MG: If you ever get lost in the mall, you should ask for help. Try to ask help from the shopkeeper or a woman with children. They may ask you what is your daddy and mummy's name. You cannot say my daddy and mummy's name is daddy and mummy. Do you know what is daddy and mummy's name?
My Boy: I know daddy's name but I don't know what is mummy's name. I only know what daddy calls mummy.
The girl is older so she knows both our names and telephone numbers. So, I told the boy our names and asked him to memorise his daddy's telephone number.
My Boy: Mummy, last time cheh cheh (sister) asked me to hide.
MG: No, you must not hide when we are outside the house. You can play hide and seek at home but not at the mall.
My Girl: Baby, have you been lost before? I have been lost before once but I found mummy and daddy after that. My heart was beating very fast!
My Boy: Mummy, I don't want to go out anymore! I am scared! Can you write your name and number on a paper? I am scared I cannot remember.
I told him that as long as he follows the rules, he won't get lost. The rules are to make sure he can see mummy and daddy at all times and no hiding.
My Girl: Can we practise?
My Boy: We can't practise. What if we are really lost?
Finally, we agreed to practise picking which type of adult they can go up to, to ask for help because they are worried they cannot find a woman with children. They were also worried that they are not tall enough to ask at the shop counters. I told them they can shout "Excuse me!" but they said they are shy to ask.
I think it is important to have this talk with your children so that they know what to do if they are lost otherwise it may never have occured to them before like in the case of my boy. Now, I think he will be more cautious by not playing hide and seek outside. They like to hide in the clothes racks and he likes to run in another lane and play peek-a-boo.
I will have to follow through and continue our chat at the mall itself. It is quite easy to get lost at the mall and other crowded places. Once, my ex-colleague lost her child at the indoor theme park in Genting Highlands. She was distraught. We broke up into groups and fortunately we found him.
When we are out, we should always keep an eye on our children. We can ask our children to keep and eye on mummy and daddy but once they are outside and there are so many distractions, they often forget. Quite often my kids talk to the "wrong mummy", ie another lady, thinking it is me.
I read that it is also a good idea to write down your name and number in the inside flap of your child's shoe for those who cannot remember numbers.