It was a weekday morning right after the mall had re-opened earlier this summer. We had spent a ridiculously long time in a store, first waiting to get in and then waiting to return something. My kids were antsy. Rightfully so. We had just gotten a snack when my son announced that he had to go to the bathroom. We were right outside one of his favorite stores. He knew where the bathroom was and said that he could go by himself. I didn’t think that a quick trip to the bathroom would lead to my son getting lost.
The mall was not very busy. I told my son that he could go and he went inside to use the bathroom. He’s in elementary school and based on the scenario, I felt it was okay. Within a couple of minutes, I told my daughter that we’d go in the store and wait for him outside the bathroom. We did just that. Several minutes passed and my son didn’t come out. At that point, I didn’t feel worried. I was more annoyed that I had to hold bags, plus his slush and pretzel. A store manager walked by and noticed us waiting. He offered to poke his head inside the restroom and check if my son was still in there. I said yes, but wasn’t expecting him to come out and report that it was empty.
At that point, he asked if I wanted them to page my son on the overhead speaker. I said sure, doubtful he would even pay attention to the announcement. It was worth a try. While they paged him, I had my daughter wait at the entrance of the store in case he came out. I walked to his favorite areas to see if I could spot him. In my lap around the store, all the employees I passed were also looking for him. No luck. I also saw employees starting to gather at the doors. I’ve worked in retail and knew exactly what they were doing. They wanted to make sure no one else was trying to take him out of the store. Then, I started to feel a little nervous. I sheepishly told the manager “I don’t know where else to look”.
It was at that very moment I looked up. I saw my son walking with a security guard just outside the entrance to the mall. “I didn’t know where you went,” he said. “So I went to the lady at the jewelry kiosk and had her call you.” It turned out he had given my husband’s phone number to her instead of mine. He didn’t answer the unknown call. When the lady couldn’t get ahold of anyone, she contacted mall security. It must have broken a world record for the fastest bathroom break. Apparently, my son was in and out of the bathroom in the couple of minutes it took me to walk back to meet him outside of it.
The lesson of my son getting lost
I asked my son if he had been scared. He said no. Just embarrassed because he had to walk with the security officer to find us. I am very proud of him for remembering what I had always told him to do if he gets lost in a store. Find an employee and have them overhead page me or call me. Needless to say, I’ll probably wait a bit before letting him do that again.
As a parent, have you ever had a moment like this? You can also read more about fellow blogger Diana’s experience here.