Just when you think you’ve got this parenting thing down, life throws you another curve ball. I was at a PTA meeting/luncheon on Wednesday, hosted by someone else on the board. The PTA board was eating delicious soup and salad, finished off by some yummy ice cream cake. My girls were just about ready to come home with me; the movie they had been watching had ended, after all. But then I started an important conversation with a couple other ladies. It turned into about a fifteen minute conversation. My five-year old was playing with toys, waiting for me. I finished, turned to go, and could not find my two-year-old.
I assumed she’d been playing with toys. But no, she wasn’t with her sister. I sheepishly asked the hostess if I could poke around up stairs. She acted like I shouldn’t have even asked, so I schlepped up the stairs, certain I would find my wayward child in a child’s bedroom.
I opened the bedroom doors; no two-year old. I began calling out her name; no response. Still couldn’t find her. I opened every single door upstairs except one that was locked. It was behind a bathroom, so I assumed it was a locked linen closet and continued on my search.
After going back down stairs, I returned, my voice rising higher and higher. By this time, the ladies still left helped me search. I started to panic, thinking she’d slipped out when one of the other ladies left. I checked my van. I scanned the neighborhood streets one way while my hostess scanned them the other way.
I returned to the house in a completely panicked state. I broke down and started to cry. My friend who had stayed in the house just hugged me and said, “It’s time to pray. It will be OK.” Though I’d said a few silent prayers in my head, she and I each sent our own pleas up to heaven, mine getting more fervent and frightened by the second.
I returned upstairs and called out her name. This time, I heard something. It came from the locked door. Behind the door turned out to be a bathtub, not a linen closet and a two-year-old who is far too good at playing hide-and-seek. Her sibling have taught her not to make a peep while hiding. She learned.
She wasn’t crying when I found her. I was the only one with tears down my face. As I silently thanked my Heavenly Father for helping me to find her, I couldn’t help but wonder why I’d lost her again.
Do I need to be more vigilant? Yep. Absolutely. But, I think maybe I’ve lost her twice now because losing her for a brief while makes me realize just how much I love her, despite her mischief. Just hours before she had climbed up on the kitchen counter, got scissors out of the cupboard and snipped the ribbons and strings holding several of our irreplaceable Christmas ornaments. She’d also drawn on the wall, dumped an entire cup of milk on the carpet, and decorated her sweatshirt in ink.
But when I found her, none of those thoughts were in my mind. I simply held her close, hugged her and was grateful I had my beautiful little girl back, even if she did make a stinky diaper while she was locked in that room. I didn’t care. I simply inhaled the pungent poop perfume of my two-year old, stroked her hair, and gave thanks.