Missing Child

Jacqui - posted on 08/17/2012 ( 2 moms have responded )

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It’s your worst fear. You’re in a shopping mall. It’s busy. There are people everywhere. Your child is by your feet. Isn’t she??? You look down and she’s gone. You look around frantically and she’s nowhere to be seen. You scour faces, backs of heads trying to find her and then, luckily you spot her. Face glued against the sweetie shop window, linking her lips and completely oblivious to the fact that she is ‘lost’.

My mother tells me that when I was four years old, she lost me. I do remember it, partly. She tells me that we were in a supermarket. She realised she had forgotten something from an aisle and she told me to ‘wait there’, to ‘not move a muscle‘ whilst she disappeared up an aisle to find her pasta, or whatever it was. I did ‘wait there’ for what seemed like an eternity and was probably only a few minutes. And then I saw her…or I thought I did. It was her legs, to be precise. I spotted her legs and she wasn’t coming back to me..and so I followed her. I followed those legs all the way out of the supermarket and along the road to the post-office. It was only when I actually got to the post-office that I realised that the legs didn’t belong to my Mum but to a complete stranger, wearing similar tights. By that time I was a little confused…and, being four..I couldn’t find my way back to the supermarket. So, I just stood there. In the middle of the pavement, confused and a little disoriented, waiting to be ‘found’.

I was found – 35 minutes later, by which point I was crying and distressed. My mother, when she found me, along with the security guards at the supermarket was crying more though, although I didn’t recognise it at the time. They had scoured every inch of the supermarket before venturing onto the street outside.

I, off course, was oblivious to how much drama I had caused, until today when it all came flooding back.

So, picture this. I am at work. Busy and a little stressed. Work dramas are unfolding around me as there are issues about a Client’s advertising placement. I’m in the middle of dealing with it when the phone rings. It’s Hubbie. “Hi honey!” I say, pleased to hear from him. He doesn’t waste time. He says the three words no parent wants to hear: “Sasha’s gone missing.”

“What?“ I respond, relatively calmly, “What do you mean, ‘missing”.”

Hubbie is not prone to exaggeration or extravagance of words so, when he says the words: “She’s been missing for 35 minutes. Hot Nanny has just phoned. Everyone’s out looking for her.” I know to be a little concerned. Actually more than a little, but I’m trying to remain calm. Suddenly my Client’s duplicity of advertising is no longer the biggest thing in my mind. “Okay..okay,” I reply, “I’ll leave now.”

“Hot Nanny was about to phone the police,” he reports, “but I’ve said to give it 5 more minutes. If she doesn’t turn up by then, Hot Nanny will call and we’ll the phone the police and head home.”

“Right,” I reply, biting my lip in concern, “5 minutes.”

The next 5 minutes are the slowest 5 minutes known-to-man. Every minute seems to drag by. I am trying to get my head around my Client’s issues but, to be honest, they feel insignificant now.

When my colleague calls to discuss them, I am only half-listening to her. She blabs on and I nod and agree distractedly, looking at the clock the whole time. Seriously, has it actually only been 2 minutes??? Suddenly, half-way through the call, my mobile rings. Hubbie’s name is displayed. I snatch it up, cutting off my colleague at the same time.

He says the words I really don’t want to hear. “I’m grabbing a taxi, heading home now. They still haven’t found her. The builders are helping look too.” I pale when I realise the implication of his words. We are in the midst of a renovation and there are holes and dangers everywhere around our house at the moment. Oh no… “I’m on my way,” is all I manage.

5 minutes later, I’m screeching uphill in my car when my mobile rings again: “They’ve found her. She was hiding behind the curtains curled up in a tiny ball in her bedroom the entire time.” Relief rings through in his voice. I realise that I am actually a little rattled. I have to pull over and regain my composure before returning back to the office. Half of me wants to race back home. To shake her and hug her and make her realise the worry she has caused everyone. Not just us but Hot Nanny, the neighbours, the builders and half the people in the street, all of whom have been scouring cracks and gardens – one family even walked to the nearest school for us in case she had gone to visit her brother.

To her, it was just a game. She thought it was hide and seek and was great fun that everyone was looking for her. She had no concept of how distressed Hot Nanny and everyone else was. Our builders were even driving around the neighbourhood looking for her, for goodness sake!

So, yes, I will be ticking my minx of a child off for putting everyone through a huge amount of worry today, but at the same time, I am more than a little relieved that it was, to a small child, just a game of hide and seek and that, our daughter is currently now tucked up in bed, safe and sound and still oblivious to the dangers of the world.

I also want to take the time to thank everyone who was involved with today’s search. Many of whom have their own children and so dropped everything they were doing to help out, in realisation that it could be their own child missing.
Jacqui from http://www.ifonlytheytoldme.com

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