Olivia and I saw the screening for Disney's new movie, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, which we enjoyed very much. The movie is about a boy who wishes his perfect family would have just as bad a day as he often has. When his wish comes true, he learns a lesson about love and why the bad days aren't so bad after all.
There's a lot of children's movies that are fun, but enough that are really boring for adults to be dragged to. I know. I subscribe to Netflix and when it's Olivia's turn to pick a movie I secretly play on my smartphone when people aren't looking.
It's silly and clean fun, and we both laughed a lot. I loved the cameo by Jennifer Coolidge as the severe DMV license tester. The funniest part for me, though, was a scene in which the boy (Alex) accidentally tattles on his dad for losing his baby brother in the mall for 45 minutes.
Alex said something about, The store manager wanted to call the police but Dad said not to. The mom character raised her eyes with a mixture of concern, panic, anger, and relief.
I know that exact feeling because my husband lost our kid at the mall for about 40 minutes. It happened last September, when I was in the middle of an all-day interview to join the Pacific Century Fellows (PCF.)
I was required to show up early in the morning (maybe 8 a.m.?) at a conference room and went through a three-part process that lasted me four or five hours. Other people had different interview times and so some stayed for a total of about eight hours. But that's another story. I was really stressed out because the competition was stiff.
I put my phone on silent, and when I saw it ring at lunchtime with a number I didn't recognize, I sent it to voice mail. I probably would only have taken a call from Claus, and only because he knew I was in this interview, so he wouldn't call unless it was an emergency.
I forgot to check the voice mail when I finished the day because my brain was shot from too much thinking. I got home and Claus totally acted like nothing happened all day. The conversation went something like this:
Me: "How was your day, Honey?"
Claus: "Great. I took her to the mall. We had a yogurt and went into a few stores."
Me: "Thanks for taking Olivia all day. You're not too tired?"
Claus: "No, it's all good. But... funny thing happened at the mall. She wanted to go into this store and she went to the Hello Kitty section while I looked at another section of the store. I thought I could see her out of the corner of my eye but somehow she walked past me and out the door."
At this point my heart rate is starting to accelerate because I realize what Claus has done is, in journalistic terms, bury the lead.
Claus continued: "So I walked outside and she was nowhere to be found. I walked around and around and didn't see her."
Me, suppressing small panic attack. It's like the movies where you know the ending is OK (she's home, she's safe) but the storytelling arc is so compelling you still freak out anyway as you listen to the drama play out.
Me: "YOU LOST OUR CHILD????????"
Claus: "More like temporarily misplaced. I brought her back in one piece. It's the end result, right?"
Me: If my eyes could roll further back in my head they'd have done a 360. "No. YOU LOST HER FOR 40 MINUTES???????!!!!!!! ...So then what happened?"
Claus: "I went into every store and I was calling her name, and she was nowhere. After 10 minutes I started to panic."
I am a super Nervous Nellie and even when she's here at home I peek out the window every ten minutes to check on her even though I know she's with the neighbors and it's a safe street. I am SO NEUROTIC.
This pretty much tripped all my sensors. As a barometer, when the incredibly laid-back Husband is nervous, it's serious.
Claus: "I called mall security, and they said a lady had reported a lost child outside the yogurt shop. So the guard took me to the yogurt shop where Olivia was sitting on a bench waiting for me. The lady was nice enough to keep her while Security looked for her parents."
If I had a bottle of Valium I would have swallowed more than the recommended amount. Child abduction is my worst nightmare. I CANNOT BELIEVE he lost her for 40 minutes.
After I completed my breathing exercises to calm down and retracted the wife-daggers back into my eyeballs, I hugged my daughter so tight she complained. Then I hugged her tighter.
At some point much later when I noticed that I had a voice mail, I listened to it. It was the security guard from the mall, looking for me. So that was the number I did not recognize! Olivia had only memorized my phone number, not Claus' (which is something I immediately rectified after this mini-crisis.)
It's probably lucky for Claus that I didn't retrieve this in the middle of my day or before he could ease into the confession himself because I would have been a fuming mess walking into my house.
You can bet when she's on his watch now, I'm checking in every half hour to see if she's OK. I should require him to send a new photo every quarter hour, standing next to today's paper, just to prove he's still got her.