For 10 minutes Bella was lost at an art museum this past weekend.
- Minute 1 – My wife comes to me after a dragon dance performance and asks me if I’ve seen Bella. I look at her and shrug, thinking… “wasn’t she with you?” My wife, looking irritated with my answer, walks back into the courtyard where the dragon dance performance just ended.
- Minute 2 – I casually start looking through the crowd thinking, Bella’s somewhere in this crowd. There was a huge crowd that day at the art museum because of the Chinese new year festivities.
- Minute 3 – I can’t find her in the crowd that is filing out of the courtyard. Not really worried at this point, confident that it’s only a matter of time before she comes running out.
- Minute 4 – My brother comes out of the courtyard and asks me if I’ve seen A (5 years old). I tell him no, and last I saw A, he was with Bella watching the dragon dance performance. You see, our brother-in-law (actually my brother’s wife’s brother) had taken the two kids to watch the dragon dance and we can’t find any of them. At least the kids are with an adult, right?
- Minute 5 – Said brother-in-law comes out of the courtyard and guess what he asks me, where’s Bella and A? Are you kidding me? So a bit of panic sets in now! I’m wheeling Maya all around the museum looking for them thinking the worst at this point. But still believing they are still in the building.
- Minute 6 to 10 – Everything is a blur, I’m walking through the crowd, a friend of ours joins in the search for Bella and A. We’ve got about 6 adults looking. I see a security guard and think of asking him to put out a building wide announcement, but I decide not to. Now, I don’t know why I didn’t… I think I was in denial. Bella wasn’t lost… she wasn’t… at least that’s what I thought to myself. And if she wasn’t lost… why get the security involved? Now I know I probably should have talked to the security guard.
- Minute 11 – Relief. Bella and A are found walking back from the car (car was parked at a parking lot about a block from the museum) to the museum! I give her a great big hug and ask where she was? Basically, they were watching the dragon dance, uncle __ moved away from his spot behind them to get a better view of the dance. Bella and A looked back to see if uncle __ was still with them; they didn’t see him and panicked. They thought they had been left behind, so they started looking through the whole museum. And since everyone was busy watching the performance, Bella and A didn’t find any of the adults in our group. So they went to the car. They waited there for a couple minutes before Bella and A decided to come back to the museum.
Part of being a parent is preparing your child for situations like this. I thought we explained to Bella enough times to find a “trusted” adult if she were ever lost. “Trusted” being a policeman, fireman, store manager or cashier, a security guard or the people at the information desk. We thought she understood. It’s time like this, when they are tested, that you find out if they really got the message. We’ll keep drilling in the message… that’s all we can do, and hope it gets through and if this ever happens again (I will do everything in my power to not let this happen again) she’ll go straight to the security guards. We are 100% confident, well maybe very confident… we hope.