Saturday, April 05, 2008

It all started, innocently enough, at Stacey's favorite place

Yep, Walmart. (Stacey LOVES that place!) Since Hubby now works from home and he's "home" at 5pm, we can now do errands in the evenings instead of stacking them all up for the weekend. So on Thursday night, we took the clan out with plans to hit Walmart (briefly), Blockbuster (to return only) and the mall for a couple returns of mine. We started at Walmart.

Hubby needed something for his office and Matthew had a return. For his birthday in September, he'd gotten a duplicate Bionicle. Last week we spent reorganizing his room and found that extra Bionicle. I asked why it wasn't opened yet and he said, "Mom, don't you remember you said we could return it for money?" I know Bionicle has their new line out now and I've seen some of the old ones clearanced already so I sadly explained that he needed to return items as quickly as possible before they go on sale so he can get the full money out of them. So walking into Walmart, we were discussing it again and he was worried about only getting $2 for a $10 item. We walked in the front door.

Hubby was carrying Linnae and said he was going to get a cart. I handed him the floppy seat for her and saw the goslings following after him. Matthew and I stopped at the greeter for the stupid return sticker. Matthew handed the guy his sealed Bionicle container. The senior guy looks it over, slowly, and says something about Lego's still being the #1 choice for boys, slowly, and puts a happy face sticker on it and slowly hands it back to Matthew. Rose appeared by my side at this point to see what was going on. Matthew gave me a look that said, "MooooooM - I didn't want this guy's stickers when I was three, I *certainly* don't want them NOW!" I said to the guy, "This is a return". He says, "OH! I thought he was showing me his toy!" Ummm...yeah, because that's what all 7 yr olds want to do is show the old stranger at the front of the store their toys (especially without saying something like, "See my new toy!"). He slowly peeled the sticker off, slowly scanned the canister about 10 times and slowly FINALLY handed it back to us, asking if we knew where returns are. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I LIVE HERE! And did I say we were in a hurry trying to get to three places tonight (plus the mall is a 15 minute drive)?

So having gotten through that ordeal, we finally met up with Hubby who had finally figured out the floppy seat and gotten Linnae in it. He said he was headed to office supplies. I said Matthew and I were headed to returns in the back. We start to leave and Rose fusses that she wants to go and Hubby said, "Can you take her too?" I said, "Yeah" and we left. We were cutting through furniture when we hear over the PA that there's a code Adam (for those who don't live there, it's like an Amber alert - for missing children - inside Walmart). When this code goes on, every Walmart employee stops what they're doing immediately to find the lost kid. I decide that this is a good teachable moment. I tell the kids that there's a lost little girl and if they see one wandering around by herself to let me know. We plow through to returns and amazingly, there's no line. As the lady is doing her stuff, employees come from the break room and ask her if the alert is over. She says no. Matthew held his breath as the lady scanned it and ~whew~ he got full price for it. He was ecstatic. I know the feeling. :) Well, he obviously wanted to see if the new ones were the same price so we stopped in toys. We hear the Adam alert again but this time, it seems it's not exactly an Adam alert...this time, it's that they *have* the kid, it's the parent who is missing. They say she's a 2 yr old with brown hair.

While standing there looking at Bionicles, another mom stops me and asks what toys a 5yr old boy likes. I think back and scour my frazzled (and in a hurry) brain and say Matthew was into Buzz Lightyear and Legos. [Friends with girls, let me tell you - no matter WHAT age, LEGOS are always a hit with boys!!!! Think of little boys as engineer students - anything they can build or demolish is a GREAT gift.] Matthew was having trouble picking between a couple items and I remind him that he has more money in his bank at home and I would be willing to lend him the extra. Rose runs to the next aisle to look at Littlest Pet Shop stuff. We hear the Adam alert again, "Attention - we have a 2 yr old with brown hair at the front of the store. She's really cute." Matthew finishes up in his section and we meet Rose. She's trying to decide between one case and the next for her pets. A couple comes by us and says, "Did you hear about the lost kid? Who could lose their kid for so long??" I said, "Well, actually, it's pretty easy. Like tonight, my husband is with me - sometimes one parent thinks the other parent has the child and vice versa." She placatingly agrees and says, "We saw her up front - she's just adorable!" Then she points at Rose and says, "She looks just like her". Whatever. I've been told the curly blond with green eyes looks 'just like' Rose too. In one ear and out the other. We hear the alert again while this lady was jabbering.

I spend a few minutes explaining to Rose (another teachable moment) that the $15 container only holds 25 pets but the $20 container will hold up to 150 pets and it's the better deal (plus it looks more sturdy, will stand up, etc). So I help her weigh the pros and cons (the feature animal included) and we start to leave the aisle when Hubby calls me. "In case you're wondering, I have Jade." STILL, I don't get it yet. I'm thinking, "of course you do - I left the two little ones with you". "What?" I ask. He says, "She was the lost girl up front."

Can I just say that I wanted to crawl under the nearest rock??? I don't mind telling you that I didn't even want to meet up with them and ADMIT that she was my child at that point. I KNOW what everyone in the store was thinking about "that poor girls mother!" I don't know that I've ever felt more stupid...well, it was close to the day I broke Matthew's leg (have I ever blogged about that?) but this was worse. I mean, I EXPLAINED the actual scenario to the lady in toys!! And she said she looked 'just like' Rose!!! Jade had probably been up there for 30 minutes before he retrieved her. But Mommy guilt got the better of me (was she scared??) and I trudged through to office supplies, where I found them waiting for me. She was her usual happy-go-lucky self, none the worse for wear and proudly showing off her happy face sticker (probably the one Matthew had removed from his return).

I asked him how he knew it was her. He said, the last announcement said her name was Jade (which I didn't hear) and he told Linnae, "Guess I know who that is". Upon finding her, he asked Jade who he was (without prompting her) and she said, "Daddy". He asked her what she'd been doing and she said, "riding the horse". See there's a stupid mechanical horse at the front of the store. We have never ridden it but it definitely would catch the attention of a 3yr old. I'm guessing that when Rose came to meet up with us and super-slow guy at the front, Jade followed her...and then got sidetracked on the horse. When she turned around, we were gone. Looking back, we don't think she was with us when we split up by the shopping carts. And yes, I was so sure Hubby had her that it never once crossed my mind that it might possibly be one of my kids. At least I was sympathetic to "the girls mother" instead of wanting to flog her like the rest of the store.

My only hope at this point was to get out of the store before anyone we knew recognized us (and her). We were standing in checkout when childhood best friend's sister, Bev, stops in her tracks.

~Everything went in slow motion like that episode in Frasier where Roz is disgusting from just working out and sees an old high school classmate. She says, "Please, please, please, God don't let him recognize me!". Then you hear, "Roz, is that you?" And, eyes still upturned, she says sarcastically, "Thanks for listening!"~

Eyeing Jade, she asks, "Is this YOUR little girl?" Embarrassed, I fumbled through explaining that each of us thought the other had her and quickly made our way out the door. Of course, in hind sight, she did know me when I was that age and since Jade is the spitting image of me (poor thing), shouldn't she have recognized her immediately? teehee.

She was so close to the front doors, I'm just incredibly thankful that someone noticed her! I asked Hubby if they explained how they found her and he said they were too busy telling him how cute she was. Yep, I should have known when they mentioned she was cute on the PA that it was one of my kids. [evil grin]

Of course, on the way to the van, I called my mom to relay the story. Her first response? "Laurie, you'll do ANYTHING for a blog post!"


Pattie said...

Hee hee!

Well, your kids ARE cute. And you ARE a great storyteller! :)

Jean 2 said...

OH MY GOODNESS. I knew that was where your story was heading...I could feel the anticipation (great writers do that) and I couldn't wait to figure out how it happened. I am glad you were sympathetic to the "mom" about her missing child. Code Adams are also in our area-I think that is the ALL Wal-mart term for missing children. Anyway, I worked at Wal-mart for seven years. I have experienced a few of the Code Adams and when I see a crying mom in desperate search for her child I can only imagine her pain and fear-I don't feel anger towards her or judge her. I am so glad that turned out well for you, and in fact, funny in a sense.

Diane said...

At least yours was just riding the horse at the front of the store. Mine tried to wander out in traffic when DH & I each thought the other had him. I KNOW that wonderful feeling of losing a child & NOT even knowing it!

BTW, How the heck are you?!

DianeTX (remember me?)

Jean 1 said...

LOL....gotta say we have a bit of a pattern, you and I..and even Jade. Hee hee. Guess we'll have to start putting those hospital bracelets on our kids for id purposes.

Laurie said...

ROFL Jean - Hubby has been quizzing Jade on our "real" names all weekend. ..she's got mine down pat but Daddy's name is so hard to say (ROFL) that she just can't remember it!! teeheehee
You know, it brought up a good point though. Most young kids don't know their parents names...what people should do is ask their SIBLINGS names. If they'd said, "her siblings are...", I would have figured it out quicker.

Diane! Of course I remember you - how are you?? Send me an email update when you get a minute to unschoolingblogger at

SPONGEMOM SWEATPANTS (formerly Crazy Mama!) said...

SEE? See why I HATE walmart! That was HILARIOUS, by the way...and I'm so glad everybody is safe! Just another reason for me to stop with three children - one more and I'm confident I actually would lose one. :)

Cat said...

OMG!!! So funny, like jean 2 said I could see where it was headed, but soooooo glad everything turned out OK! What you mean your name isn't Mommy!!!LOL!

Again glad everything is OK and she's none the worse for her excitement!!

Jen E said...

OMG hon!!! but it sounds like something I would do and I only have 2! Glad you guys figured it out!