It was the morning of Mother’s Day and due to the travel the day before I was last minute shopping for my mom at Lowe’s. I thought it would be neat since it was her first Mother’s day as a grandparent to get a plant planted by my (at the time) three year old step son in a cute pot.
While my husband and I were standing in line at the garden check out, I took a moment to take in the warm west Texas weather as the large iron gates were spread open for the large amount of spring weekend traffic. Crowds of people walked in and out in a constant flow. Behind us in line was a father with his three children, we will say they were approximately 6, 4, & a little over a year and a half. The father had started talking shop with a friend he had incidentally bumped into, in between conversation he asked the oldest daughter to keep an eye on the two toddlers. The six year old girl was excited for such a responsibility, but even more excited for a little freedom. With this freedom she and the four year old began to play hide and seek, and over time forgot about the one and a half year old.
I actually myself was not sure at this point if the one and half year old was with the man or the family in line in front of us as the smallest toddler spent equal amounts of time standing near both families, and no one acknowledged the child’s existence. Finally the family in front of us was leaving, and the tiniest toddler toddled behind them, across the street and into the parking lot. I looked back to grab the dad’s attention, but then thought better of it. Surely if the tiniest toddler did not belong to the group of older women in front of us, they would have stopped and said something.
As we were checking out, the dad began to notice the incorrect math on the number of children that remained…
Quick Aside: Anyone who knows me, knows I’m a sucker for dads. I subscribe to every dad blog I can without even flinching, I just find their perspectives on parenting fascinating and fun. Perhaps it was because I had such a close bond to my father, perhaps it was because I lost my father at such a young age, either way, I love dads! So understand I’m not being hateful when I say that this is a typical dad conundrum, sometimes they forget the kids are younger than they appear (not to say some mom’s are not guilty of the same thing).
…The dad turned to the oldest and asked, “where is your baby sister.” The young girl stopped her playing and dashed into the garden center to began searching aisles. The man started yelling after her, and then complaining to his friend, all while I do attempt to tell him where she went.
At this point I had only just recently had my own daughter and the mommy hormones in me at this point are panicking. Without a word to my husband I throw the pot and plant in his arms and dash past the gates, out in front of the insane traffic up close to the building. I spot the tiny toddler halfway down the parking lot, no longer where cars are parked and heading for the only major highway in town. The years of long distance track came in handy.
When I approached the young girl I had to think how to not frighten her. I didn’t want to just scoop her up as that would only result in looking as if I was making off with her. So instead I talk softly, you know, “Hey cutie, where are you going?” She stops, and then hesitantly begins to head towards me as I slowly stretch out my arm. She grasps hold as we make our way back the decently long trek to the storefront where the father and children are still frantically looking for the young girl.
The return was not as welcoming or heartwarming as I imagined, but instead, out of fear, the man came off angry yelling at all the kids, the youngest for wandering off and the older two for not watching the youngest. I could understand his frustration. He ripped the child from my grasp as we were crossing and didn’t even make eye contact for thanks. Again I assume out of embarrassment…