October 8, 2008

Lost and Found

All year long my children have been looking forward to a special event--the Lego Convention (yes, there really is such a thing). Howdy is fanatical about Legos and the other 2 just think they're fun but we all enjoy going. It's held in Seattle and people come from all over the country to show off their Lego sculptures. They have a Space Needle that is taller than me, an Eiffel Tower, a 10+ foot Titanic. It's fun to see what they can come up with.

Hubby had a friend's birthday party to go to but I headed out with the kids and their friend, G. It was very hot, very crowded and people kept pushing and shoving but we still had a great time. When it was almost time to go, we decided to head back to one of the tables so that G could buy one more figure. Bubba kept trying to read his new Lego magazine while we were walking and I had to keep steering him back on course since he wasn't paying attention. I let the kids know the plan--one more stop and then home--and we set off for the table not too far from where we were at.

We got there and I helped G elbow his way to the front. I then made sure my kids were stashed in a nearby corner so I could watch everyone at once. Only Bubba wasn't with us. I looked around but didn't see him. Knowing he had to be standing in front of some display that we passed, completely oblivious to the fact that we left him, I sent G back to grab him. But G couldn't find him. I parked G with the other 2 with explicit instructions "NOT TO MOVE FROM THAT SPOT!" while I went to hunt down Bubba. I was a little frustrated that I hadn't made sure he was walking with me where I could've kept an eye on him but I was not worried. I know this kid. I just knew I was going to find him drooling over some new Lego set on display. So I walked back the way we came, searching through the crowd for my son. I even started calling his name. I still wasn't worried, I just figured some adult was probably blocking him from my view. When he didn't answer I started to get a little more frustrated. So I stopped where I was and shouted, "I have a lost child!" That got everyone's attention. Heads whipped around and I gave a description of what he was wearing and what he looked like. (I never thought I would be able to recall what my child was wearing if I needed to give out a description like that so I was pretty proud of myself for knowing exactly what he had on.)

While I stood there waiting for my little brown-headed boy to pop out of the crowd, some nice gentleman asked me if I had told the security officers at the door. I told him no, that I hadn't told anyone before this moment. He said, "Why don't we go to security and let them know what's going on?"

I need to stop here for a moment. As I'm writing this, it seems like the most obvious thing that I should've done. But I was actually irritated with this man. I didn't have time to talk to security! I had to stay right there and wait for Bubba to appear. If I left that spot, how would he find me? And what if the other kids got worried? They wouldn't know where I was either. But I reasoned with myself that there were lots of adults looking around for him now and it was probably a good idea after all to let security know there was a lost child.

As I was walking toward the entrance with this man and his wife, something occurred to me. If something had happened to Bubba, I had just wasted all that time being so determined that he wasn't anywhere else. He could've been carried off while I stood there waiting for him to answer me already. (In reality, I had only been looking for him for about 5 minutes but it had felt like an hour.) That's when panic set in. I started sobbing. I couldn't see, I couldn't talk, I was hysterical. It hit me that my son was lost. I had no idea where he was or who he was with. I can't even think about it without crying.

The nice couple helped get me to the front door where I think I gave a description of him. I wasn't there long when someone said, "I think we found him." Then a lady who was working there came through the front door with Bubba. I started bawling all over again. I squeezed him up and alternated between kissing him all over and yelling at him to NEVER leave the building if he can't find me. Of course, my hysterics freaked him out and he started crying. But he was found, that's all that mattered.

Later, when we were leaving, Bubba pointed to the stairs that lead to street level and more buildings and told me that he had gone up there looking for me! Between the very busy street and Seattle Center he could've been hit by a car or snatched up and I never would've known it. I am so thankful to God that he was okay. The lady who found him had looked outside and heard him calling for me, that's how she even knew he was out there. Whoever she is, I'm so thankful for her as well.

Needless to say, I cried off and on about it the rest of the day. First, I had to tell my friends when I went to homegroup what had happened. Then MC came to homegroup later and I had to tell him. Yeah, I cried all night. I know I'm not the first person to lose child. To be honest, that's not even the first time I've lost Bubba. (I don't do it on purpose!) But all I could think of was "what kind of mother am I?" I guess all I can ask for is that it won't leave any permanent damage on his psyche. I really hate to give him anything else to unload at therapy!

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