Today I experienced every parents worst nightmare. Abby got lost at the store.
We were on the same aisle checking out Disney Princesses in the toy section no more than six feet apart. As we were talking, I looked down and she rounded the corner and something caught her eye and she went to look at it. In that split second, my heart jumped up into my throat. She also noticed that she didn’t have a visual on me and panicked and began to run. Each aisle that I looked down, she was one ahead of me. The more I called her name, the more terror that built up inside me. I think every child abduction episode of Criminal Minds flashed through my head.
Thankfully, Abby knew to find an adult and the store manager happen to be nearby. The almost hysterical 4 year old running at him probably caught his attention too. When he went to help her, she told him what her name was, what my name was, and that she was lost. We were only two aisles apart.
The whole ordeal lasted maybe two minutes tops but it was honestly the scariest two minutes of my life. In a blink of an eye, things went from a fun girls’ day out to a terrifying experience.
When we were at the beach this summer, I made a very big point to show Abby who the lifeguards were and where to go if she couldn’t find me. Obviously she was never in the water alone but in case of a wave knocked her down or she just got disoriented as it is easy to do, I wanted her to know exactly where to go. Unfortunately, I don’t think we always make the same parenting precautions in our “home” territory.
As scared and terrified as I was in that moment, I was also very proud of Abby. She is a smart little girl. I don’t think she could have reacted any better to the situation. I am also extremely thankful to the store manager who was so kind and gentle with her and reacted so quickly.
Our story had a happy (and quick) ending but I am aware things could have turned out differently and thank God that I will be able put my little girl to bed tonight. I hope our experience can serve as a reminder how quickly something can happen and the importance of educating our children how to respond to potential situations.