Monday, October 29, 2007

A post about shoes, lost children and grace.

This morning the weekids and I took an inpromtu trip to the mall. Clara had ruined her white Robeez at the Pumpkin Farm this weekend, and I decided to continue my quest for the elusive brown ones I have been coveting for fall. Clara feels the same way about hard soled shoes as she does about hair bows. They are off her feet and flung across the room before I can even pick up her diaper bag.

So Ben, Clara and I headed off to the mall with promises of playtime and lunch at "Old McDonalds" if they would just oblige me my errands. We hit Norstroms first and, while we still did not manage to find the pink and brown Robeez, we ended up with these shoes instead, which may just be the cutest things ever.

Notice the polka-dots. These shoes were made for us. And they have soft soles so everyone was happy.


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Then, after a romp at the playplace, we headed to the foodcourt for lunch. It was this point that things started to deteriorate.

The line was long and I stood there for quite a while trying to pacify a Clara who saw other people were eating while she was not. She sat crying in her stroller while frantically making the sign for "more food, more food" to everyone around her. That girl is passionate about eating. Can't imagine where she gets that from. By the time I finally ordered our food, I was frazzled and irritated. I stepped aside to wait and turned around to ask Ben to hold his milk.

Ben?

I didn't see him. The panic wasn't immediate. I glanced around expecting to see him standing just out of view behind another stroller. But after a moment of searching my stomach turned upside down. He was nowhere to be found near the McDonalds or any of the attached restaurants. I realized I couldn't remember exactly when the last time I had noticed him standing beside me in line. I had been preoccupied with his sister. I grabbed Clara's stroller, with her still whimpering, and started combing the area while calling his name. A minute ticked by, and then two, and suddenly I was in a full out frenzy. It was the first time in my life as a parent that I actually feared someone might have taken one of my children.

And then I spotted him...sitting contentedly on one of those mechanical cars that you feed coins into. The whole episode couldn't have lasted more than 3 or 4 minutes. But still my relief was overwhelming. I can't imagine what it must feel like to have your child missing for an hour, or a lifetime. Tears stung my eyes while I ran and scooped him up hugging and scolding him in intervals, while he squirmed in confusion at my manic behavior.

I headed back to McDonalds while pushing Clara in the stroller with one hand while keeping a pincer grip on Ben with the other. We picked up our food and I was forced to let go of Ben to carry it. Giving Ben a stern command to hold on to the stroller we started shuffling, mom balancing bags, cups and stroller and attached boy, towards the mob of people and tables at the center of the foodcourt. At this point, Clara managed to finally wiggle her way free of her stroller and slide halfway out onto the floor. I, of course didn't notice this until I started running over her. I thought about it for just a second and transferred our food and drinks into the stroller, picked up a writhing, wailing baby and continued the awkward migration towards the relative sanctuary of food and seats.

Once we were seated the children settled happily in to a greasy munch-fest . They had failed to substitute apples for fries in Ben's Happy Meal as I had requested, but I certainly wasn't going to attempt the trek back to rectify the situation so fries it was. The weekids at least, were thrilled with their fried windfall.
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Sitting there catching my breath I started hearing bits of conversation from the table near mine.
"Bless her heart, she sure has her hands full"
- Suddenly mortified, I realized they were talking about me. I covertly checked out the women talking. There were three of them. Moms if I had to guess, but with no children anywhere to be seen.
"Yeah, I remember that, having two so little, so close together. Those years were really, really, hard."
Awww, well at least they are being kind after watching my less than graceful trip past them to my seat. Mommy grace. Gotta love it.
"Yeah, I was about crazy then too. If I hadn't asked for help eventually, I think they would have had to take me away somewhere to wear a white jacket."
Wait! What? Crazy too? Oh, I'm not that bad. And I don't think they even saw the lost kid incident. Besides I think I have moved past the white jacket stage. I actually enjoy my kids now. Well most of the time.
They talked on after that going into their own stories about their children being young and I eventually tuned them out. But my face was still burning. I know I should have just been happy to have witnessed such a wonderful of example of the grace I am always preaching about, but I just couldn't get over the humiliation of needing to be the object of it.

18 comments:

slouching mom said...

I don't think Clara could be any more delicious than in those jeans and shoes with that grin on her face.

I'm enchanted!

Once I was trying to carry Jack (he was Clara's age) while pushing a recalcitrant Ben along on a downtown street, and all three of us collapsed in a tangled heap of library books, coffee (bye, coffee), and limbs.

It was MORTIFYING.

Chrissy said...

First of all, those shoes were totally worth the pain.

And second, OHHH, you poor thing. I have been there. Once at the mall I forgot to buckle Katie in her stroller, and while I was ordering the food, she slid down in an escape attempt and got hopelessly wedged between the tray and the bottom of the seat. I stood there trying to pry her up or down, with her screaming, the other two kids trying to "help",and the entire crowd of people in business suits just gaping as if they were ready to call CPS at any moment.

How sweet of those moms to have empathy for you, (aside from the crazy comment.) Wonder why they didn't come and help you?

Chrissy said...

I forgot to comment on losing Ben: I would have had a total screaming crying "DON't EVER DO THAT AGAIN" meltdown right there in the food court. Good job keeping it together.

Veronica Mitchell said...

That last line is priceless, and may sum up an uncomfortable amount of my spiritual life.

Chaotic Joy said...

Yeah, Chrissy...afterwards I thought the same thing. Since they obviously watched me struggle to get the food and my children to the table, it would have been nice if one of them would have popped up to help me. But oh well, at least their words were kind. (ya know, except for the crazy comment)

ALthough, maybe they should learn to speak a bit more softly.

Don and Lynn said...

Gosh, I was kinda wondering why someone couldn't help you. I get that all the time when pushing the boys in the side by side stroller through a broken "automatic" door. I always manage to find THAT door! Lots of people staring and smiling at the "cute twins." But, nonetheless, just watching as I struggle with the stupid freakin' door! Taylor used to pull the disappearing act a lot when she was Ben's age. She liked to hide in the clothes racks. We all know that horrible feeling when you can't eyeball you child. Oh, it stinks! I think I would have had to get a large order of fries and a milkshake after that stress!

Lori said...

Well, those shoes are ADORABLE!! Much cuter than the brown and pink Robeez.

I would like to think that I would have absolutely popped out of my chair to help you get your tray to your table. In fact, I would be ashamed of myself if I didn't. Grace is well and good, but grace in action is much, much better...

I'm so relieved Ben wasn't lost for long. That is such an awful, awful feeling.

Chaotic Joy said...

Lori-more grace in action would indeed make the world a better place.

nutmeg said...

So many things I feel I must say, but let me start with you had me at "shoes".

1. Those shoes are the cutest shoes I've ever seen. Can a boy wear them? Do they come in a woman's size 6?

2. Misplacing a child has happened to me - too many times to recount - and I feel your pain. There's just nothing like it.

3. McDonald's is healthy.

4. I know that food court shuffle all too well.

5. If one more little old lady tells me I have my hands full, I WILL need a white coat!

Beck said...

There's something just so ABSOLUTELY terrifying about not knowing where your kid is. I have BEEN there.
And whenever I take my children out in public, people tell me I have my hands full. Um, what?

Kyla said...

Cute shoes!

And OMG! That panic. It settles into me in a flash. BubTar ducks around a clothing rack while my back is turned and suddenly the world is on fire. I am just so glad Ben was located lickety split.

bubandpie said...

What is with the substitution of fries? I always order the apples, and I'd say we get fries maybe 20% of the time. They never sub out the grilled cheese or the milk, though. Is it a fry-addiction conspiracy?

Lori said...

I just wanted to pop back and say that I love the new photo on your sidebar. I cannot believe how BIG Brandon is! You really do have a man-child on your hands, don't you?

Your kids are all so darn cute!

Christine said...

oh joy.

i once lost my son when he was 2 at an apple orchard near a BUSY road. That was a HORRIFYING 5 minutes.



{{hugs}}

karen said...

Those shoes? Totally worth it! I wish I could have been there to give you a hand without it seeming like "help"...if the strange women had offered a hand, it might just have made you feel worse to have been viewed as unable to cope? Their words are true - we all have been there and *I* think you manage with more grace than most!

spaz said...

To be pitied is not fun. I'd rather be envied.

Veronica is very wise. Amen sista!

thirtysomething said...

Now those shoes are the EPITOME of cute. I love them.
What an episode at the McDonalds/Mall...there is nothing more frightening than turning around and not seeing your child. Glad that turned out ok.

AND there are few things more maddening than when folks sit around and comfortably chat while NOT helping, about "how it is so hard to have two (or more) little ones..and oh, my, and she certainly has her hands full", and then come the pitiful looks, and gazes from these people that could wipe the white off rice. Makes me mad, I tell you! I hear it all the time, as a single mom, b/c everywhere we go it is such a show and spectacle with stroller, tote bags, sippy cups falling onto floors, pacifiers being lost and searched for, children ARGUING NONSTOP, and me appearing in need of a stiff drink by 11:00 am in Target.
I feel ya, hon. Boy do I.

painted maypole said...

polka dots! :) love them. of course.

I lost the May Queen in a department store once. I was terrified. very kind people helped me, and I remembered that you want to tell the staff right away because they keep any kids from exiting the store until they find yours. She had made her way to the complete other side of the store, and when a guy who worked there brought her to me told me she wasn't scared at all. I was crying. of course.