Losing Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman holding hands (so cute!) with one of her BFFs (and one of the very few other GIRLS there) who I sadly had to crop, because I don't show other kids' faces. Another less-than-stellar photo, but this kid moves too fast for decent pictures!

Charlotte had yet another birthday party to attend this past weekend, and she always, always loves going to her friends’ parties. Heck, she has a jolly time even at the parties for the kids she dislikes.
Anyway, this party was at a bounce house and had a superhero theme. Never one to waste a fashion opportunity or chance to expand her dress-up box, Charlotte went dressed in an utterly adorable, brand-spanking new Wonder Woman costume.

She had the cuteness edge, too, because the vast majority of her class is made up of BOYS (like, 75%), so my pony-tailed superhero was pretty much the most precious-schmecious creature there.
What? I’m not biased.

So, among the plethora of super-, spider-, and batmen, my little Wonder Woman bolted and bounced and slid and climbed.
Then, like every other birthday party, the games ended and it was time for cake and chicken nuggets. Having declared herself done with the bright blue-frosted caked, I took approximately 4 seconds to throw her paper plate into the trash, about 6 feet away. When I turned around, she was gone.

A bit concerned, I quickly scanned the room for Charlotte. No Wonder Woman. Surely, I was just missing her, right? I looked CAREFULLY. No Charlotte.

I left the party room and checked the hallway, bathrooms, and another party room where a second birthday was being celebrated. No Charlotte.
I went into the lobby where a THIRD birthday party was beginning to gather. Nothing.

I ran back to our party room, scanned the room yet again, couldn’t find her, and quickly told a staff person that I had lost a little girl dressed like Wonder Woman.
We checked the same spots and the employee room, and the staff guy and another accompanied me to examine the two rooms with all the blow-up bouncy crap (which were currently empty).

Still no Charlotte.
I started to panic. Common sense told me that Charlotte had just wandered off, but Mommy Terror told me that she was MISSING. The fact that Chris and I had watched Liam Neeson’s Taken the night before DID NOT HELP. I mean, I didn’t think she had been abducted by Albanian sex traffickers, but . . . I also couldn’t find her.

I checked the other birthday party room again but didn’t see her. At this point, the staff guy and I returned to our party, and I checked that room yet again. Oh, the feeling of looking and looking and not seeing any identifying aspect of your little girl.
I was near tears at this point.

The staff asked me if I had checked the other party room. “Yes,” I said, probably more tersely than was polite. “Twice. But I’ll check again.”
I went into the other room, and oh my goodness. There was Charlotte, sitting next to a bunch of strange kids we didn’t know, holding a balloon, eating pizza, and drinking apple juice.

Oh, and no, that one was not a superhero-themed party. She sort of stuck out, what with her cape and all.
“CHARLOTTE!” I screeched, running to her and picking her up.

She merely gave me a confused look.
“I didn’t think that one was ours!” a nearby mom said, laughing.

“I am so, so sorry,” I said, really embarrassed but mostly just relieved. “I turned around for a second, and she must’ve bolted.”
“Oh honey,” said the mom (come to think of it—she might’ve been a grandma), “take a deep breath. You’re shaking.”

“I know,” I said, attempting to laugh and pretty much failing.
The (probably) grandma and another mom insisted on Charlotte taking her pizza and juice (I made her leave the balloon, though), and they even carried it to the other room for me (I was still clutching/carrying Charlotte). “Everything is okay,” the grandma said, “and now you have a fun story.” They were SO nice about the mix-up, and I think they just found it funny. I felt bad about the giant pizza slice, though. Especially because I quickly tossed it, so the other kids wouldn’t see it and wonder where THEIR pizza slice was.

I was so relieved to find Charlotte, I couldn’t even be mad at her. In her defense, I think she just got confused. Something must have caught her eye outside the party room, and these types of parties are forever doing the “everybody line up!” thing, so kids can be herded like preschool cattle to the next thing.
She was just following directions, I’d wager.

Of course, that child loves pizza, so she might’ve just decided to join the other party, for the fun of it.
Anyway, the terror of not being able to find your kid? I don’t recommend it.

And I informed Chris that HE can take Charlotte to next week’s party (at another bounce house). Me? I’ve had enough of bounce houses for a while.  


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