Sunday, June 15, 2008

Summer is nearly here: Do you know where your grandson is?
Apparently I don’t, at least not all the time. And I’m not alone. According to statistics I found on “,” 2,000 kids are lost every day, and at least 90% of parents will lose a child once. Summer is the most common time parents—and grandparents—are likely to lose their children—27% at amusement parks and 45% at shops or malls.
Like Target. That’s where I lost my three-year-old grandson the other day. I’d just turned my head for one second—one second!—to tell my daughter-in-law Sue that I’d watch Bradley while she finished shopping. By the time I turned back, my grandson had disappeared. Last seen: Heading down the sporting goods aisle.
I didn’t panic. I just told myself he’d turned the corner, as I sped down the aisle like a racecar driver. No sign of Bradley. My heart kicked into hyper-speed as I bolted for the toy department, certain I’d find him there. But after a thorough search of the Thomas the Train aisle, the Pirates of the Caribbean aisle, even the Barbie aisle, I knew I’d lost him.
Apparently the look of hysteria was clear on my face from twenty feet away. A clerk folding clothes in the men’s department called out, “Do you need some help?” Near tears, I nodded. “I’ve lost my grandson!” Before I could burst into real tears, the clerk clicked on a tiny intercom attached to her ear and spoke into a miniature microphone: “Code Yellow.”
In the blink of an eye (about the time it takes to lose a little boy), I was surrounded by red-vested Target employees who had been alerted to my predicament via their “walkies.” “Lock down!” another clerk said into his mic. In seconds clerks from all over the store swarmed the floor, all looking for “a three-year-old boy in an orange shirt.” Minutes passed. Still no sign of Bradley.
While clerks continued searching, I returned to the spot where I’d last seen my grandson—sporting goods. Puzzled as to how he could have disappeared so quickly, I glanced down the aisle carefully this time, finally focusing on a row of bicycles against the far wall. There, nearly hidden in the myriad tire spokes, I caught a glimpse of bright orange. I moved closer, straining to see between the camouflage of bikes. Sure enough, tucked behind a bike wheel, was my little grandson. Playing hide and seek.
“Bradley!” I squealed, pulling him out from his hiding space. I should have known. He loved playing hide and seek. This had all been a game to him. “I found him!” I shouted to the red-vested employees who were still searching the area.
“Cancel Code Yellow,” the clerk in charge announced into his walkie. I thanked the smiling workers as they returned to their positions, while holding a bewildered Bradley in a visor-like bear hug. It was probably pointless to tell him how he shouldn’t play hide and seek at the store and how worried I was that I’d lost him and how much everyone had been looking for him. He’s only three. But at my age, I should have known better than to let go of that little hand, even for one second.
Luckily, Target—and many other stores like it today—have implemented this new system of protecting children when their parents or grandparents take them shopping. Good thing—for Bradley and me. Although maybe Grandma needs to be kept on a leash.


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