After eating [the most disgusting and inedible] chicken strips from A&W, Lucy and I headed to Nickelodeon Universe on the ground level of the Mall of America. She was ecstatic as soon as her eyes spot the “Blue Dog” ride. Round and round and up and down she went. “Again! Again!” she screamed.
Because Eleanor is in a garbage can stage, we decided to make the trip to the Disney store after poor Mickey never found his way out. So I grabbed the now droopy Lucy (after 2 hours of rides) and aimed towards the nearest mall map. Following the decision to ‘wing it,’ since I’m unable to actually read a map, we walked and walked and walked and walked…. clearly the excessive walking was indicative of my poor sense of directions since we almost lapped the mall before falling near the Disney store.
Anyway, so we finally get the to the Disney Store. We picked out a few things for Nora, grabbed a new Mickey and I walked towards the checkout counter. I carried Lucy and she begged to get down to play in the castle adjacent to the registers. I gave the woman my money, turned to grab Lucy and couldn’t find her. I bent down into the castle tunnels, quickly paced around the right and then left sides of the store… no Lucy. I immediately asked the associate to help me locate her. She told me she’d call Mall Security right away and ushered me to the door. The Disney store “Greeter” asked me, “What’s her name? What is she wearing?” He proceeded to tell me that he had not seen a little girl walk out of the store. “Okay,” I said, “Then she must still be in the store.” I was peeking around shelving, assuming she was hiding. I ran out of the store looking down both hallways. Still no Lucy.
By now all the Disney store employees were frantically looking, while one was trying to calm me down (which was unnecessary considering I was the calmest of the bunch). Just as I was about to say, “We’ll find her,” the Greeter pointed down the hallway to the right. “Is that her? With the Toy Story toys?”
There she was. More beautiful to me than ever, walking back towards the Disney store. I don’t know how she left unnoticed, where or how far she had gone, but there she was. I ran to scoop her up and thanked the Disney store peeps for all of their help. It wasn’t until much after she was in my arms that my hands began to shake uncontrollably and my face became cold and clammy. Images of crazy psychos snatching up my kid in a white van with no windows and a Maine license plate flashed through my head (I may have read too many Jodi Picoult books to be a realist anymore– but really, you never know). Thank God she was okay, thank God!
I am not the first person to ‘misplace’ a child in a seriously crowded place and I won’t be the last. But if you don’t want to lose your kid, follow these steps:
1. Find a big rope and tie yourselves together (but not too tight because, you know, that might get you a call from CPS).
2. Carry your kids everywhere. Even when they are 50 pounds and they cry to get down. Just squeeze them harder and hope they don’t become blue in the face.
3. Never, ever leave the house. Put padlocks on the doors and let your kids obtain their vitamin D through locked and barred windows.
Or just really, really watch your kids. Unfortunately, it just takes a second.
Even after that whole mess, it was such a wonderful day with my sweetheart.