Thursday, July 25, 2013

All It Takes Is a Second...

It was a typical late Wednesday afternoon where I woke up from a nap and realized that my son's birthday was the next day and I had no presents for him because, well, I forgot. In my defense, we'd already had his birthday party... No? Not flying?

Okay, so because I suck sometimes and I forgot that his birthday was the next day, I took the boys to Target in our mall with the hope that I could sneak some presents in the cart without Connor noticing. Nate was working for the rest of the night, so I was on my own. I enlisted Ethan as my partner-in-crime, explaining to him that we needed to get presents without Connor seeing, so the plan was, when I found a present at the store, I would whisper to Ethan to take Connor around the corner so I could stash something in the cart. He was on board.

We got to Target. I found a Lego thing for Connor that I thought he might like, and asked Ethan in a hushed tone if he thought Connor would want it. He whispered back yes, then as Connor's back was turned, I slipped it into the cart. Success! Then Ethan yelled out right in front of Connor, "Mom, do you need me to take Connor around the corner so you can put his Lego present in the cart?"

Way to go, Secret Agent Ethan!

I just rolled my eyes and said, "No, thanks, I'm good!"

We strolled through a few aisles, the cacophony of the boys my background music, then I casually looked around to do my "kid count." I had two... where was the third? 

I peeked around the corner, didn't see Brandon, and I knew. This was a "situation." I called his name, no response, looked at the next aisle, no kid, called his name again. Nothing.

I asked the other two where Brandon was and they said they didn't know. I told them to stay with the cart (carts just slow you down) in my "don't even think of disobeying me or you will die" crazy mom voice and started sprinting down the main aisle, frantically looking down each aisle I passed, my head swiveling like I was possessed, my mouth spewing my son's name.

Nothing.

I darted back to my other two kids and the cart, grabbed it and them because christ, I didn't need my wallet ripped off or the other two going missing in the process, and started looking down more parts of the store and calling Brandon's name. It started pushing into my mind that someone might have actually kidnapped him, and the realization of what his fate would be was so horrible that my mind kept rejecting the possibility. NO.

NO NO NO.

Eventually, I came across a security guy and told him that I couldn't find my two-year-old son and he started saying something into his mic. Maybe "Code Bullseye!" or "Code Red!" ...who really knows. I started giving the description of what Brandon was wearing, and apparently I was yelling it because some woman who was like 200 feet away started yelling back that she thought she just saw him out in the mall.

I took off like a wave of zombies was chasing me, sprinting for the entrance to the mall. I swear to God, if I had encountered some scrubby pedophile creep leading him out of the mall, I was primed to tear him apart with my bare hands.

As I was running out, I saw two relatively freaked-out looking women walking my son in, one holding his hand. I ran up to them, thanking them for bringing him back in and the one holding his hand told me that she's a mom, too, and totally understands. She correctly figured that since he was wandering OUT of Target that INSIDE Target was where he belonged, so she brought him back.

Brandon was scared out of his mind. His lips were tugging down at the corners and he was doing his best not to cry. He just wanted to go to the play area, and apparently thought he'd head there on his own. I comforted him and gave thanks that he was safe, while also reminding him that that is why you always stay with mom.

So, I just lost two years of my life. But that's okay, because parents are invincible. We can take it all in the name of our children.

After everything settled down, I took the boys to the play area, where Ethan picked up a discarded Band-Aid because Jesus Christ, it has Despicable Me on it! "LOOK MOM! DESPICABLE ME!"

Oh hey great, can you drop the puss- and who-knows-what-covered used Band-Aid, please?

While I was riding the Awesome Train of Motherhood, I noticed that Connor still had stickers plastered all over his face. Oh, why did he have stickers all over his face? Because before we even left the house, he and Ethan got into Ethan's coveted sticker stash, and Connor plastered them there in his excitement at having rare, unfettered access to it. And because I am an amazing mother, I didn't give a shit and let him out in public.

By the time I took this photo, he had sweated off half of them. ...Yeah...


Uh, you have blemishes on your face... That Proactiv vending machine (wtf?) over your right shoulder is calling your name, there, little guy.

So as usual, the MotherhoodADIM family had another great outing. WINNING AT PARENTING.

That night, after the boys were asleep, I peeked in on Brandon and my skin tingled as I watched him sleep, thinking about the different outcome the night could have had. And to every parent who has experienced the soul-crushing grief of your child never coming home again, my entire being aches for you.

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