Thursday, November 8, 2007

Lost & Found

You never really know if what you say to your children is getting through. You try to prepare them for "In Case of Emergency" scenarios but how can you be certain that they are prepared? When it comes right down to it, will they know what to do? Will you......
I lost my son in a Super Wal-Mart yesterday. I'm not talking about a, "Uh-Oh" I don't see him and then he comes round the end of the isle a second later, type lost. No, this was a Code Blue, lock the exits, every employee notified, 5 minutes that drug on for eternity, he has Vanished type lost.
I'm not exactly sure how it happened. We were walking past the isles, and at the end of one isle there was a toy guitar that caught his eye. We stopped to look at it. I was ready to move on and said, "OK, let's go." I thought he followed me, I guess he didn't. I turned down an isle and looked behind me, he wasn't there. I went back to the end of the isle, I saw the toy guitar, but I did not see my son. I checked the surrounding isles....nothing.
It was at this moment that the voice in my head began its dialog; "He's right here, I know he is right here." The voice that tries to steady you as you feel the grip of icy fear embrace your heart and soul.
Fortunately, a Wal-Mart employee came around the end of an isle. I believe I literally grabbed him by the arm. "Sir, my son has wandered away from me!" I could not say the words "I have lost my son." He asked me for a description and his age. "He is 5." I heard myself say it....the voice in my head started to scream..."he is only 5, and this store is huge and I don't know where he is, PLEASE help me!! He was just RIGHT HERE!!!!" The man got on his walkie talkie and alerted every associate in Wal-mart. They locked the exits, no one in or out.
I left the man to continue my frantic search. I wanted to run to him, but I didn't know which direction to go. The voice said, "What if I start out one way, and he is in the other?" I felt like screaming his name as loud as I could, but "What if he was calling to me, I wouldn't be able to hear him."
Now the voice became sinister as it spoke my deepest darkest fear, "What if someone took him? What if, they saw him not follow you? What if, they saw you turn into the isle without him and in that moment, snatched him away?" Tears began to stream down my face. As my worst nightmare sprang to life, every horrific child abduction story I had ever heard began to run through my mind. I dissolved into full blown PANIC.....and then, I heard my name. On the store loud speaker, a man was calling my name, "....Please come to the fitting room located in the middle of the store, your son is waiting for you." And there he was, surrounded by Wal-Mart associates.

When he saw me, he ran to me and I scooped him up and held him as close as possible as the Flood Gates of Gratitude burst open and I sobbed. He whispered into my ear, "I'm sorry Mama, please don't cry." One of the associates came over to me and said: "You have a very smart little boy. He came to me and told me that he was lost. He said that his Mama had told him not to talk to strangers but to find someone who worked here. I asked him your name and he told me so that I was able to page you." I looked at my son, he was not crying, he was not fearful, he had not panicked. He had carried out the plan, just as he was instructed to do. In this emergency situation, he had kept the cool head and it was he who found me, not the other way round.

Blessing #8: Lessons taught to us by our children.

28 comments:

Mary said...

Oh Rhonda, I'm sitting here crying in sympathy! How frightening! I'm so glad everything turned out OK, and it sounds like your son is a smart little boy! Sounds like Wal-Mart has it's act together, too. Thank God it all came out well!
xoxo,
Mary

FarmHouse Style said...

So true Mary, Wal-Mart was spot on and handled the situations precisely as they should have.

Rhonda

Nunnie's Attic said...

Ok Rhonda I'm bawling. I could feel your pain and panic. Even though I knew that obviously he had been found or you wouldn't be posting like you did. But STILL. I can't even imagine staying calm. I would have DEFINITELY panicked. You are raising a very very smart little boy and should be very proud. And for Wal-Mart - good for them! It's comforting to know that they will take the necessary steps to ensure the safety of the children.

Love,
Julie

Kathleen Grace said...

Rhonda, this brought tears to my eyes. As a mother I know the horror of fear that must have caused. I had just a moment of it once when my youngest daughter was 3. She thought it was wonderful fun to crawl into the middle of the round clothing racks at Sears! My moment of terror wasn't as long as yours but I sure got a taste of it. She wore a wrist leash at the mall for a while after that until she learned not to play those games!Praise God that your son is alright!

BittersweetPunkin said...

Rhonda...I haven't cried in a while...wow do I ever feel your agony!! I am SO glad those wonderful people found your Baby and he knew what to do...how proud you must be of him! My DS is 13 but he is small for his age and we were in the Dollar Store the other day and I lost sight of him and started calling his name real loud (I don't care what other people think)...I think he responded out of sheer embarrassment!! LOL
Blessings,
Robin

BittersweetPunkin said...

PS-Write a letter to the management praising the employees actions and their lockdown system.....Walmart is quick to hear from the complainers but how often do we ever take time to acknowledge a job well done??

FarmHouse Style said...

Excellent suggestion, Robin! I will do just that.

Rhonda

Bax said...

I often stop by your blog and find it very enjoyable! Your post today had me crying. I can remember going through the exact same panic when my little guy was that age (he's now 26) and your post brought all that panic back! So happy your little guy kept a level head and did as he was instructed! Good for him! Give him a big hug from all of your blogger friends!!
Jan

Thyen Party of Four said...

I stop by your blog often :) I'm sorry I've never comment or introduced myself before. Your post is a timely reminder of how fast things happen. I have a five year old as well - who happened to wander off at Walmart one day with her Daddy. Fightening for them, but I think more so for parents sometimes. Thank you for a reminder - especially as we enter a busy holiday season - not to mention just busy everyday life too.

regina barnett said...

I can across your blogg. and read your story about losing your child. That is a scaring feeling.

Meggie said...

Oh Rhonda, how awful for you. How wonderful that your 5 year old remembered the plan...what a smart young man! I bet you didn't know it was you who were lost? Thank God all turned out well. He sounds like the mature kind of kid who would enjoy "Bodies."

Flea Market Queen said...

Oh Rhonda...how scary! I am so, so happy he was found safely for we all know that isn't always the case! A blessing for sure...
Priscilla

ShabbyInTheCity said...

oh boy. I've had it happen and I also did it to my mom! Glad he is safe in your arms!!!

Sondra said...

You and your son have brought me to tears in this post. I am thankful that he found you and that he has given you the strength to believe in him, should a similar situation ever arise again!

Counting Your Blessings said...

Oh Rhonda, that's just the most horrible, horrible feeling! I am teary remembering when it happened to me at the Salvation Army. Screaming, "You go to that door - I'm going to the front door -HURRY!" Praise God! Oh, praise God that in those paniced moments He reminds our children what to do! You were blessed... Polly

Brenda said...

Rhonda,This brought tears to my eyes. I have felt this panic to many times as a Mom and Nana.This makes me think I need to spend time teaching Kaytlynn. We have lost her so many times and all I could do is fall on my knees.
Thanks for the reminder and Im happy you are both ok.

Michelle said...

How frightening..this would be so scary. It was nice to hear a good story about Wal-Mart.

Karen said...

How wonderful that he was safe and sound, and remembered your directions so clearly. But what a scare for Mom!

Esther Sunday said...

Oh, Rhonda. I could feel the panic, from one mother to another. He did great, and so did the Walmart employees. The fear and relief must have been intense. I cried at this one, darlin. Love ya.

bj said...

Oh, Rhonda...I am sitting here uttering a prayer of thanks for your precious baby. I am so thankful for the employees of Walmart but mostly for you, teaching your son what to do, to keep "cool" and go for someone that worked there, thankful for the smartness of your boy. My best blessings to all of you,
bj

Yellow Rose Arbor said...

I'm so thankful you found your little boy!! It was frightening to me just reading the details! Thanks to our Lord you had a happy ending!

Katherine

Copper's Wife said...

I was in tears reading this. It's a mother's worst nightmare, combined with her greatest gift (the found child!). What a smart little guy to remember exactly what you had told him to do, and what a smart YOU to have taught it to him!

Scrappy Moments said...

Rhonda,

Ok I need a Kleenex now. I would have done the same thing, except knowing me I wouldn't have stayed as calm as you probably did. I think it's called being a mother. What an awful thing to have to experience, but what a Wonderful Blessing that he was found.Definatelly a Gratitude Moment.
Speaking of which, Hope to see you at The Gratitude Gala Tommorow :)

Angie

Sophie Honeysuckle said...

Rhonda,I felt choked reading this-I can imagine your panic all too well. Thank goodness this story had a happy ending-and what a sensible son you have!
And just wanted to say I totally agree with you about the demands of teaching these days. Hopefully when you return you will get lots of support from your colleagues-and I'll be here too-we can compare notes and grumble together lol!!
Enjoy your weekend!x

Sallie said...

I am so glad this worked out the way it did!! You have a very smart young man :-)

God bless,
Sallie

Cottage Contessa said...

Oh Rhonda! I'm sitting here reading this and my heart is pounding, lump in my throat and tears running down my face. This happened to us too when my daughter was 3. Such a long time ago now, but instantly I was back there reliving it reading this post. I'm SO HAPPY that things ended happily (for us both!) and what a great son you have there, to have carried out "the plan" so perfectly. Great job mum!
Amanda (aka Cottage Contessa)

Penny @ Lavender Hill Studio said...

Oh Rhonda, I can hardly type this because of the tears ouring down my face! You have a very smart son! Thank goodness you had the forsight to have a "plan"
Hugs,
Penny

Melissa @ The Inspired Room said...

OH MY! My worst nightmare and my greatest hope wrapped up in to one post. What a story! Yikes! Praise God he did the right thing!