/am not.  If it happened again the same way I would do the same thing.  Many kids get taken from malls and I learned from reading and watching these incidents that one has to be proactive.  No one can say I was not proactive.  I was the mother of proactive behavior in this case and I am not embarassed.

Since then I hold my daughter a little closer everyday, I hug her a little tighter and I cuddle her more than ever.  I stroke her face and look into it as she lays asleep in bed and I give thanks that the incident had not gone in the other direction.

My husband did not help the situation when he told me, as we were leaving the Sears store that same evening that it was a Sears store that caused the famous show America's Most Wanted to be created.  The creator of that show's son was taken from a Sears store and was found dead and abused much later.  

From start to finish this incident only covered about 5 minutes total but it felt like hours.  I have used this incident to speak further to my daughter about being safe and how to conduct herself in stores and what to do if she ever got lost or in a bad situation.

Once again I am not embarrassed and am happy to be the mother of proactive behavior.  Better safe than sorry.

(excuse spelling errors in a hurry)

Originally posted to cherbear on Fri Apr 25, 2008 at 12:33 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Wow (14+ / 0-)

    I really felt it when you were talking about your panic. Just Wow.

  •  I've had that happen (8+ / 0-)

    it's as scary as it gets.  Glad you have her back.

    "People should not be afraid of their government; governments should be afraid of their people." --V

    by MikeTheLiberal on Fri Apr 25, 2008 at 12:37:23 PM PDT

  •  I lost mine when she was about 4.... (13+ / 0-)

    but luckily, I had read over and over to her "Ernie Gets Lost".  In the book, Ernie gets lost in a large department store, and finds a cashier.  Well, lo and behold, that's where I found her.....sitting on the counter next to the cashier.  But I know how just a few minutes can feel like an eternity.

  •  It's funny, since the birth of my daughter two (7+ / 0-)

    years ago I find my self very emotional (often fearful) about things in the news (and everyday life) that never used to phase me.  There's just something about parenthood that leaves you vulnerable.  I'm glad it was a false alarm.

    "Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come." Victor Hugo

    by lordcopper on Fri Apr 25, 2008 at 12:41:29 PM PDT

  •  Yikes (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gooderservice, moose67, haruki, bfitzinAR

    I have two little daughters.

    I have a bad memory for cerain details.  I could ride around with someone all day and not be able to tell you what color their car is the minute we walk into a store.  Same with clothes.  Unless I make a conscious effort to look and say, 'blue shirt, striped skirt, sandals,' I wouldn't be able to tell someone what my daughter was wearing if she got away from me.  So, every time I have them in public I do this thing where I repeat in my head over and over what each one of them is wearing until I know I have it.

    I also taught my oldest daughter what our full names are as soon as she was able to remember.  So she can tell a security person or whoever what her mom and dad's names are.  

  •  All of us who (10+ / 0-)

    are parents can relate. It is like your mind goes on the fritz...and the stress takes years off your lifespan in a matter of minutes.
    I worried around lakes and pools also when my kids were little. You totally understand how mommys in the animal kingdom are not to be messed with when they have their offspring around.

    •  SO true! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gooderservice, bfitzinAR

      My girl walked out of site with her aunt once in a mall-25 years ago. I remember saying to my mom"Every pervert in the WORLD hangs out at malls" almost hysterical.

    •  my sister in law lived in inner city Baltimore (0+ / 0-)

      when her oldest child was born. She'd just come home from the hospital with her newborn a few days before and she was coming down the stairs when some guy broke into their front door. She was alone in the house with her baby, but instinct kicked in. Some kind of gutteral growl came out of her mouth, her hands came up in front of her and she charged at the guy! He turned and ran like the dickens.

  •  If your daughter was a white teenager (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    InsultComicDog, ratmach

    or young 20-something it would have been all over Fox and CNN!

    It turns out that Bush IS a uniter... he united the good half of the country virulently against him.

    by fizziks on Fri Apr 25, 2008 at 12:42:23 PM PDT

  •  You would have hated being my Mom (5+ / 0-)

    when I was a toddler. I made a career out of disappearing.

    John McCain - Like W. Only Older.

    by InsultComicDog on Fri Apr 25, 2008 at 12:42:26 PM PDT

  •  I'm sorry for your experience (12+ / 0-)

    I have little kids and I understand that fear of losing them.

    But your line, "Many kids get taken from malls and I learned from reading and watching these incidents that one has to be proactive", I'm pretty sure is not accurate.  I know that the media blows these things up so that is seems like its happening all of the time but I think - in real life - there are actually a very very small number of kids taken by strangers....% wise, probably not any higher than when we were growing up.

    its all part of our fear culture, I fear.

  •  I know exactly how you felt (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gooderservice, bfitzinAR

    and I am happy the ending was a good one. I lost mine in a movie theater for about 10 minutes. I was a wreak. I have had nightmares about losing my daughter.

  •  Used to happen to me all the time when (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lgmcp, gooderservice

    I was a kid, the stores used to do "lost children alerts" over the intercom.

    "If you have a child named Robert he is at the service counter"

  •  Why is it ALWAYS Sears..... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gooderservice, bfitzinAR

    Almost that same thing happened to me! I was so scared. I called my son's name and, I too, got no answer. I was moving quickly through the section I was in when I saw some people looking ou the window. As I looked out, I saw two adults laughing and pointing. I looked to see what they were laughing about.... there was my son running around the parking lot in front of Sears. I busted out of the emergency door and ran to the street to grab my son and looked the the 2 "adults' with disgust at watching a child (clearly without an adult) wonder around in the street in front of Sears! Ugh! I was so mad, but happy just to have found my son. I glad your story had a happy ending too.

  •  My heart started racing just reading your... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:


    I have a 2-year old boy, my only child, and imagining that situation happening to us absolutely terrifies me.

    I know the mother is "supposed" to be the overprotective one, but in our case, I'm the one who gets nervous about any form of danger to him.

    I know I have to get over it--he's starting daycare next week and I'm a nervous nellie--but it's not easy...

  •  I had a couple of instances like your's (6+ / 0-)

    My two-year-old had a tendency run off in stores.

    Once, while we were shopping for his mother for Mother's Day he split while I was writing the check in a department store. Boom, he was gone. I enlisted clerks to help me search.

    One sales lady even got on the PA system: "Would Aaron please report to the Misses Section." Yeah, right!

    We finally caught him running between the clothes racks.

    I got back him finally at the grocery store sometime later. He took off, and purposely avoided him and he grew increasingly panicked. Then I let him see me at the end of an aisle, he at the other. He came running to me with tears in his eyes, and stuck to me like glue after that, the little putz:-)

  •  I know that panicked feeling (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bfitzinAR, oceanrain

    as the mother of a daughter.

    I also have worked in clinical settings with teenagers who sexually molest children. ( work with victims now, exclusively).

    I totally understand your fear.  Glad it was a false alarm, but you did the right thing; don't get embarassed, make an immediate ruckus; time is precious in these moments. You done good. Everybody; trust your gut!

    Protective parents are the best prevention.

    Glad she's safe with you.  Then there's the whole boyfriend thing, and safe dating ahead!  It's hard raising a daughter in this culture, but then so many things are unnecessarily hard with the way things are.

    McCain was jawing about "reducing government" which really means "reduce education, services to children, the disabled, mental health care, and programs that help keep kids safe in the community".

  •  I've been there (4+ / 0-)

    My son once ran onto an elevator in my husband's former office building, THINKING we were right behind him. I yelled for him, and saw his face turn white as the door closed. I think he was bout 2.

    I literally freaked out. A co worker of my husband's called security and they had the building locked down within minutes (it was a state office building that uses Code Adam), but we were on the 6th floor and the three floors below us were all under heavy construction.
    I got on the elevator and hit every floor on the way to the main while my husband got on another elevator and headed straight down. By the time I got to the main, my husband had him. When he got to the main floor, our son was terrified but in the arms of the woman running the information desk.

    I'm so glad everything ended well. Its a credit to security personnel and Code Adam.

    "Constantly choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil." ~ Jerry Garcia

    by mytribe on Fri Apr 25, 2008 at 12:53:04 PM PDT

  •  drama queen (0+ / 0-)

    Criminy.  People have gone through situations with children that were actually serious.  

    Plus, you can describe hysteria as being "proactive" as you like, or you can also call it hysteria.  

    Teaching caution is one thing; teaching fear and hysteria is something else.  

    •  You haven't been there, have you? n/t (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Catte Nappe, gooderservice
    •  Shame on you... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mr SeeMore

      If you have kids someday, maybe you'll understand the panic when they're gone in the blink of an eye.  

      Don't you dare judge this woman for being alarmed about her child- what would you prefer for her to do?  Meekly mouse around the store looking for her daughter alone?  Not care where her child was?  How, exactly, would YOU handle this if you were the parent, since you apparently have all the answers?  


      •  I have a 12 year old (0+ / 0-)

        who had lung cancer when she was 3, and again when she was 5.  

        She's had over 115 hospitalizations.  I had to lay her on an operating table, x2, where I didn't even know if she would come back out.  

        You have no freaking clue what you are talking about.  

        •  I guess that gives you the right to be a jerk and (0+ / 0-)

          judge other peoples reaction to having their child go missing.

          "We are a Plutocracy, we ought to face it. We need, desperately, to find new ways to hear independent voices & points of view" Ramsey Clark US AG

          by Mr SeeMore on Fri Apr 25, 2008 at 02:30:58 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  drama (0+ / 0-)

            "Then there was total blackness.  My world went black and starting falling upwards towards me really fast and the silence was deafening."

            Because she lost sight of her kid in a Sears for a few minutes?  

            I initially read this diary thinking something serious had happened.  Then I saw it was a hysterical mom complaining about nothing and yet bragging about her overreaction.  

            Yeah, not sympathetic.

        •  You still didn't answer the question (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Obviously you still feel the right to judge other people's parenting skills.  Perhaps your experience leads you to believe that she would not be so "dramatic" if she knew what kind of fear you must have faced yourself.  In that frame, you find her expression of her fear and anxiety unreasonable, since nothing actually happened to the child, as it did to your own daughter.  I would not wish your personal experience, nor the one of the OP on anyone.  I'd love for all kids to be able to grow up unscathed.  We know that is simply not the case, and we all live in fear of something truly terrible happening to our kids.  Just try to have a little - teeny tiny- bit of sympathy for a mom who had that moment of true panic, when every abduction story you've ever heard floods your brain, and your flight or fight goes on autopilot.  

          And then maybe I'll "get a clue" as you so succinctly suggest.  

          •  it's not working (0+ / 0-)

            not only do I not have much sympathy, I actually found the drama of it vaguely offensive.  

            I'm not actually sure why.  My daughter's experience was pretty extreme, but we saw worse. The cruelty of some of these diseases is unbelievable.  People have no actual idea what families go through. I understand that my family was lucky.  

            Some people feed off this kind of dramatization.  It can become a pretty unhealthy dynamic. This story is essentially manipulative.  

            The best I can offer is that I am also overprotective of my daughter.  I would and have reacted viscerally if something happens; or I even worry about something happening, such as when she disappeared over a slope skiing a bit too fast (in my opinion, not hers).  

            But I understand that my concerns need to be throttled back, and it's a constant effort for me not to teach her to fear the world.  I want her to be bold, not fearful.  And I particularly don't want her to be fearful so I can pat myself on the back for being "proactive".  

            •  You assume a lot (0+ / 0-)

              About the OP... that she "feeds off this kind of dramatization", that she is "manipulative"- your words.  I don't know who she is, but I try to make it a policy not to assume the worst about people.  Assuming the worst is easy, making room for other possibilities for behavior is harder- one has to control the knee-jerk reaction in order to do that.  I try to do that, but I don't always succeed- see my first response to you.  I hope that my second response to you showed that I could be open to what you had experienced, and how that could color your views.    

              At the same time, I also don't have time for drama queens/kings either... the decision to apply that label would normally come after a certain amount of experience with that person.  

              Maybe you know things about the OP that I don't- that is a possibility.  I chose to see this diary as an honest description of how she felt, and as a reminder to the rest of us that things happen in the blink of an eye.  Maybe I chose to see it in a naive way, in your view, but I'm sticking to it.

              I don't want to raise my daughters to be fearful either.  They are now 14 and 16, and are pretty bold, smart girls who can think for themselves, IMO.  I'm sure the OP doesn't want to raise her daughter to be fearful either, just like you want your girl to be bold.  Let's leave room for that possibility too.  


  •  Been there, mine was 5. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gooderservice, bfitzinAR

    there are no words to decribe that horrible feeling. Mine is twenty three now, but I remember the scene clearly. It was one of those big electronics superstores, but felt like a house of horrors with the sounds and multiple TV screens. I found him after about two minutes. He knew he was lost and the look on his face before he caught sight of me, will haunt me always. Terror and betrayal, cowering against a rack.. I STILL apologize to him when I recall the incident!

  •  When my children were very young (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe, gooderservice

    the older - he was 3 at the time - wandered off in the mall.  I'd gone to the mall with a friend and my boys.  The younger was in a backpack on my back, and I thought the older was with my friend as we were looking at books.  When she came over to see if I was ready to leave I discovered Lang wasn't with her.  He wasn't in the bookstore at all.  Freak out time.  The store personnel helped look through the store, we checked the area in front of the store, then they called mall security.  I left the baby with my friend at the bookstore and started a systematic search of the neighboring stores.  Fortunately (there were 117 stores in that mall), security came and got me by the time I'd covered the 3rd store.  I'd gone to the right out of the bookstore, Lang'd gone to the left.  He'd been "running the elevator" in the only 2 story building in that mall - with a store security person standing by, figuring a panic-stricken mother would be along soon.

    There's nothing in the world as bad as missing a kid - except losing one permanently (my nephew was killed by a drunk driver at 17).  I pity my sister with all my heart and hope I never know her pain first hand, even though my kids are now in their 30s.  I remember cherbear's very well 34 years later.

  •  know how it feels (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gooderservice, bfitzinAR

    happened to me in an REI store when my daughter hid inside a rack of clothes. Maybe 5 minutes but seemed like forever and she was not answering so I thought the worst...

    Doesn't make things better but you are not alone.

    We have a natural right to make use of our pens as of our tongue, at our peril, risk and hazard. Voltaire, Dictionnaire Philosophique, 1764

    by MMW on Fri Apr 25, 2008 at 01:02:44 PM PDT

  •  An appropriate quote from Elizabeth Stone (4+ / 0-)

    Making the decision to have a child is momentous.  It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.  ~Elizabeth Stone

  •  lost my son at a theme park! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TealVeal, gooderservice, bfitzinAR

    That was the scariest few minutes of my life. It's so easy, just take your eyes of them for a minute and they can disappear. The other people I was with looked for him while I ran to the security office. When I got there, he was already there playing with toys with about 3 other kids. He wasn't worried, until he saw the look on my face, then he got scared and started to cry.

    The good thing about a theme park is that they have people whose job it is to walk around looking for unattached kids. They were very efficient, and I was very thankful.

    "Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness." Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. 4-3-68

    by whitewidow on Fri Apr 25, 2008 at 01:05:53 PM PDT

  •  I did this once (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe, gooderservice

    I went home from school with a friend when I was in second grade, and hadn't told my mom. I told my friend's mom that there was no need for a call home. She shouldn't have taken a seven year old's word for it. Anyway, two hours later, as it was getting dark, my father found me. He'd come home from work early to look for me. My mom couldn't because we only had one car and my sister was at home. Anyway, my dad yelled at me so loudly he almost broke his car windows. But that happened once in awhile, so my attitude was here we go again. When we got in the house and I saw that my mom was crying, I finally got it. It was three weeks before Christmas, and I was absolutely convinced that I was going to get stiffed by Santa. It was horrific, worst thing I ever did when I was a kid.

    And now I'm 46, and my wife always knows when I'll be home. I always check in, and I do it because I remember the day I made mom cry.

    The Bush Family: 0 for 4 in Wisconsin

    by Korkenzieher on Fri Apr 25, 2008 at 01:06:51 PM PDT

  •  Kids with autism wander away very frequently (0+ / 0-)

    It's a big issue in our community so I understand your fears very, very well. You did the right thing but next time (which I hope never happens) don't hesistate to get security (or police if you're at home or in public) involved before you start looking broadly. They are professionals and generally have training.  Seconds can matter.

    "Those dunes are to the Midwest what the Grand Canyon is to Arizona and the Yosemite is to California." - Carl Sandburg

    by Critical Dune on Fri Apr 25, 2008 at 01:06:55 PM PDT

  •  I simply could not cope with the anxiety of (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    being a parent.  It's best for everyone that I stick at a cat.  ;)  

    Glad to hear all's well that ends well.

  •  Don't take this the wrong way... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Treg, lgmcp, whitewidow

    But your comment that "many kids get taken from malls" is simply not true. Well, not on a per capita basis, anyway. The fact then when it DOES happen, it's all over the news should tell you something. I'm not aware of the numbers just concerning malls, but on average, there are only about 100 "stereotypical" abductions (as the Justice Dept. calls them) per year in the U.S. -- involving "a stranger who kidnaps a child with the intent of holding him/her for ransom, keeping him, or killing him." That's about 1 in a million chance.

    Obviously ANY number of abductions is too many. But the point I'm trying to make is, it's in the self-interest of the media and shows like America's Most Wanted to keep us in fear 24/7.

    I completely understand what you felt when you couldn't find your daughter; I had that happen with one of my kids not too long ago. But just be aware that the vast, vast majority of "disappearances", the kind we see on milk cartons, have nothing to do with "stranger abduction."

    Be alert, be vigilant.... but please don't let them make you afraid of the whole world.... the slimebag George W. Bush is doing enough of that already.

    "Any dictator would admire the uniformity and obedience of the U.S. media." -- Noam Chomsky

    by ratmach on Fri Apr 25, 2008 at 01:14:00 PM PDT

  •  I run across lost kids (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe, gooderservice

    all the time, theme parks, stores, found a 3 yr old at a Renaissance Festival in the woods... It's amazing how often the parents show up screaming blue murder at the kid.  Being a parent myself, I know they are really yelling at themselves...but how 'bout not terrifying an already frightened kid by ranting and raving 'I told you never to walk away!'

    Stores seem designed to prevent 'line of sight' vision esp. when somebody is shorter than a clothes rack.  Try to keep your kids from playing hide and seek in the racks...they are actually quite tippy and if unbalanced will fall over. Teach them to look for another mother with kids in tow if they realize they are away from you...amazing how often they won't realize it!  

    "No, it's all right," said the prospective diner. "The slugs have formed a defensive ring." -- Moving Pictures. Terry Pratchett.

    by wonderful world on Fri Apr 25, 2008 at 01:22:14 PM PDT

  •  I used to run off when I was a kid (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I was inordinately fascinated by some things and would just stop and stare while my parents kept walking. Look up and no parents. Fortunately I didn't get put on a leash.  

    My mom told me, if you get separated, stay still and I will find you...don't move around.

    I lost my wife in a Home Depot once and we were both walking around the store trying to find each other. Only one of us had a cell phone, and since we were both moving, it took us close to two hours to find each other.

    "All it takes is one person to stand up and say 'f--k this.'"--Henry Rollins

    by ekthesy on Fri Apr 25, 2008 at 01:23:22 PM PDT

  •  My son... (0+ / 0-)

    who is 43 this December, is always talking about when he got lost at the K-Mart Store in ElPaso, Texas.  I used to always tell my three kids to hold onto the buggy handle and not to let go unless I said so.  Well, I was looking at school clothes for them, he got bored, and drifted off.  When I noticed that he was not there, I literally stood in the middle of the aisle, screamed his name, and Security came over to help me.  They looked in every aisle in the store, the bathrooms, and finally the Tonka toy aisle, where sitting comfortably on the floor with his legs crossed was my six year old son, playing with Tonka toys that he had unboxed. At first I hugged him so tight (that he asked to be let go) because I was so glad he was okay, then I spanked his behind for walking away and scaring me half to death.  His two sisters, ages 4 and 2, never did that.  Needless to say, he never did that again either.  That was truly a lesson learned, for both of us.

    Now everytime I look at this strapping father of one son, I am struck by how much I love him and how proud I am of him.

    Thank you for letting me share.

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