Lost and Found

Folgers kite flying banner

When I talk to my mommy friends or my children’s classmates’ moms, it seems like our discussion often focuses on which activities our children should participate in to stand out. Maybe it’s because we live in the bay area and the ultra competitive environment creates this behavior.

I often worry about whether my children are falling behind because they are not going to Chinese or Japanese school, or playing club soccer or doing gymnastics. Honestly speaking, between piano lessons and swimming, and teaching them Japanese myself, they barely finish all their homework as it is. I do get concerned when I hear from other parents, “so and so’s schools are already teaching their 2nd grade students 3rd grade math,” etc. All that changed a few weeks ago, when something happened that made me take a step back and realize what’s truly important in life.

Folgers heart in sand

Our family went to Target to shop for birthday gifts and home items. My husband took the two children to the toy section to buy birthday gifts while I explored the kitchen section. After 15 minutes or so, I went to meet them in the toy section. As predicted, they were busy looking at what they want for Christmas, instead of selecting something for their friend’s birthday. I then split from them in the toy section so we could finish shopping quickly.

I don’t remember exactly how much time passed (perhaps just 3 or 4 minutes). I found what I wanted to buy, and my husband and my daughter found me at the same time. My husband then asked me about our son, “Where is he?” I looked around and said “I don’t know, I thought he was with you!” My husband then calmly said, “Okay, he was just looking at Legos a minute ago and is probably in another aisle. Let’s go look for him.”

Standing on the opposite ends of the aisles, we walked down the entire toys and outdoor sections and our son was nowhere to be found. I started panicking a bit and made eye contact with my husband from across the aisles. We didn’t speak a word but both of us were thinking the same thing. All the horrible scenes from movies where children get kidnapped raced through our minds. I’ve never been so scared in my entire life, screaming in my head “What happened to my baby?”

keep calm and find your child My husband found a Target worker nearby and told him that our son was missing. The worker asked my husband what our son was wearing. Remembering that he took a few camera phone photos earlier in the store, he showed the picture of our son to the worker. Definitely a bit embarrassing, but more on that later. childrens wolverine mask

The worker, after seeing the photo, said into his headset, “Code yellow, code yellow, there’s an Asian boy wearing a blue shirt with red stripe who is missing.” He then asked us to go wait at guest services. Our hearts sank with every passing second. We quickly walked towards guest services holding onto our daughter’s hand, as she kept asking “Where is he? Where did he go?”

Finally, at guest services, I saw my son waiting there. He burst out crying the moment he saw us as well. I ran towards him and hugged him tighter than I’ve ever hugged him. At that moment, nothing else really mattered except for the fact that I had him safely in my arms again. Now that the incident is over, I realize that it doesn’t really matter if my children do 50 activities, or just a few. I just want them to be healthy and happy, just like what I wished for when they were first born.

When we had dinner with our friends over the weekend and told them the story, we cracked up when we realized which picture my husband had shown the employee who was helping us. Good thing it wasn’t my daughter who went missing! We would have had to show them this super helpful photo.children with hulk mask | Just One Cookbook


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  1. Nami – you have me in tears in the middle of Starbucks right now. I’ve been in the same boat. There is nothing, nothing as horrible as that feeling. We lost Mr. N at a park one time and Miss A at a children’s museum (she was so short we couldn’t see her behind a sign). The feeling is awful. I tear up just thinking about it. It’s amazing how many awful thoughts can cross your mind in a matter of seconds. Fortunately our stories ended well; and you are right, they gave us an opportunity to remind ourselves what really matters. I’m so glad your son is safe. Many hugs to you and your beautiful family.

    On a side note, we just saw Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and your susheep rock!!! They were my husband’s favorite animated food (and that was before I told him that you created them!). :) Enjoy your family this evening – and every day. We have so much to be thankful for – and I include your blog in what I’m grateful for – so touched by this post.

    • Hi Kristy! Until I posted this post yesterday, I never imagined I would received comments similar to my experience. It’s such an awful feeling to lose your child – totally parent’s nightmare. So glad you found Mr. N and Miss A.

      We went to see the movie on the opening day (which we normally won’t do). So happy you remembered my Susheep. 😀 That was one difficult thing to create… (illustration is so easy!). Thank you very much for your kind and thoughtful comment!

  2. Oh Nami… I know exactly what you are talking about. It has happened to me a few times and I almost have a panic attack for the few seconds they are not in my sight. I can’t imagine actually not finding them immediately like you… your legs must have been like jelly walking to guest services. Thank goodness he found his way there….

    We live in a scary world where we have to always have them almost tethered to us to keep them safe. I remember running around a store while my mother shopped and she never even batted an eyelid. We don’t live in that world anymore.

    You truly went through a scare….I am so happy it all had a happy ending. :)

    • Hi Ramona! Yeah the jelly legs! I felt the whole world stop and my body started to move to the exit area just making sure no one was existing with my son! Bad things can happen even in the safest neighborhood. In Japan, a lot of kids still play alone without parents too. It’s sad things are changing. Thank you for your kind words. xo :)

  3. Jessica A

    Thank you for an inspiring story, Nami. I am not married and do not own a child, but I can relate this story to people whom I love =’)

  4. Aiko

    So glad you found him!! I was tearing up as I read you blog today. I remember vividly when my mom lost my brother at a shopping center in Osaka. My mom looked for him and couldn’t find him, so she decided to go to the nearest police station, where she found him. He was eating a little snack that the police officer gave me. My mom said he didn’t look upset at all! It must’ve been the snack and the novelty of being with a police officer :) The story was told over and over again as you can imagine.

    • Hi Aiko! Osaka or most of cities in Japan is so crowded and I’d go panic if I lost my kids in Japan. Haha, maybe police officer help him calm down a bit with a nice treat. :) Yeah I’ll tell my kids over and over again… “remember what happened?” LOL.

  5. vivalabbird

    Oh Nami!
    Although i dont have a child, i can totally relate because i was THAT child that drove my parents crazy by always getting lost. I was easily distracted and will stop to look at anything. My parents were often distracted because they have 3 rowdy boys and a wandering girl.
    I must have gotten lost 4-5 times and my parents fibally implemented a useful strategy that my cousin i law uses for her child in crowded situations now.
    They would get a big bright ballon for me when we are going to a crowded event, and tie it to my wrist. This way they can see my balloon from a far distance and easily locate me when i wander off!
    I have to telk you, at the time I took my parents’ effort for granted and cared only that I have a balloon (and i loved balloons), but now I realize how amazing and resilient parents are and how much love they have for us!

    • Vivi, your parents must have been extra cautious around you! Well 3 boys and one wandering girl can be very handful. I rarely handle 2 active kids. The balloon method is a nice and friendly idea! Thank you so much for sharing with us!

  6. Ohhh the suspense…I was almost in tears when you wrote about seeing your son again and hugging him so hard! Then I cracked up laughing seeing your daughter with the hulk mask!!! Thanks for taking me on an emotionally rollercoaster ride this morning 😛

    Yea so true, dont compare your kids with others who does this and that. Like u said being happy and healthy…that’s all that matters! There’s enough things we have to do as adults so better let kids be kids and enjoy their childhood while it lasts! 😀

    • Thanks Vivienne! I had to include some laugh in there to end the heavy story. And it was really unexpected those kids pictures will be helpful to think what they were wearing. I didn’t remember what the kids were wearing that day till my husband said “Oh I have pictures of them!”). But I didn’t expect to see the kids with the mask! >_< LOL.

  7. Anne

    Hi Nami:
    I teared up when I read your story. I’m so glad it turned out fine.
    My husband and I had that awful experience of losing our children more than once. We were traveling to San Diego and visited Balboa Park. My son (6?) and daughter (4?) left the children’s museum and went to the natural history (?) museum across the way. In the meantime, we were searching the children’s museum with the help of the employees and I was close to tears. My husband had my cell phone. Thank goodness we forced my son to memorize my phone number (with area code) and the person at the desk was able to call us. Unfortunately, as the employee was trying to call us, my husband was refusing to answer the calls from the unknown caller since we were frantically searching the museum! Thank goodness texts were available at the time and we were sent a text that told us where our kids were. It was an awful time.

    Soon after that, we had traveled to Kyoto station and my daughter who was still around four or five years old at the time left the store (Uniqlo) while we were still shopping. She thought we left. I panicked! My daughter doesn’t speak Japanese and would not have done well… We found her just down the corridor crying and there were two Japanese girls in their late teens/early twenties trying to help her. That would have been incredibly disastrous… No phone, daughter with no Japanese, and not much understanding about where we were… I can’t imagine…

    It is now about 5 years since those awful times. Things have been good since then.

    • Hi Anne! Oh my gosh, you two must have been so scared! You wouldn’t have imagined that they went to a different building. Good thing your son remembered your cellphone #! And the Kyoto station is so crowded too! I worried about losing my kids while traveling in Japan as they are not quite sure where they are and their Japanese is limited. Let’s hope we cah keep them close when we’re out. :)

  8. Patricia

    You’ve just taken me back about 35 years to the same helpless panic you felt. My husband and our two daughters, aged 5 and 2, were in a crowded department store. He took them while I did the shopping in another area. When I went back to the prearranged meeting place I said where are the girls and he said I thought you had them. We rushed around and found them, both crying and holding hands, at the bottom of the stairwell. A crowd had gathered and a nice lady was asking them where their parents were. Scariest moment of my life!

    • Hi Patricia! Your story is very similar to ours. Good thing your 5 year old make sure to stay with the 2 year old, too! I hope every person is nice to care for missing child(ren) but our society is not always that way. We’re very lucky someone was watching the kids. Thank you for sharing the story with us. :)

  9. Eha

    It is so easy to say’ all’s well that ends well’ AFTER you find it thus . . . but the moments twixt the discovery a child is missing and the reunion have to be the scariest any parent can experience . . . methinks you and your husband will have the proverbial eyes at the back of your head for quite awhile!!!!

    • Thank you Eha! Yes, it was a great learning lesson for all of us. My son now makes sure my daughter stays close to us (he keeps reminding her). :)

    • Thank you Kate! I didn’t imagine I could be in this kind of situation. I read/see news about missing kids, but I never thought my kid would go missing. :( Thanks for your love! :)

  10. Eleanor

    So glad this had a happy ending! There is nothing like that horrible sinking feeling that hits you when your child is missing. Every worst-case scenario flashes through your mind until you finally find that lost child. My son was particularly a master of slipping out of sight in crowded public places—the Chicago Aquarium, Sea World, and yes, Target. He’s now 24 and still a worry to me, but at this point I’ve learned to let go and let him be an adult. You don’t ever lose that concern when you’re a mother, however. That’ll be with you forever. :)

    • Thank you Eleanor! I always make sure that my kids are around, but never felt in my life that I REALLY have to make sure to do that in crowded public places. So it was a good reminder for us. It’s true. No matter how old your kids become, they are always your children. Now being a parent, I strongly understand that feeling. :)

  11. Nunki Denetso

    I was reading your post and I was scared for you and your son. That is my fear. I remember my son was 3 when we went to Newport Beach on a July 4th. After a day of hanging out, we told our friends we will go ahead to beat the traffic. As we were packing, I saw my son playing at the corner of my eye knowing my husband will be looking after him. But didn’t know he was packing too while I was carrying my 2 mos old baby girl when I realize our son wasn’t anywhere. The beach was so pack that I didn’t care who was looking, I was shouting so loud that people on the other tent tried helping us to find him. I couldn’t feel my heartbeat. My husband saw him and held him tight. He was so mad that he couldn’t drive while I was crying. I hugged him that night like I won the lottery.

    • Hi Nunki! July 4th! I can totally feel how scared you were that time. Crowded, dark, and your son was so small… A child needs just 1-2 second to go missing. Hugging like you won the lottery… I totally understand that feeling. Thank you so much for sharing your story. :)

    • Thanks Mel! Yeah I had to end with that photo before everyone feels heavy… But who knew those pictures turned so helpful to find out what they were wearing! :)

  12. I have had that exact same experience and I know how frightening it is. My Archie was just two at the time and had just bolted while I was looking at a rack of clothing. I turned around and he was gone. Just awful! You are so right in that it certainly teaches you not to sweat the small stuff xx

  13. Oh Nami your story made me cry. It’s one of the things i fear most … It’s only when everyone is home safe in the evening that i can truly relax. Until then that fear lingers …
    it’s a crazy world out their but as you said, we need to focus on the positive and be grateful for what we have. Thank you for sharing … i am grateful we have become ‘fb’ friends!

    • Nobuko-san, yes agree! There are more important things in life that we often forget or take it for granted. The incident like this make us remember those things. I’m grateful we met and got to know each other. :)

  14. Janice

    Nami, you have me in tears right now! My husband and I are planning to start a family soon and even now at this stage, we worry about where we’re going to settle down and therefore what school our children will go to. Your story puts things in perspective and I will try to remember it when I start worrying about Gymboree classes :). Thank you for sharing your story and the awesome pictures.

    • Hi Janice! Sorry if my story make you scared, but until this happens, I was a mom who never thought my kids would disappear and I would worry about even possible kidnapping. :( It happened unexpectedly. I learned a big lesson this time. I wasn’t into much about kids education and activities until my son went to the elementary school…but now I can have different perspectives – more about what’s important in life. :)

  15. What a scare you had! That’s such an awful feeling when something like that happens. So glad this didn’t take too long to resolve – every minute that you’re experiencing something like this feels like at least an hour.

  16. This happened to me, almost exactly. My little guy, at Target, too! The employees are great there, and they had found him and brought him up front to wait for me. The other scary time was at a busy swap meet when my firstborn was two. Heart attack!
    Thanks for the story, and for the always-welcome encouragement to hug our loved ones tight and not get caught up in the rat race of daily life. It really isn’t important at all whether our kids are doing a lot or a few activities. They grow up in the blink of an eye, and we soon realize “the things that matter aren’t things at all.”

    • Hi Amy! Yeah we’re surprised how employees are well-trained on this kind of occasions. They were really quick and immediately moved around. I agree, I already feel time is passing by way too quickly, and I need to focus more on big important things in life while we live together. :) Thank you so much for your kind comment!

  17. Nami… It has happened to me last few days too
    Accidentally left my 2 year old girl on the mrt train..

    We saw the signboard showing 1 minute, and we didn’t see any door closing signal or hear any door closing sound. That’s why my hubby stood behind us. The door just closed suddenly after I push the stroller into the train and few guys tried to open the door but failed.

    Trea didn’t know she was alone on the train until the young man, whom we learnt later whose name is De Lun, push her out of the station.

    Initial Control Station officer told us they couldn’t find my girl or the stroller because no one reported finding baby and they thought the man was her father….Meanwhile my hubby got into the next train and I was staying at the same station waiting for updates from the MRT officer.

    De Lun told us that my girl only cried out loud for 20sec…

    My girl first question to us was: why mommy & daddy leave me alone?
    Make me feel so guilty and shocked with her question…

    She told me what happened when we were not around..

    My girl: I cry and cry
    De Lun: don’t cry, pa pa & ma ma is on the way
    My girl: gor gor wipe my tears with his hand
    De Lun: can we make friend?
    My girl: he bring out the hp and we play color games

    So easy to kidnap this girl…Thank God we met a very nice and good guy!

    • Hi Ms. Andrea! We always joked that it’s easy to kidnap my son as he’s so friendly to anyone and there was no stranger anxiety even when he was small. You must have been so scared and worried when you separated from your girl. :( Thank you for sharing your story and I’m so glad nothing bad happened to both of our kids.

      • Hi Nami,

        Very strange that i feel so calm when this accident happen, may be because it was happen in Singapore. Small and safe country?! hehe

        Yeah, I feel so glad too that nothing happen to our kids. :)

  18. donna mikasa

    So happy to hear your son was safe and I think it’s a good idea to carry updated photos of your kids with you at all times. And yes, I’m glad your daughter wasn’t the one who was lost! Cutest little Hulk! Give your kids extra hugs tonight. :)

    • Thank you Donna! Yeah I carry their photos too, but when they ask what they were wearing that day… I became blank. I see them everyday and it wasn’t like a costume or anything memorable that I couldn’t figure out immediately. Then my husband said “Oh I have pictures of them I just took…” which was THOSE pictures with a mask on. Gosh. xD What those three were doing while I was shopping!?! 😉

  19. I know you went through – I had the same experience- panicked and frightened. I’m glad they were safe. Cute pics!

    Rain is back in Portland and getting cold. How about you? Take care.

    • Thank you Akemi-san! SF has been good weather so far. Around 60Fs. It’s getting cold night and morning. The heater turns on in the morning these days. Wish to visit you in Portland one day! I love the city!

  20. Sue

    I truly agree with you. Our children are the most precious and nothing else matters.
    Hope that this won’t happen to you again. Cheers!

  21. Vicki Mansell

    Wow! So glad your nightmare turned into a rejoicemare!! God is good all the time!! Kids are special and while we never want to be reminded in such a way at least it planted your feet right back at their sides and thoughts again!! Hugs!

  22. Thanks for sharing this. I have lost my kids before and my heart sank to the bottom of the sea. I am so glad your son is fine. And yes, there are some things in life that are really unimportant compared to the fact our kids are safe.

  23. That was always my biggest fear when caring for or going out with my nieces when they were little. That and choking on food (I actually had to do the heimmlich on one of them, even after always cutting up her food in super tiny pieces!) . What an awful experience to go through and it can happen to anyone. I have a friend who bought her younger child one of those “leashes” for when they travel. She was worried about people criticising her for the leash (you know the comparison to a dog), but I kept telling her to forget people and realise that it could be a life saver, especially in her situation travelling alone with two children.
    Obviously glad you found your son! 😉 <3

    • Hi Debra! I actually had those friendly stuff animal (it was monkey I think?) backup leash. We used it when I brought my kids to Japan alone. I was so worried about losing them in the airport so I had to buy one – and used on several occasion at amusement park etc. It was helpful when my son was still very small (and thank god those things were popular so I don’t look like I treat my son like a pet). Thank you so much for your kind comment! :)

  24. Tak

    Hi Nami-san, Ya, totemo ureshi desu… (I’m very happy) that you found your son!!! It must have felt paralyzing the moment that it happened. I imagine that no one can adequately describe what all of you had to undergo until you finally found him. I’m of you today and sharing your joy…

    PS- Arigato for your reply to my comments about frying.

  25. Orchidea

    Hi. I am so happy to hear that you found your son. And I totally agree with you about all these activities for children, in Sweden it I s the same, parents send children to do many activities an they have full days. I remember when I was little there were not so many activities and we played outside a lot freely instead. I will not send my children to so many activities, I would say one day per week is enough.

    • Thank you! It’s funny parents around the world are worrying about the same thing. And I do remember I used to play all the time after the school and how fun I had back then. Poor kids these days… they always need parents to arrange “play date” to even meet other friends, and even your kids are free, others may have busy activity schedule. LOL. We spend one day for piano and one day for swimming, but I feel like our after school is always rushing to do homework and all the other necessary things! Almost due date?

  26. I was the kid who would stop to read a label at the grocery store and look up and my mother had left me. I always got scolded for “running off” even though I never moved from the spot she left me, or I’d just track her down and she didn’t even notice I was gone. To this day, as an adult, we can’t go anywhere without her leaving me somewhere. Just last year I spent an hour hunting her down through Walmart on a crowded day before the holidays.

    Although I’m glad you’re taking the time to teach them Japanese. One of my biggest regrets is that I never learned much Japanese growing up. It is so much harder to learn it as an adult!

    • Haha, it was a little funny when you labeled as “running off” kid when you didn’t even move. LOL. I always thought teaching my language to the kids is easy especially that’s my first language and I’m Japanese (from Japan)… but I marry to a Chinese who doesn’t speak Japanese, and it’s so hard to switch back and forth between Japanese and English (and I’m not very language person). Parents must either speak less in one language or very good with switching between two languages otherwise it’s easy to fail to teach… I often continuously talk in English to my kids after talking to my husband. I just can’t switch back and forth… And I thought it’s easy to teach Japanese to my kids because I speak Japanese… NOT! :( But I do hope they have enough Japanese that they can go to Japan and live okay… They are learning Spanish in school already and I’d be disappointed if they pick up Spanish faster than Japanese! >_<

  27. Oh Nami, I can imagine how scary that must have been and so relieved and happy that you found him safe and sound. Thank you for sharing this personal post and reminding us about appreciating the simple things in life.

  28. "peppermint" patty

    Nami: Thank you SO much for sharing your story; you are so right, love is the most
    important thing and I am glad that everything turned out o.k. for you! You can bet
    there was an angel sitting on your son’s shoulder that day! I had that experience
    with my son so many years ago! Turns out he was “hiding” in the coat racks and an
    end cap blocked my view. My heart was in my throat. I just kept praying that he would
    be o.k. and so he was. He got a big hug and a MAJOR lecture, because he had been told never to do that. May you always be blessed with your loving ways.

    p.s. Love your recipes! I have a terrible problem with wheat, so Japanese and Thai
    cooking are a delight to learn.

    • Hi “peppermint” patty! Thank you very much for reading my story and thanks for your kind wordss. I remember I took my kids to shop my clothes once and I end up looking for them rather than shopping, so I gave up taking the kids to shop after that. 😀 I’m glad to hear you enjoy my recipes and thank you so much for following my blog! :)

  29. oh Nami, I got panicked as I read through your post, thank God all was well again with u and family! I think its onlynatural for moms to worry about the ‘achievements’ of our kids, but I am just like u these days, just want my daughter to be happy.
    p/s: on brighter note, my Castella cake is in the oven now, thanks to your recipe! I will report how gorgeous they turn out in 35 mins :p

    • Hi Jehanne! I can easily get trapped in those mommy talks. I wasn’t like this until elementary school (while all moms were taking to those infant classes, I was just easy going). I guess I started to worry about “college” and then I fell into tiger mom routes. LOL! I’m kidding – I’m not even close to that too… But yes, I learned a big lesson about real important things in life! Hope you enjoyed Castella cakes! Thank you so much for trying that recipe! :)

  30. Hi Nami, thanks for sharing your story. I think it is every parent’s nightmare to lose their child in a crowded place.We always hang on to our kids really tight, seems overprotective but that’s the way I would have it. Enjoy your weekend with the kids.

    • Hi Yen! Yes, I agree. They usually stay around us so this incident totally threw us out and we were totally in panic. I hope you have a good weekend too!

  31. That is a scare, so glad he was safe and you all are fine now. Brought some tears now, it is the most scary situation any parent can be in. I hate reliving the one we were in a few years ago.
    About the talks on academics and activities, I live in Fremont, the kids go to a private school, so you can imagine the talks here. My husband and I consciously made a decision to see what our kids are doing and never ever get into this race. I agree with you that it is a Bay area thing, private, public..too much. With just couple of activities each for the boys, we are completely drained, our weekends are packed. Don’t stress, the kids come out great ultimately whether they are doing 5th grade math in 3 grade or not.
    You are so right, the kids safe, healthy and happy is the most important of all and the other things are just additions. Hugs to your little ones.

    • Hi Ash! Yeah I know Fremont is very competitive! Everyone (parents) is trying so hard to find some unique activities and stuff. It’s a good learning lesson for me to re-focus on our time together as family and most important things in life. :) Thank you for your kind comment!

  32. Mary A.

    Nami, What a terrible experience! I think that is one of the ugliest feelings you could ever feel as a parent. I had a similar experience with my 3 yr old niece at Disneyland. She ran off when she saw two of the cartoon characters. And you can imagine the crowds that are usually around them. It was the scariest feeling in the world! I am so glad you had a good outcome to your story.

    • Hi Mary! Disneyland! That’s one big scary place to lose a child! Kids are usually overly-excited and it’s so hard to keep them around to begin with. I’m so glad your niece was safe! Than you for sharing your story! :)

  33. Dear Nami, What a nightmare for you and your husband, as well as your kids. I HAVE experienced losing my oldest son in the mall when he was little, but it was a long time ago. Even then, the memory of it all makes me shudder and I don’t wish that on anyone. Glad that it worked out and had a happy ending. Thanks for sharing this story. It does put things in a different perspective. Take care and stay well :-)

    • Thanks so much! Yeah, we weren’t laughing until we went home and think about it again…and we went through the pictures in the iphone and realized all crazy pics of kids with the mask! 😀

  34. It is scary when you think your child has gone missing. I think that happens at least once to every parent. I also agree, it is so easy to get caught up with “keeping up with the Jones.” As I’ve gotten older, I care less and less about what other people think and focus more on developing close family relationships – that’s the one gift I can give my kids that they can take with them when they leave home.

  35. Diane Vandermast

    Dear Nami,
    My son was only 3 when he wandered away from me. My girlfriend & I were shopping in a Target-like store for kid’s clothes, and I looked down and Matt was gone. We looked around and called his name, and he finally came out from between a bunch of men’s pants on very low racks. He was playing hide & seek!! He’s now 45, but your story brought back the terror I felt like it was yesterday. Your priorities are spot on. All that percentile stuff usually evens out after a few years anyway. Rule 1: Don’t sweat the small stuff. Rule 2: Everything is small stuff>

    • Hi Diane! I know I’ll remember our story forever. Hopefully this is the last time! Thank you so much for sharing those rules – that makes sense and good to remember. :)

  36. Shefali

    So glad it all turned out well in the end. I have had a similar experience once and it really does have a way of bringing you back to earth to the realities of what really matters in life. That panic, the helplessness that you feel- the moments that seem like hours- so glad you found him safe and sound. Hugs :)

    • Hi Shefali! Thank you for your kind words. We’ll never ever forget this experience and we learned a lot from this incident. Thank you for your comment! :)

  37. Ina

    Oh Nami, I know exactly how terrified and helpless you must have felt when you could not find your son! Thank God you were not separated long!
    It happened to us too, twice in fact, once with each of our sons, and in very similar circumstances.
    It sure shows you what is most important in life, though, doesn’t it?

    • Hi Ina! Yeah it wasn’t too long, and gosh I can’t imagine being separated not knowing where each other is for a long time. :( True, we had a great lesson that day. :)

  38. Oh Nami, my heart was pounding as I read your story. This is a parents worst nightmare and even if you lose them for a second, panic sets in.

    I’ll never forget a little girl that was in my sons preschool class went to the store with her dad to shop for a holiday gift for her mom, his wife. The mall was very crowded that day and while she was holding her dads hand at the check out counter, for an instant that he let go of her hand to pay the bill, she walked off. Busy looking at all the holiday things, a man took hold of her hand. Not paying attention to see who it was, thinking it was her dad, a woman that knew her, saw her walking out of the mall holding a strangers hand. She stopped her and asked where her dad was….at that moment the man dropped her hand and ran. Had this woman not recognized her, who knows what would have happened to her.

    I will never forget this story as her mom told all of us in the preschool. It horrified me to no end. In a split second they could be snatched, especially during the holidays at the mall. My son is now 27 and I remember the story like it was told yesterday.

    Always keep them close. We told our kids that story, I’m not sure if that was a good idea or not. But let’s face it, when you have more than one child it’s often hard to hold them both close when out and about. They listened and from that day on never strayed.

    I’m so glad your story ended well. The bottom line though, in what you were concerned with in the first place…..your children will excel because you and your husband work with them, nurture them, teach them and expose them to many things. They will never be able to do all the sports out there and quite frankly when they get older, they will choose the ones they prefer. All you can do is your very best and if you do that, they will turn out to be everything and more than you had hoped for. I promise, I have living proof through my own children. You both sound like amazing parents! I’d say don’t worry but let’s face it, that’s a parents job! 😉

    • Hi Vicki! OMG… I just cannot believe that the girl was ALMOST kidnapped. Thank god there was the lady who knew the girl. If a few second/minute different and no one saw her…it may end up with different story. It give me shivers. This kind of things happen in regular neighborhood where we “thought” it’s safe and all. You just never know. I consider we were lucky this time that there was no one who took our son. And I had never imagined that this would happen to me as they are usually around us. It was a huge lesson for me to be always aware. And thank you so much for your thoughts about raising kids. You just made me feel more confident and assured about what we do. Thank you so much for writing, Vicki!

  39. Hi lovely woman! Lucy can’t wander away yet…but I know there will come a day/moment where I will go through a similar experience as the one above! I was almost crying reading your words and thinking about it. I’m thankful that we both have our little ones close to us tonight. Thank you for sharing, sweet friend.

    • Thank you Monet! This kind of story was always someone’s or from the news on TV, etc. It was a good wake up call for us to be more alert of what we do. Thanks so much for your sweet comment. :)

  40. What a moving narrative… I’m neither married nor have children, but I can relate a lot when it comes to missing animals and loved ones. I’m so glad your son is safe and sound 😉

  41. Oh Nami, I feel your agonising, painful, feeling helpless moment. Time flies ever so slowly during that wait.
    Happened to me too, “lost” my daughter in IKEA in Malaysia, when she was just 4 at that time. She was a playful child (and still is at 16).
    It was a harrowing wait, my husband ran to check out (just like you, worried with all child-kidnapping cases on the rise in Malaysia), while I back track and found her crying, few aisles away.

    • Hi Lisa! IKEA is huge! And yeah considering kidnapping cases can happen anywhere, we can’t help thinking about the possibility. I will never forgive myself if something bad happen. It was a huge learning lesson for me. Thanks for your comment!

  42. Oh Nami, I`m so sorry this incident had to occur! :( Thankfully he is safe and sound. Lucky you took pictures before hand. I actually read a post a few days ago, where a mother suggested doing that wherever you go.

    Let`s continue to spread optimism and love! :)

    • Hi Lynna! If my kids weren’t wearing the mask, we were not sure what kind of clothes they were wearing! So that crazy picture with the mask became helpful… Yes, I am in for spreading optimism and love. Something we can do to help others in many ways. :)

    • Thank you John! We did have harness and used it at the airport and amusement park when they were much smaller. These days the harnesses are very friendly with stuff animal shape etc, and I think it’s great to keep kids around in very crowded public spaces, especially if you know your kids may run off in less than a few second. Thanks for your comment! :)

  43. I don’t know what to say, that is my nightmare, after seen several movies with missing children, I think all mothers feel the same. Thanks God you find him safety, and yes, the most important thing is they are happy and healthy. I don’t know what is happening in the world, because it’s the same thing here, study, study, what we learned when we were at 6th grade, are now in 3rd grade. Are kids skipping phases now?

    • Hi Nydia! I know, this kind of incident only happened in movie and TV news and never thought it could happen to us! It was totally unexpected that my kid can go missing! We learned very important lesson that day about most important things in life that matter to us most. :)

  44. Candice

    Hi Nami,

    Thanks for sharing this inspiring story. Even though I don’t have children, I know how you and your family must’ve felt at that moment! I’m glad you found your son in the end (after a scare). Your son’s a smart boy…at least he knew to wait for you at guest services.

  45. Hi Nami,
    At some point we have all felt like we have lost our kid. It is one of the worst feelings ever. Our children are our world. Pretty scary. You are right, it really puts things in perspective.
    I am glad it all ended well.
    Going to hug my little one extra tight this evening.

    • Thank you Asmita! We live everyday, and our life is so busy that we forget most important things in life. Incidents like this make me realize those things again. Have a great weekend, and thank you for reading! :)

  46. Hmpf, i’m happy that u’ve found your angels…..
    keep your eyes ClOSELY on kiddos, trust me’ i’ve almost got an hearth attact when i lost my site to my little niece in mall two month ago, my fault is just a FLASH loooking on a bunch of beautifull hotties who sold a cigarrete.
    Flown few more years, i’ve been kidnapped when i was 2 years old too, my baby sister hadn’t ever had a baby want to adopt me and luckily i was found 2 days after that…

    • Hi Dedy! Wait, you’ve been kidnapped? Omg, I’m so glad you were found after 2 days. That’s the scariest thing I heard. I cannot believe you went through that when you were two years old. So sorry to hear you had the horrible experience. :(

      • well, actually i hadn’t any clues about it since i was only 2 years old….
        my parents should learn a lesson and got a truma about it, when i told my mom about my niece, she almost eat me in a whole piece
        but now, she sometimes kidding me that she not sure enought weather i was their actually son…hahaha

  47. Yah, don’t get caught up in all that parental competition over grades, activities, health, etc. do NOT be a tiger mother! We have two kids, both grown to 23 and 39, one a college and MFA from Stanford and soon to be college professor at Cal, and the other a college dropout, living in LA, and doing what he has to do to get ahead in his chosen field of retail fashion and management.

    They did well in SPITE of their parents. We do our best, but often, we do what we think others expect us to do for our kids. Expose them to new ideas and activities. See what takes. Don’t get weird if the son takes up belly dancing. Smile if the daughter prefers hammers to Barbie dolls. It’s all good.

    • Hi Chris! Thank you so much for writing! I wasn’t even a tiger mom type at all, but I realized I got caught up in the mommy conversation and felt if I’m doing “enough”. You’re very right. We support our kids and cherish the time we have as a family (after all they leave the house so quickly). We guide them but there is so much we can do as parents. Thank you so much for your kind advice. My daughter already prefers playing with boy toys than dolls. 😀 Well, you already saw her in Hulk mask. Hehee.

  48. Vonnie

    Oh girl totally got me with your story … I’m not Japanese but am living in Japan, I def. have had those moments too … panic mayhem and a screaming crazy woman sets in with me every time it happens which isn’t very often lol … Early this year we went to the Hannabi festival and before we got to the festival my husband and I were like we have to watch our kids like a hawk giving that over 200, 000 people were estimated to attend … we failed because I had told my husband to take the kids to the grass area behind us to wash our kids hands, while I secure our spot … Miss 2 was dragging her Dad and Mr 5 was lagging trying to put his shoes on … my husband and daughter returned without my son … the sun was setting and slowly fading and I was running tracks up and down the river bank twice calling out his name and trying to with hold the tears from streaming … I finally went back to where we were seated where friends were looking after Miss 2 while My husband went the opposite direction … hadn’t prayed so hard … the last ray of sun was about to disappear and I say my last prayer … and I’m walking down the same path and I see my son pass me holding a stick, a crowd of people about 2 feet in front and a flow of traffic 2 feet behind him … he was walking in the gap … OMG I just swooped my 25kg son up and just hugged him like I had never hugged me before too … he said he was trying to look for Dad but he was washed out with the crowd and then decided to walk with the crowd then decided to walk back towards us … all before the Sun finally disappeared … I can’t speak Japanese to save myself and was ready to summon all the Japanese I could … we were thanking our Lord for blessing us and giving us direction.. thought I share with you my story … because girl you learn to appreciate the the smaller things in life rather than the bigger things placed in front you….love your recipe’s … bless you and everyone always! p.s. looking forward to watching ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2′

    • Hi Vonnie! Thank you so much for sharing your story. I went to a firework festival in Osaka this past summer and I was SUPER worried about my kids getting lost (I didn’t worry about “kidnapping” – I guess it’s more common here in the US and not so much in Japan). Super crowded and my kids have no idea where we were… I can imagine how panic you were that time! I’m soooo happy you found your son! Sometimes we can’t thank enough for such miracle. Thank you so much for following my blog, and enjoy the movie!! :)

  49. Nami, I don’t have children, but can imagine how your heart must have almost stopped thinking what had happened with your son… Luckily everything ended well.

  50. Lily

    Nami! You just made me tear up midway through your post! I could feel your panic. Now that I have a little one as well I just can’t imagine if anything ever happened to him. I’m so glad everything turned out ok!! I know what you mean about a competitive environment, ppl here are lining up for pre-schools and extracurriculars and all kinds of classes and lessons 2 years ahead. It’s crazy! All I want is for Ethan to grow up having as much fun as possible and learn to respect and love all that is around him. Parenthood changes your world and perspectives so much and really teaches you some of the most important lessons in life. Let’s all hold our little ones extra tight tonight. :)

  51. I don’t know whether to say lol or to be upset… Poor you!!! I have 5 children and they have all made me go through those terrible moments when every irrational fear is forefront in your mind!
    I am so pleased your children are safe. … and also so pleased hat you realised that millions of after school activities do not make the child, the family or, necessarily a happy life or childhood memory for your little one… LOVE is everything …Kisses to your family

  52. Oh I didn’t know this post was open for comments lol! I read it as soon as it came in my email. There is nothing more scary than losing your child, parents go through hell in few minutes. I experienced it once like 10 years ago- Aleks went to next street over neighbors backyard and I was so scared that I didn’t even realize that at that time I was 8 and half mon pregnant , I was running like I didn’t have head on my shoulders. It was the most horrible 10 minutes of my life but thankfully people next door street were outside and knew him from our walks so they hold him tightly until I came . He was 3! I am so glad that Enzo was ok…but I can imagine that he was scared as much as you guys! Thank you for sharing your story and for getting me laugh on the end!

  53. John

    Society and economics are to blame. Whoever came up with the idea of having standards, that all child should know what by what age, and psychiatrist and psychologist who tells us what is wrong and right for our children. Gone are the days when a child should just be a kid. So many things have been invented to make money off children, beauty pageant, fashion shows, ballet, piano, karate, soccer/football league, baseball league. But does any parent or how many parent actually asks the child what they want to do, I believe it is mostly the moms and dads who want to keep up with the neighbors to push their child into having an agenda worst than a professional. Learning curve, learning age, maturity are all based on an individual not by age. Someone who has a PHD might get a head start as compared to another having only an MBA but that’s just the starting point. After the first few years its a free for all. So who cares if a child does not play any musical instruments, the music store, the music teacher, the music school, but it should not be us the parents. Because our children will grow up and tell us I want to play the piano, I want to play the guitar….

    • Hi John! I apologize for my very late response. Thank you so much for your feedback. True there is a lot of society pressure. I grew up in Japan where all the kids were supposed to go to a cramming school after school. Kids go to “another” school after regular school, and it was the norm (well, I think it’s still the same). My mom was against it (she’s rare) but I felt pressured that I had to just like my friends… Thank you again for writing! :)

  54. Nami-san, it is a crushing feeling of your heart and your stomach feels like lead. Your heart starts to beat fast and your mind begins to race. I am so relieved to hear that all is well but when it happens it is a moment you will never forget. I hope tomorrow is a better day. Take Care, BAM

    • I’m sorry for my late response. Yes it was, and I will never ever forget this experience. Once in a while I think about it. It’s a great reminder for my kids too, not to stay away from us. :) Thank you for your kind words!

  55. Oh Nami, so glad your son is safe and you both are alright! It musst have been a horrible experience, and I do know how helpless you felt. Many years ago I lost Corina too in Germany in the parking garage. It was the longest 10 minutes of my life.
    Nami, your children will grow up with love and caring and no extra activities can measure up to that:)

    • Hi Judit! I’m sorry for my late response. Losing your child in the parking garage can be horrifying because you worry about the cars, too. :( I really like how you said about extra activities cannot measure up to the love and caring we give to the kids. I’ll remember that! :) Thank you very much!

  56. Glad that everything turned out fine Nami. Thats a scary situation for parents. I experienced a similar situation years ago. I got lost when I was a kid and finally parents found me 2 hours later. It was a horrible experience for me. As a mother now, I can imagine what my parents must have gone through.
    Thanks for this thought provoking post.

    • Hi Shruti! I’m sorry for my late response. Wow 2 hrs later! Both you and your parents must had a very hard two hours… :( Yeah, becoming a parent, we actually learned a lot about how our parents have done for us growing up. :) Thank you so much for your comment.

  57. Anne

    Hi Nami! Thanks for sharing your story! I don’t have kids yet, but I know exactly how your son felt — I used to get lost in stores a lot when I was his age! I was always reunited with my family safe and sound, even the time I lost them during the Golden Gate Bridge Anniversary walk and that was quite a crowd. It always helped that I knew my phone number and address and not to wander off with strangers. If your kids know what to do to help themselves when they get lost, then you both feel a lot safer. :) Sounds like your son did a good job himself! Thanks for your great blog!

    • Hi Anne! I’m so sorry for my late response. OMG, I saw the image of the GGB anniversary walk before…and you got lost?! That must be the scariest experience for you! I’d be in total panic, especially in that much crowd. My kids know our phone numbers, although they tried to share it with others in the beginning! Thank you so much for your comment. :)

  58. This is a very touching story, a scary event and a great way to put things in perspective. Thank you for sharing. I remember still clearly 2 incidents where I got lost from my mom when shopping. Today I laugh at the memories and kind of see them as inpiring moments. Hope it will be the same for your son.

    • I’m so sorry for my late response. I hope both of my children remember it at least for next 5 years! On the other hand, I’d never ever forget that feeling… but I learned a lot. :) Thank you so much for your comment, Evelyne!

  59. I can only imagine what you must have gone through… This is a hardest moment any parent can imagine facing… I had been through this and I know how it feels….
    Now that A is hardly around I’m becoming more n more finicky n hyper sometime I even make my elder one sit in the cart to make sure I don’t end up leaving him behind…
    I’m so glad that he was safe n there… You are right moment like this really make us realize what is most important in our life.

    • Hi Reem! I’m so sorry for my late response. I can see the pressure and responsibility you have these days without A. It could happen when we’re least expecting, and that was exactly in our case. Let’s keep our children close. :) Thank you Reem!

    • Hi Valerie! I’m sorry for my late response. Yeah I can imagine that. No matter how old your kids are (either 2 year old or 7 year old in my case), I still worry the same amount! :) Thank you for your comment!

    • I’m sorry for my late response – I completely missed this comment. Thank you for your kind words. Yes he’s been very careful since the incident. :)

  60. Dear Nami, my heart was pounding extremely fast when I was reading your story as I recalled similar experience in Taiwan last year. We went to Taiwan for holidays in a big group, including my parents and my sister and family. We were at the super crowded Taichung Fengjia Night Market. The taxi drivers let us alight along the road as it was too crowded for them to drive nearer to the market. I got off the 7-seater coach first and waited for my kid, but I forgot what I was doing (holding the door or camera) and assumed my mom was holding onto my kid’s hand. When everyone got off the coach, I suddenly and immediately realized that my girl was not there!!! I exclaimed and they all started turning their heads and my mom spotted my girl walking ahead (a few people between her and us!!) on her own!!! All of us shouted her name and ran forward to catch hold of her! She was in shock as she realized she was walking on her own! I still panic now as I write the encounter. I cannot and will not want to imagine what would have happened if we did not spot her in time. After that, I make sure I hold her hand whenever I can. I still shudder thinking about it, nightmare for mommies indeed! Thank God that our kids are found and safe.

    • Oh no, so scary! I’m so glad to hear you found your daughter. We were lucky that we received the luck or the second chance in cases like this. I certainly don’t want this to happen again! It was a horrifying moment to us but good that each of our family members learned something big and important. Thank you for sharing your story with us. :)

  61. Nami, I had the same experience with my son, who was 14 at the time. We were staying on the Gold Coast in Australia at a resort. We signed my son up for an all-day deep-sea fishing trip, since he loves fishing. My husband put him in a taxi with instructions where to be dropped off at the marina. Four hours later, we got a call from the fishing company saying our son had never got on the boat. I was worried sick for four hours- imaging the worst. Thankfully, he turned up later at our hotel- he had ‘accidentally’ got on a bachelor party boat- full of young men (thank God, no strippers). He was sea sick the whole trip, but I was so worried!

    • Hi Fran! Thank you so much for your kind comment, and I’m very sorry for my late response. I just realized that it is possible that I’d be worried when my kids are much older too after reading your post. You must have been SO scared!!!! It’s funny now that he was actually “experienced” his first bachelor party at the age of 14!!! LOL. I’m so glad he was safe!