Caring for Kids…at Billings Clinic

Losing your kid at Costco

If any of you have ever been to Costco on a Saturday you know what I mean when I say there are a LOT of people. There’s one trip to Costco that I will never forget. I had some family in town for a weekend.  It was my adult cousin, my 3 and 5 year old kids, and me. When we got there, my 3 year old wanted to sit in the cart…great.  My 5 year old son wouldn’t sit in the cart because he was “too big.”  I decided to let him “help” me shop. 

We had the shopping cart parked at the end of an aisle and I just needed to go about halfway down for one item. I left my cousin with the cart and the kids (or so I thought).  I grabbed my item and came back to the cart to find my cousin and my 3 year old.  Ahh…panic…where is my 5 year old?  I asked my cousin and she said that he had followed me down the aisle, and she thought I knew he was with me…”helping.”  I didn’t even see him.  I had my cousin stay with my 3 year old and the cart, and I went looking.  I looked up and down the aisle …he was nowhere in sight.  There were tons of people milling around the freezer section and getting samples from the nice ladies at the end of the aisles.

With my mind swimming and my heart beating fast, I walked around and up and down the next couple aisles and still no sight of him.  I think I was even screaming his name a little louder than I needed.  Still nothing.  I have no idea how long it was, maybe a total of 3 minutes.  I can tell you it felt like an eternity. Finally, I came around a corner and he was walking towards me with a scared look on his face and some tears starting to well in his eyes.  I just grabbed him and hugged him tight.  I felt some of my own tears starting. I was so relieved to have found him. 

Once we calmed down I asked him what happened.  In the words of a 5 year old he told me he had followed me down the aisle and was goofing around trying to walk backwards and then suddenly I was gone.  He started walking around looking for me.  Thankfully the episode did not last long but it reminded me to teach both of my kids what to do if they ever get lost or separated from me.  As you can imagine, the directions need to be short and simple. 

1)     Stay put, try not to wonder around.

2)     Look for someone who works in the store and tell them you are lost.

3)     If you can’t find someone who works in the store, look for another mom and tell her you are lost. 

4)     Tell them your name and your mom/dad’s name

Now, my kids get an earful every time we go to a busy place.  My rule is that if you are not riding in the cart you have to have your hand on the cart and hold on.  My son still reminds me of the time he got lost in Costco.  It made a lasting impression on him and on me. 

Last summer we went on a family trip to Disney World with another family so all together there were four kids and four adults.  That’s enough people to watch all the kids, right?  But just to make sure, we used a sticky address label and wrote “Mom cell # and Dad cell #.” We stuck them to the back of the kids’ shirts.  Lots of other moms commented on what a good idea it was.  Thankfully, we did not lose anyone that time.

Leslie Poling, MD

I am a board certified pediatrician at Billings Clinic, a Montana native, and a working mother of two. My children are a great source of enjoyment in my life as well as entertainment. It is common for me to share some of my parenting tips and funny stories about my kids with my patients. As a family we enjoy the outdoors here in Montana. We spend weekends camping, playing soccer and baseball, hunting, fishing, skiing, and just spending time together. I want this blog to be a source of medical information, but also a place to come and learn more about some of the pediatricians that work here at Billings Clinic. Enjoy!

3 comments on “Losing your kid at Costco
  1. Gloria Geffre says:

    Thanks….Costco in Billings always a crazy place. Love to go when we make it up to the big city!!!!

  2. Kara Button says:

    When we went to Disneyworld my hubby put one of his business cards in each of the kids pockets and told the kids to give it to a mom or a cast member if they got lost. It had his cell number right on it. We also took a picture of each of the kids every morning while we were waiting for the doors to open. That way we had a current document of what they were wearing that day.

    • Billings Clinic says:

      Great tips Kara! Thank you for sharing your experience.

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