That moment of sheer panic when…..

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… lose sight of your child in a crowded store.

My oldest was off to the Zoo for a birthday with a friend so we took advantage of only having two kids and took a trip to IKEA in Dublin. We love IKEA and having just recently finished a house extension there have been numerous trips.

We try to go early so that we avoid the crowds but with getting my oldest ready for the party and heading off it was close to 12 noon when we got there. We took a trip around the showroom level. The kids love exploring the make shift rooms and weaving in and out of the furniture and playing at the occasional play stations.

We stopped for a bite to eat before heading downstairs to the Marketplace. We put our 2-year-old in the trolley as it was busy. Half way around she asked to get out. We let her. At one point she ran ahead of us and we called her back and told her not to run off. We carried on. My husband saw her dart on ahead of us again and he was veering off the marked pathway to look at some items when he said “Where is Zoe”. I didn’t know. It was a moment of sheer panic.

After about 10 seconds trying to gather ourselves and ensuring we weren’t going to lose a second child we headed off in separate directions. Abandoning the trolley I back-tracked from where we had come from and my husband and son went on forward.

Within 30 seconds I found her. Standing, crying and a small group of people starting to gather to look at this lone child crying helplessly. It was a moment of relief. I heard one of the people say “it’s okay, here she is” and I scooped her up in my arms.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /


The group of people vanished. Like the end of a flash mob. One lady said kindly “It can happen so easily in places like this”. I don’t think I even acknowledged anyone. I’m not even sure whether I needed to say thank you to anyone but I didn’t so sorry to anyone if I did and thank you!

I thought I might cry. I’m still not sure whether with relief or shame. I felt like such a bad mammy.

The whole incident went on probably a minute. No more than two but my heart was in my mouth. My heart was beating so fast and about 5 million thoughts went through my head in that short space of time. The worst one of all “what if we never find her”. Yes, that lady was right, it can happen so easily.

It really hasn’t happened before. Well, we have had 10 seconds in a supermarket once but there was no panic, no group of people and we were about 6 feet away but our 2-year-old couldn’t see us and she panicked as opposed to us missing her.

This was the first time I really felt like “oh my god I have lost my child”.

I now realise why IDME was set up. I have never gotten one but they look pretty cool. You can store contact details in a wristband in case your child gets lost. Thankfully today it didn’t come to that but if it had the IKEA staff would have been able to contact me easily. A small bit of peace of mind.

That said my daughter got a fright too and maybe, just maybe has learnt a lesson not to run away from mammy and daddy. Here’s hoping!


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