Well, it finally happened to me. I've heard lots of stories about this happening to families and I remember, clearly, when it happened to my youngest brother. Over the years I've had many dreams of it happening but until last weekend I've have been pretty lucky.
Last Saturday, we packed up and headed to Ogallala for my niece's fourth birthday party. It was a fancy spa party where the girls dressed up in everything shiny and glittery with tiaras and plastic high heeled shoes. Almost the whole clan, plus a few in-laws were there for a total of too many adults and what felt like two dozen kids. We were all crammed into my sister-in-law's folk's house that had been transformed into a makeshift salon. There was a nail, hair styling and makeup station for the girls and a tattoo and pirate station for the boys.
My girls thought they were in hog heaven due to the fact that their lame, party pooper of a Mom rarely does their nails, spends a maximum of two minutes on their hair and lets them put on makeup four times a year -- once for Halloween, once for their dance recital and twice just for fun. All of these things are only allowed in the bathroom where the yucky carpet is and NEVER in the living room. Thank goodness I have a sister-in-law and her family who absolutely LOVE this girly stuff and don't freak out over the mess it makes.
Anyway, the party was a hit and the kids ran freely from station to station, and back 'n forth to the creatively decorated food table that held swan shaped cream puffs, star shaped brownies, and fancy plastic wine glasses for the kid's punch. We adults just found a corner to duck into or an occasional open spot on the couch to sit and make idle chit-chat. It was chaotic but fun, just as most kids' birthday parties are.
After a few hours, all the nails were painted, cheeks were blushed and hair was prettied. It was time to head out. The plan was to all go over to mom's house for lunch and hang out a bit, before we all headed back to our homes. While trying to pack up each girl's goodie bag, claim their tiaras, and match up their plastic high heels, my youngest daughter flew in the house asking to ride with Grandma because she was leaving. With my head buried underneath the card table reaching for a shoe, I told her, "That's fine, go ahead." I finished cleaning up my family's mess, thanked the hosts over and over, and recruited my hubby to help gather the troops so we could leave.
After several more minutes of "Do you have my wings?" and "I can't find my other shoe!" we finally made our way out the front door. While loading the truck and still yelling a few goodbyes, my husband asked where our four year old was, to which I answered, "She rode with Grandma." It was a short drive to Mom's house and once there, we quickly unloaded and the girls raced inside to change to normal clothes. Grandma's house has a whole set of new toys and fun places to play so the girls were excited to have the few hours to spend there.
My 9-year-old changed fast, and was insistent on finding her little sister so they could play whatever it is they love to play at Grandma's. She asked where her youngest sister was and I answered, "I don't know, she's around here somewhere." My mom was busy getting lunch stuff around and dragging out more chairs, so she was oblivious to the amount of kids that were currently present at her house. My middle daughter ran off looking downstairs, upstairs, and outside calling her little sister's name. I was distracted by gathering up the princess dresses and accessories they'd stripped off all over the bedroom, and my do-it-yourself, handyman, hubby was busy making phone calls on the hunt for cheap bags of concrete.
My 9-year-old returned to me twice, saying her sister wasn't downstairs and wasn't outside, to which I replied, "Well, she's here cause she rode with Grandma, so go find her."
My mom, who was trying to attempting to rearrange her kitchen so it could hold all of her kids and grandkids, caught a few words of our conversation and announced that, in fact, my youngest daughter did NOT ride with her. She said she asked to but decided to wait till her cousins left and ran off.
All of this was new information for me. I thought she rode with Mom all along. I didn't even see her at the party. I hurried to grab my phone to hopefully catch someone still there to retrieve her and bring her with them.
I called my middle brother's cell phone and after the first ring he picked up and asked, "Did you forget something?" This statement was followed by some laughter and a few explanations and an agreement that she could ride to Mom's house with them.
Thank goodness it was with family and in a small town, and that we weren't headed back to McCook. It could have been 10 times worse and I've certainly heard those kinds of stories, so we are lucky and of course, got a real kick out of it.
My 4-year-old wasn't concerned at all that her parents unknowingly ditched her. She was with her cousins at a spa party, what could be better?!