Last Saturday, my family and I were just entering the Factory Outlet Store at Gurney Plaza when we saw a Chinese lady rushing out of FOS calling a name. Another lady came out and then an elderly lady followed – judging by their frantic expressions, they were looking for a missing child.
While the two ladies looked around outside, the first lady pleaded distraughtly into her cellphone,
“Honey! Honey! Where are you? Please come here, honey! Where is the boy? We can’t find the boy!”
I guessed that it was a Chinese-Caucasian boy. We decided to ask the other Chinese lady the boy’s age and his clothing to help in the search. A man in crutches also came up to ask questions. The boy was about 4.
We told her to alert the Gurney Plaza security about his disappearance. Luckily, one FOS staff could direct the mother to the ground floor Information Counter.
The Caucasian father soon reached FOS and the Mom yelled out to him to go to the Information Counter. Then, she and the elderly lady (probably her Mum) rushed down the escalator. No idea where they were going…
The other Chinese lady (presumably the aunt) stayed behind with her two sons in FOS. When we talked to her again, she was very sure the boy was still in FOS because:
a) there’s only one entrance and
b) she’d just seen the boy a few minutes ago sitting on the wooden bench.
We suggested checking out the dressing rooms, the store room and even the storage cupboards in case he was playing hide-and-seek. She said FOS staff had already helped them check.
She and her sons continued poking through the clothes rails in FOS while we went about our browsing and kept an eye out for the boy. Since the atmosphere was so charged and my own boy was getting hyperactive in FOS, we decided to leave.
Then, the two boys emerged with the missing child who clung to the Chinese lady. He looked very pale and was near to tears. He kept saying, “Papa, Papa…”
She said that he was crouching in fear in the middle of one of the clothes rails!
First, the grandmother arrived at the scene, hugging the boy, crying and yelling in Chinese,
“Where were you? You frightened me to death!!!”
This continued for a while and the boy broke down and started to shout.
Then, the tearful mother appeared and did the exact same thing as the grandmother but she was even LOUDER. By this time, the boy was clearly traumatised because he was crying, shouting and hitting out at his mother.
Finally, the father appeared and made the smartest move – he picked up the boy in his arms and proceeded to move away from the FOS entrance where a small crowd had gathered to watch. We were on our way down the escalator…
As a mother, I was nearly in tears myself when I saw the tearful mother reunited with her little boy. I’d nearly lost my own little boy when he slipped out to gaze at the display window – unnoticed by 3 adults!!!
What did we learn from this?
1. NO shopping or sales is worth leaving your child to roam around on his own or under the care of other children. An adult MUST always be in charge of watching the child.
2. NEVER leave the shop where you were all in when the child goes missing. The aunt was right – the boy WAS in FOS all the time and he was actually frightened when he couldn’t see or hear his Mum, his grandmother or his aunt anymore. That was why he stayed inside.
3. I thought the FOS management could be more helpful in the search i.e. switch off the loud, blaring music and perhaps let the mother/father use the PA system to call the child to come out?
4. CONTROL YOUR EMOTIONS when you find your child. I can imagine that the mom was so scared she couldn’t breath or think (I know how it feels) when she couldn’t find the little boy.
But, the little boy was even more frightened at losing his mother and probably confused at why his grandmother and mother were crying and yelling at him. Luckily, the father was the steady rock and did the right thing. Maybe that’s why the little boy kept asking for his Papa!
When I told Hubby this story, he could only say, “Women who want to shop should not take a young child with them.” I have to agree 100% with him.
After missing him once, I now shop when my little boy is in the kindy or is safely under the care of his father who will bring him to the amusement center until I’m done. Or, I shop online. There is really NO way to shop with an active child!
What a drama. That mother is REALLY lucky to have found back her child. What do you think?