Year 5, Day 288

Today we took a trip to At Home, a store I’ve only ever been to once before, to pick up some Christmas decorations. I was looking for a couple unrelated things and honestly wasn’t sure I’d find them there or not, so Jaclyn agreed to keep an eye on Miles while I set out alone to do some quick recon around the store. After looking around to no great success, I ran back into Jaclyn and Miles depressingly close to the entrance, suggesting I was in for a longer visit than I had perhaps intended.

When I say I “ran into” them, I mean I spotted them, they glanced at me, and we didn’t really say a word to each other. This is important because at no point did we establish I was “back,” and yet Jaclyn disappeared within seconds. I was about five feet away from Miles when he turned to me and said, “Where’s Mommy?”

Great question, I thought, since she was supposed to be watching you. I thought this might be a teachable moment.

“Well Miles,” I said, shrugging. “Looks like she walked away and now you’re lost.”

“We have to find her,” he said.

“Oh, there’s no ‘we’,” I clarified. “I didn’t know she was going to walk off either. So now you’re here, alone, in the store. What are you going to do?”

I wasn’t sure Miles was taking this exercise seriously, or if he even really understood when I said to act like I wasn’t here, but he did start offering up suggestions.

“We have to look for her shoeprints,” he said first. And so, like some cartoon sleuth, Miles started walking through the store staring at the ground.

“Do you see anything?” I asked after a minute.

“No,” he sighed, dejectedly.

“Well what will you do now?” I asked.

He considered his options. “Do you remember what Mommy’s shirt looks like?” he asked.

“I don’t,” I said, honestly.

“We have to look for people with brown eyes,” he finally decided, picking one of Jaclyn’s more constant features instead.

As we continued our trek through the store, Miles led us to areas I tried to explain were of no interest to his mother. Eventually, he got distracted by more Christmas decorations.

“Since we can’t find Mommy, we need to pick out more Christmas things.”

“Let me make sure I understand this,” I said. “You can’t find mom, and your top priority is buying Christmas stuff.”

Having searched the entire store, Miles arrived at the only logical conclusion. “Mommy must be driving.”

“So Mommy’s gone, and you still want to shop.”

“Yeah,” he replied.

“At what point would you go to an associate and say, ‘I’m lost’?”

“Not yet,” he said. He had, at this point, not seen Jaclyn in 30 minutes.

When we finally found Jaclyn, she naturally started up conversation as though we had been there the whole time. “What do you think of this?”

I didn’t even pay attention to what she was asking me about and informed her that they had both failed.

“Failed what?” she asked.

“Being lost in the store.”

Jaclyn never once looked up. “Well I wasn’t lost,” she said.

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