The day Shorty disappeared

It’s the day every parent dreads… the day your little ones aren’t so little, and don’t need you quite as much.

For me, that “day” has been slowly building for months now, but the chickens came home to roost last week, and I was NOT prepared!

She’s only 8, with a birthday just around the bend!  Is it really time for the ‘parental disconnect?’

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Here’s how it went down:

It began as any other day. I grabbed Shorty from school and made the bee line to the library.

(Side note: we typically kill time before soccer practice by going to the library after school on, Monday, Tuesday & Thursdays.)

Back to the story—Shorty, in her ever-growing independence asks if she can walk to our homework spot alone.  The walk involves a trip up two flights of steps.  I cringed when the question was popped, but I thought it over and gave in.  I mean, we were only going to the third floor right?  What’s the worst that can happen?

So, I put on my big girl pants, watched her walk to the stairwell, pushed the elevator button to the third floor and rode to the top.  When the elevator door opened, I hopped off,  copped a table, and sat in front of the stairwell door.  I waited, and waited, aaaannnnddd waited for what was likely a minute, but felt like an eternity,  then it happened….I heard tears coming from the stairwell. Familiar tears. My baby’s tears!!! That’s when I panicked!

I ran over to the stair well and began frantically looking for my child, “Shorty?!” “SHOOOOORRRRRTTTTYYYY!!!” No answer and more importantly, no sign of shorty!

Now I’m in total come apart mode… Where did she go?  Did someone snatch her? Is she hurt?  Think, think, think!!!  What if she stopped by the second floor to say hi to her little classmate?!  Yeah, that must be it!  So, off I ran to the second floor to find said classmate! When I found her, I asked her if she’d seen her?

Pregnant pause…. “No ma’am”

*worlds colliding, volcano erupting, mom convulsing*

This is not good!

*Cue the scared mama tears!*

I rush over to the second floor librarian’s desk to see if they’ve seen her: Nada.

Now I’m running toward the stairwell!  Next stop, first floor!

In what seemed like an eternity I make it to the bottom, and I head straight toward the information desk,  my heart drops. No Shorty!

That is until I turn to my left to see her standing, visibly shaken, near a well dressed man. My spider senses are going crazy at this point guys.  Who is this dude?! Why is she crying?! How quickly can I take this guy down?!

While I’m checking off my mom-Kung fu checklist, she waddles over to me with arms outstretched and tears in her eyes and gives me the biggest hug I’ve received in months.

Through tear-stained eyes she tells me returned to the first floor after she was unable to open the door to third floor stairwell.

She returned to the first floor only after remembering what I’d told her as a small child: return to the front, find an adult, and wait.

At this point I’m relieved but horrified at the same time. I’m happy she remembered what I told her but I’m upset at my parenting fail. How soon is too soon to downsize helicopter parenting?  How old is old enough to walk alone?
I dunno folks. I need help here. I’ve been kicking myself for days about this situation, so please, feel free to weigh in while I commit myself to the corner to calm my nerves.

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