I’m not making a very big deal out of this, or at least wasn’t at the time, but in truth it really is a big deal. You see, today I lost Jess. I did not know where my daughter was and it was scary as heck. At the time I was calm and collected, but looking back at it now, it was scary as hell.
And it could have ended much worse.
The stupid part is that all of it was down to a very basic parenting mistake quite frankly – I should, and do, know better. Parenting 101. But mistakes do happen and today a very big one was made.
With Chantelle working, I was left on kid duty for the day, and still needing things for my upcoming trip to Japan, I bundled Emily and Jessica into the car and headed off to Somerset Mall. With Emily in her pram, and Jessica holding my hand, we entered Pick ‘n Pay and made our way through a very busy store (payday weekend) down to the furthest corner which houses the clothing section.
Together Jessica and I browsed through the t-shirts and loaded up the pram with a few new ones which she helped me pull out. Then I stopped to have a quick look at the shorts because the only pair of shorts that I currently possess has a great big hole in the crotch area and I’m having huge difficulties in sourcing shorts big enough to fit my large posterior and tree trunk legs. One pair in particular looked quite promising.
Meanwhile, bored, Jessica had taken to climbing up and down the staff ladder and was happily busy entertaining herself in the clothing area.
I asked for access to the fitting cubicle and pulled Emily, pram and all inside. I looked to my side and saw Jessica still happily playing on the ladder. I told her that Emily and I were going inside, and when she is finished she must come here to me. I closed the door and started changing pants.
All of a sudden I hear Jess’ voice crying “Daddy, daddy, where are you?!?”, and recognizing that the voice was travelling away from the area at a very fast pace, I basically flung open the door, pulled up my pants, grabbed Emily’s pram and started searching. Soon I had a number of ladies that were in the area helping me with my search (it is a very large store), and whilst they combed down the aisles, I headed straight down the line of tills, loudly bellowing “Jessica!” down each and every aisle that I passed.
As I reached the entrance of the store, one of the ladies who was helping me look down the aisles, caught my eye gestured that she had spotted Jess, and I won’t lie, my heart skipped a beat when I turned at the entrance to spot a quivering, sobbing Jessica sitting at the manager’s desk in the front of the store.
I swooped in and picked up my frantic little girl, giving her the biggest bear hug that you can imagine.
Twenty seconds later, with a packet of Nik Naks now in her possession, and no more tears in sight, we were walking back towards the clothing section, hand firmly in hand.
(For the record, this time Emily, Emily’s pram, Jessica, and I all squeezed into the cubicle together. The shorts didn’t fit.)
A lesson learned indeed.