"Have you seen my mother?", a frantic child asked at the museum information counter. "She was dressed in green and cream."
"No, I don't think we've seen her."
The person at the counter didn't bat an eyelid. Instead of declaring an immediate Amber alert, shutting down the museum doors, turning on the flashing lights and sirens etc. , she offered to make an announcement on the public announcement system. "Will Subha please come to the central lobby? Your party is waiting for you there."
I was the frantic child, dragging my daughter in tow as I hunted high and low for my mother. She had vanished inexplicably while we visited the naval museum Nauticus in Norfolk VA.
I had taken M for a restroom break on the lobby floor, since I couldn't locate the ones on the exhibit floor that a volunteer had assured me were just around the corner. My father and my son were deeply immersed in a workshop on submarine design, when my mother got bored and wandered off.
Maybe she went to the unfindable restroom, now right before my eyes (why couldn't I have found this earlier?). But only the cleaning staff were there. I checked the adjoining exhibit halls, but after about 4 twists and turns , I was in serious danger of losing the rest of the party. I went down the elevator to the lobby, in hope of seeing if she might be there. My husband chose that moment to enter the building.
"See if she comes here after the announcement, while I go up and check again." He was grinning broadly- "I've heard of missing children and frantic parents, but this takes the prize!"
Dragging M, and muttering to myself, I took the nearest elevator to what I imagined was the top floor exhibit, only to land in an alien world. This was a mezzanine level, not the floor that I wanted. So it was, back down the elevator and up the moving ramp to the top floor, again.
Just as I took a despairing look at the entrance of the labyrinthine exhibit, my mother's voice hailed us from behind, as she huffed and puffed her way up the moving ramp. "Where did you all go? I finished looking at all the exhibits and was getting ready to enter the movie theater for the 3 p.m. show, when I caught sight of you. I tried waving to you, but you didn't see me, so I came down to the lobby where I saw S. He told me you were looking for me. I didn't even hear any announcement!"
And so it was that I spent the museum trip making an intimate acquaintance with the restroom locations and elevators, and very little time to spare for the actual exhibits. Next time you lose a parent in a public place, you know what NOT to do!