I could tell by the fine paper, guests, and location (a beautiful and historic hotel downtown) that this was a high-brow event. As a mostly-stay-at-home mother, my wardrobe is the opposite of high-brow. I refuse to ruin decent clothes with the snot-kisses and jam-hugs of motherhood. I had nothing appropriate for fine dinner with the wealthy empty-nesters of our city. Shopping lay in my immediate future.

Ah, shopping! Snow sprinkling, carols ringing, and Christmas-red ornament trees glistening.

tree topiaryUntil my little guy wrapped his arms around one of those conical trees and kissed it. Nothing like a toddler to ruin my Norman Rockwell moment.

“How cute” cooed the store employee handing out coupons (only good if you have a store charge card) as I extracted him from the fragile decor.

I took a deep cleansing breath, muttered, “Ready, set, go!” and dove into the racks like a robot on fast-forward. Seconds later, arms loaded with anything remotely likely to fit, I stopped.

[Where was that boy? How could he disappear so fast?]

I called his name.

Nothing.

[Dang it. Why won’t he ever answer me when I call?]

lightning mcqueen snow boots

The light-up feature is supposed to make the child easier to find.

I crawled on my hands and knees, searching under the hems for Lightning McQueen light-up snowboots. I even used my stern You’re-In-Trouble-Now voice.

Nothing.

[Crap. He’s really gone this time.]

“Have you seen a little boy in a red coat and Lightning McQueen snowboots?” I began asking shoppers and employees.

Two women joined me dissecting banks of clothes, hoping he was playing hide-and-seek inside the suit coats and Christmas sweaters.

No boy.

Maybe he decided to kiss another ornament tree. I knew the employee at the entrance would remember him. She called a floor manager over, while I checked the racks near the doors.

Then, I heard a voice over the loudspeaker.

“Attention, shoppers. We have a Code Adam*. We’re looking for a little boy wearing a red coat and Lightning McQueen snow boots.”

[FanTAStic. Another one for the “experiences I never dreamed I’d have” list.]

I heard him before he appeared, describing the Spiderman watch he wanted me to buy. He was strutting between two men in dress shirts, ties, and bemused smiles, two floor supervisors, and the stock girl who found  him “shopping” in the kids toys. Unbelievable. He had them all wrapped around his little finger.

“Code Adam canceled.”

P.S. I did find a jacket and shirt to wear to the dinner, and even got it home without one trace of snot.

*I have to thank J.C. Penney for implementing this procedure for finding lost children. I was impressed and incredibly thankful for how quickly they found my son.

What adventures have you had shopping with toddlers?

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