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DS aged 4 just got "lost" for 5 mins in supermarket

(31 Posts)
CurlyhairedAssassin Thu 02-Sep-10 12:44:27

I left him looking at the fish at the fish counter and told him to stay there as I was just going to get some packaged salmon which was a few paces away. I turned back and he was gone. Not in any of the aisles nearby. Cue mild panic arising.....I shouted his name really loudly a few times and expected him to come running, or shout me, but he didnt.

Was getting more panicked by this time remembering that poor little girl in Germany years back who disappeared in a supermarket and has never been seen since. I was also thinking "God, now if there's some wierdo perv witnessing this, they now know my son's name and if they find him first and use his name he'll assume they're safe to go off with."

I told a couple of staff members who went to alert security at the door in case he'd wandered out. By this time people were starting to stare at me running up and down the aisles looking worried sick and shouting his name, and a lovely lady shopper came and said "have you checked the toy aisle - that's where mine have always been if they wander off? I'll go and see if he's there."

Eventually after what seemed like ages but was probably only about 5 mins after he'd gone missing, one of the members of staff motioned to me to come down to the tills, and there he was with the lady shopper who'd suggested I check the toy aisle.

Such relief!!!! Apparently he'd gone looking at the Nintendo DS's. hmm After thanking the ladies who'd helped find him, and letting my legs return to their normal unjelly like state (!), I told him that he shouldn't wander off like that as it was very dangerous.

"But I couldnt see you so I went to look at the DSs."

He obviously had no plan of what he was going to do after that if he still couldn't see me. And absolutely no awareness of the dangers of wandering off on his own.

DS1 was never like that - he was born sensible and stuck to my side like glue in shops etc at that age. He just NEVER would have wandered off to a far part of a shop to look at something just cos he felt like it. DS2 is too big to sit in the trolley now, but is naturally bounding about with energy and will never walk if he can run - short of putting him on a lead I don't know what I can do. He just doesn't seem to see the DANGER of getting separated from me, he thinks he's invincible I think! After he went missing today I tried telling him that a nasty man could have seen he was on his own and taken him away and smacked him hard every day and he would never see me and the rest of the family again, and he just said "But there are no nasty men in Tesco, mummy!"

How on earth do you get a child who is the opposite of sensible to be aware of "stranger danger"?!??

Another example of "opposite to sensible": the other day we were in the park and I told him to mind the nettles which we were walking past because they would sting if he touched them. "They won't" he said, and put his hand slowly to them all the while staring me in the eye defiantly. He DID touch one even though I was telling him not to, and either it wasn't a nettle (looked v like one) or it was part of the leaf which didn't have any stinging hairs on. So he just said "See - didn't sting me!"

He just has no sense of self-preservation!

ShinyAndNew Thu 02-Sep-10 12:48:48

That little girl was from my home town sad

Dd1 is a wanderer. I have told her if she ever gets lost in a supermarket she is to go to the security desk and stay there until I come and find her. She is not to leave the shop with anyone, even if they know her name or work in the shop.

It sunk in. The last time the security guard asked her to go with him to the tills and they would shout for me on the microphones and she told him "No. I have to stay here if I get lost and mummy will come and find me"

She is 6 though, so a bit older.

CurlyhairedAssassin Thu 02-Sep-10 12:56:15

How sad Shiny....I just can't imagine it.

DS1 (Mr Sensible) was told by me at age 3 all about going to the security desk or the tills etc (what you describe) if he ever got lost and it sunk in straight away, he understood why he shouldn't wander off and anyway, he just said "Mummy, I will never leave where you are anyway, so it won't happen." He has never wandered - ever.

But DS2 would do it all the time if he could - I never knew there were kids that did that!!! I will definitely explain to him about them being able to get me on the microphone if he goes to the security guard, I hadn't thought of explaining things that far. Thanks.

Hopefully the "nasty man" thing I told him has scared him a little bit becuase he said "Wouldn't I ever be able to go to Drayton Manor again?" "No, never, and a nasty man would smack you every day so that you cried." And he went quiet. Then he said "Don't say horrible things anymore."

God, I've probably given him nightmares now! Can't win, can you, as a parent?

KurriKurri Thu 02-Sep-10 15:08:48

Oh they scare you to death when they do this don't they?, - hope you are OK now.

My Dc are grown up now, but my DS used to make bids for freedom. I'm afraid I ended up either putting him on a wrist strap or being very insistent about him holding my hand or the side of the trolley, in busy places.
(And trying as much as poss. to balance out essential shopping trips with trips to the park where he could run around and use his energy.)
He was extremely friendly and would spend his time trying to talk to other people or attaching himself to other more interesting families.

However, he did grow out of it eventually just took him a bit longer than some. I was lucky in that I had a 'bolter' first, and 'little miss sensible' second, which made it a bit

EccentricaGallumbits Thu 02-Sep-10 15:18:51

I still have nightmares about being lost in tesco when I was about 4. Mother had left me choosing crisps and then i couldn't find her. it was horrible.

haven't been able to look at beef flavour monster munch without getting flashbacks since.

CurlyhairedAssassin Thu 02-Sep-10 17:21:56

grin at beef flavour monster munch anxiety. Sorry but it just sounds funny! I'm sure it was awful though - what happened, did you go to the tills or something?

KurriKurri, I think I am going to HAVE to make him stay right with me if he just can't be trusted. Even today when we were at the checkout I told him to not move his bottom off the windowledge as I was packing, then I looked round and he'd bloody vanished again! I couldn't believe it!! I knew he'd be in the photo booth machine, which he was (and was right next to where he'd been sitting) but clearly, he won't sit still if asked, as DS1 would have.

Would a wrist strap work for a 4 and a half year old? I've only seen them on toddlers, I've never known them have to be used on school-age kids!

Maybe there is a personality type for this sort of behaviour, Kurri. DS2 is extremely friendly and sociable too and will introduce himself to all and sundry and would happily go off with a stranger, I just know he would. Yes, parks are great for burning his seemingly never-ending energy off, but that just reminded me of last week when we were in a gated playground in the park, I turned round from watching older son on climbing frame, and DS2 was going THROUGH the gate on his own, wandering off in the direction of the newer wooden assault course thing just close by. It just didn't occur to him to tell me he was going there. I really shouted, but it obviously didn't sink in if he's wandered off again today. God, he is so impulsive!!! But good to hear that they grow out of it!

SaliMali1 Thu 02-Sep-10 17:47:52

When I was about 7 or 8 my Mum and Dad left me in Safeway and had got half way home before they realised I was not in the car.

KurriKurri Thu 02-Sep-10 18:09:02

CHA -from what I remember, I did on occasion use it when DS was a bit beyond toddler age. (Or maybe I just threatened togrin), but obviously it's a fine line between trying to keep them safe and not embarrassing them. One of those flexi dog leads would really be the way to go!!

And yes I think it is a personality type of thing, DS to this day is a very friendly, sociable trusting adult, but he has learned common sense.

What about a few role playing games? maybe set up imaginary situations where he has to decide the right or wrong thing to do (talking to strangers wandering off etc.,) or possibly there are books you could get him about safety. I do remember practising these sort of things with my DS, 'what to say if a stranger comes up to you etc.,' to some effect.

That and talking about how to behave when you're out, every time you go anywhere. It's quite wearing but I think it gets through eventually. I think sometimes they get so completely absorbed in what they are doing they totally forget about you and what you've told them.

CurlyhairedAssassin Fri 03-Sep-10 09:19:30

SaliMali - shock What were you doing all that time?!

KurriKuri, yes, I think I am going to have to have a serious talk with him about it. I suppose there COULD be books that deal with it - I will have a look. And I will have to remember that he needs telling more than once about staying close.


ZZZenAgain Fri 03-Sep-10 09:21:37

it's nerve-wracking, isn't it?

Elsa123 Fri 03-Sep-10 12:28:52

I got lost in a French supermarket when I was about 5. I was distraught and a French lady came up and asked me if I'd lost my mummy- she asked in French (as you would if you were French and in French supermarket) and aged 5 I heard the word Mamam and wept 'Oui!' at her. I remember that vividly, but I don't know how long it was to be reunited, but I was terrified. I'm currently hoping that my DC1 who is currently in utero will be not be a bolter although I love the description! So OP, no I obviously have no advice, just sympathy!

CurlyhairedAssassin Fri 03-Sep-10 16:57:11

Elsa, I'm very impressed by the way you handled that situation at a mere 5 years old!

God, that must be terrifying enough in this country to be separated from your parents (and upset about it, unlike my DS2!), but when it's in a foreign country, different language etc - doubly so!

Yes, I am liking the terms "bolter" and "wanderer". Sounds like a football team though!

LittleSilver Fri 03-Sep-10 19:37:19

DD1 (4) ran off in King's Rd Marks and Sparks last year and hid under clothing rail. Now, I saw her do it in corner of my eye, sort of acknowledged it and carried on looking at bras blush(does this all the time in our locsl town, which is a LOT more provincial and a LOT smaller than London. In fact it only has charity shops) 1 min later start calling for her, no answer. Nothing. I start panicking, end up being very un-English and diving into queue to get assistants attention. She runs to security guard, who stutters "Oh my GOD!", before putting calls out. Two minutes later a lady comes up to me gesturing at DD1 who has crawled out giggling from clothign rail. I embarassed her forever I expect by racing up to her and bursting into (loud noisy snotty) tears. OP, you poor poor thing.

Effjay Fri 03-Sep-10 19:47:05

I lost my DS in Edinburgh Airport when he was 2.6. It was only for about 5 mins but it was truly awful and an experience I'll never forget. We were going through security and also had DD who was a baby. It involved the full rigamarole of baby out of pushchaire, all coats off, all shoes off, belts off, fold pushchair to go through scanner, put the whole lot back together and DS just ran off, full speed, into a massive crowd. DH found him 5 mins later watching the planes, completely unfazed. Horrible.

Apparently, when I was the same age, I was with my Mum in Boots on Princes Street and did the same - just ran off. I ran out the store, down the street, crossed a busy side street and was found my a nice lady who walked me back towards Boots. My Mum was very traumatised and still talks about it these days.

It must be in the genes!

catinthehat2 Fri 03-Sep-10 19:56:44

We had something like this and ended up practicing "If you can't see me, I can't see you" in another shop.

It does not occur to them that at times it's impossible for them to be seen by you - they assume you can see them all the time.

What about teaching him who it's OK to approach if he does get lost in a shop again - ie can he spot a shop assistant/ security guard/ mum with children or whoever your favoured types of pepole are?

sorrento56 Fri 03-Sep-10 19:59:18

It is horrible when this happens. We lost our 4 year old once for about 10 minutes and it took a long time for us all to feel better.

KarmaAngel Fri 03-Sep-10 22:42:45

Oh how horrible for you OP. I lost dd2 (2.5 at the time) in Primark for about 3 minutes. Was a truly awful experience. It was early morning so quite empty. I had just paid at the till and was putting away my purse. She had a tendency to go ahead of me and walk in between the clothes. I saw her bolt off and thought she was in clothes in front of me. She wasn't! I panicked started calling out her name louder and louder, getting more upset. When a woman said she's over there by the window. She was in the window display watching all the people walk past.

CurlyhairedAssassin Fri 03-Sep-10 23:23:30

God, it's a relief to know this is actually quite a common experience! I was starting to think there was something wrong with my son!! They just seem so oblivious to the whole situation, don't they, once you've found them? DS2 genuinely just can't understand what he did wrong.

I tell you what, I am going to confess now that in the past whenever I've read about toddlers/children who've tragically ended up drowning in a garden pond, or getting abducted because they've wandered off - I've always thought "Well, their parent just can't have been watching them properly."

After yesterday's experience, I take it all back - it's taught me a lesson, I tell you! Some kids DO just bolt and don't sense danger at all.

TheNextMrsDepp Fri 03-Sep-10 23:33:22

I lost dd1 on a packed beach once when she was about 4; I can't tell you how scary that was. One minute she was there, the next she wasn't. I was running frantically between the sea and the carpark, literally hyperventilating with panic.

Luckily my mum was there and able to look after ds1 and dd2, and a lot of people got up to help. Eventually someone ran over to tell me that there was a little girl matching her description up at the lifeguard station, and there she was, happy as larry, wrapped in a towel looking through the telescope with the lifeguard to see if she could spot me. It took me a long time to calm down; I'm getting palpitations just remembering. I can't believe how quickly she vanished.

HarderToKidnap Sat 04-Sep-10 08:09:46

My mum lost my brother in Thorpe Park in the 80s. We spent a long time looking for him, the park was closed, the police were called in, people were being stopped from leavinf. After he had been gone two hours preparations were being made to dredge the lake. My mum was hysterical, we were being escorted round by police constantly looking for him. Suddenly a little voice piped up "would you like some candyfloss Mummy?" and there he was on a candyfloss stall sitting on an employees lap. "He's been helping me!" she said, idiot.

We carried on the day and everytime we went into one of the shows he would say "MUMMY I HAVE SEEN THIS!". He'd also been on a ride. He'd literally taken himself off round the park!

FlorenceMattell Sat 04-Sep-10 08:34:33

We lost our 7 year old, for what seemed like ages probably 5 - 10 minutes, camping last year.
She had left childrens playgound, with a little friend, fallen over, and gone into their tent (which she had been told not to do), to get a plaster.
My point - sorry rambling was that when I tried to explain that not all adults are nice/kind she would not believe me. She just kept saying but the lady was nice.
In the end I had to remind her about Madeleine McCann etc.
She has always been a bolter and yes did use hand rein in shops once when she was 3.
After she had ran out of a shop. She screamed and screamed because she didnt want it on, and whole shop looked at me.
But after one time she learned lesson and stayed close in shops.
Hope your little boy stays close now smile

CurlyhairedAssassin Sat 04-Sep-10 09:59:50

shock shock shock OMG HarderToKidnap!!!! That's just awful, your poor mum. Poor everyone!I just can't imagine what you all must have felt like when they talked about dredging the lake. And he's just sitting there oblivious! OMG OMG!!!!

I hoped they sacked the unbelievably thick candyfloss stall person. Unless he'd only been sitting there a minute or two?

SaorAlba Sat 04-Sep-10 10:21:27

My sisters are twins and were bolters when they were wee. When they were about 3 they were in woolworths with my mum and both run in opposite directions. One ran out the main door and the other to the back of the shop. My mum had to make a snap decision so chased the one who ran out the door first as she was in most danger.

My idea of hell though. After some months of this including them both running into the street naked in the snow and being brought back by the postman my mum managed to convince them about bad people and they became the opposite - unwilling to ne out of my parents sight. They have grown into very shy teenagers and still find it difficult to talk to strange adults, even at 14. I suppose it's difficult to strike the balance.

Bumblingbovine Sat 04-Sep-10 10:34:02

I thought this was normal I only have one ds and I have lost count of the times I've lost him for a few minutes in the aisles of the supermarket.

He refuses to stay with me and I have to actually hold his hand and drag him round with me (which he generally wriggles and pulls away from). If he does run off he is always to be found completely absorbed with the toys or magazines.

In fact we now he is older (he is 5.5 years old) have an agreement that he can look at the toys/magazies while I pay so he stays with more while I shop. Also we did the sticker and rewards thing for a while to re-inforce him not wandering off which helped a bit but tbh I spent years avoiding shopping with him unless I had to.

The weird thing is that if he realises he has lost me (i.e when the toys have lost interest for him or he can't find them) he starts screaming really loudly for me so I can generally find him with no trouble ! he doen't learn though !

Oh and please not sermons about "involving him" to stop him running off. I have tried that it doesn't work. My sister tried it once when we were shopping together (two adults one child) and came out of the shop with a slightly shocked look on her facing "well that was an experience!"

babelove717 Fri 06-Feb-15 05:26:12

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