Home Maryanne's Tales Family The Day I Lost my Son in a Shopping Mall

The Day I Lost my Son in a Shopping Mall


Have you ever lost your child in a public place? How did that happen? Well, I recently did, and I will tell you exactly how that happened.

I had taken my boys -4 year old Kitty and 2 year-old Ello out for lunch in a shopping mall. We were together with my aunt. After the meal, I decided that we pass by the supermarket within the mall to grab some stuff before heading home. When through with the shopping, we went over to the lift area to wait for one going down to the basement parking.

It so happened that Ello, who was in those shopping carts that are modelled in the form of a car suddenly started fidgeting and insisting he wanted out of the cart –yet just a few minutes before all he wanted was to be in the cart.

Meanwhile, my aunt was busy chatting with Kitty. But as Ello became more agitated and began showing great discomfort, I decided to unbuckle him out of the cart and to do so, I needed to offload some of the luggage I was carrying onto my aunt. I did so, and now I carried Ello in my arms as we continued waiting for the lift down.

After receiving my luggage, my aunt continued talking to Kitty but alas!!! Next thing I heard was a loud shriek from her. Kitty was nowhere to be seen! Goodness gracious! How? In between me transferring my luggage to her and unbuckling Ello, Kitty had vanished! All that couldn’t have been more than two seconds. I suddenly felt a powerful gush of water fill my stomach. I panicked. My heart pounded so fast and loud, I thought it would pop out of my chest.

I cast my eyes far and wide, but my son was nowhere to be seen. I couldn’t understand how it was possible that in less than five seconds, a child had completely disappeared from sight. Frantic, I passed Ello over to my aunt and began pacing up and down the mall like a mad woman, stopping everybody and asking them if they had seen my son. None of them had. They didn’t even know what he looked like.

As I continued frantically searching for Kitty, one lady who had been standing with us at the lift area suddenly remembered seeing a little boy get into the lift, but she wasn’t sure if he was the one I was looking for.

Grateful for the ‘lead’, I remembered that the lifts at the mall are transparent and one can keep track of its movements up and down while seeing the people inside it. I then quickly skid over to the opposite side of the lifts to get a good view, holding my breath, praying fervently, hoping to see my little boy inside. I looked up. Kitty wasn’t in any of the lifts. I looked again, stretching my neck from side to side, tiptoeing and even squatting to get a clear view, but Kitty was nowhere to be seen. I felt my heart drop down and sink into the depths of my belly. Dear God, no. No God. Please Jesus, no. I was feeling cold and hot at the same time, shivering with cold and sweating with heat. My boy had disappeared without a trace. I was running out of breath.

Then a security guard tapped my shoulder and pointed up to the lift saying: “na huyo sio ka kijana kadogo naona kwa hiyo lift?” (Isn’t that a little boy inside the lift?)

I looked up. I saw Kitty. Tears filled my eyes and I felt weak in the knees. I was thrilled. There was my Kitty, his hand in some lady’s hand. The lift was coming down. I began shouting his name and waving at him. Thankfully he saw me and waved back. Yes God, yes. Thank you Jesus I muttered beneath my breath.

I skidded back to the lift area and stood at the door and when it finally opened, Kitty dived into my arms.


Turns out that the lady who was holding his hand had been standing with us at the lift area and who, thankfully, had been headed to the topmost floor (3rd floor). While in the lift, she’d noticed that Kitty had no guardian with him and appeared confused as people alighted on each floor. Because she had taken notice of us at the lift area where we were all standing together, she suspected we must have disconnected somewhere with him. She then held his hand and after everybody had gotten off their floors, she pressed the lift down and safely delivered him to me. Friends, I tell you angels still exist in this world. They are right here in our Kenya. I thanked her profusely. She was a young lady, about 23 – 25 years old. May the Lord bless her abundantly and may she prosper in all that she does.

So what happened is that as the lifts opened as we were waiting to go down to the basement, most of the people in the waiting area were going up and somehow, Kitty simply followed them in amidst the commotion. It happened to be precisely at that very moment –the two miniscule seconds that my eyes were fixated on Ello and lifting him out of the shopping cart, while my aunt’s attention was on the luggage I was handing over to her, that my Kitty got into the lift. He thought we had gotten in so he simply ‘followed us’ in. Woooiii!

By the way, the entire episode –between losing him and getting him back –happened in just about three minutes though to me it appeared as though it was a whole 24 hours. Those minutes were looong! Weeeh reke ngwire!

For about three days after that, I was like a zombie, scared of venturing out with my sons or if I did, I held their hands all the time. I almost chained them to myself or carried them in my handbag. I spent three days and nights thinking of all the ‘what-ifs’ about the situation. Trust me, I explored all the possible scenarios that could have happened, each time panicking more and more, sweating and drinking mouthfuls of water to relax me.

It’s God, I tell you.


And that is my story of how I lost my son in a shopping mall. Have you or someone you know ever gone through a similar experience? How did it happen? Did it end well?

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Maryanne W. Waweru is a Kenyan mum raising her two sons in Nairobi. A journalist, Maryanne is passionate about telling stories and hopes that through her writing, her readers learn something new, feel encouraged, inspired, and appreciative of what they have in their lives. Maryanne's writing focuses on motherhood, women and lifestyle. "Telling stories is the only thing I know how to do," she says.


  1. Pole…and sooo touching…welcome to the world of parenting….atleast when he grows up…u will have a tale to tell your grandkids….

  2. Sasa kairetu, you describe that feeling so well. On my way back to the UK via Doha I lost my son for what felt like an hour at the Hamad international airport for those of you who’ve passed through that airport you can appreciate how massive that place is…. We were in a queue for baggage checks when one of those airport attendants decided to shift the queue belt thus making our line too long. Bcoz we had time I told the kids let’s go do it on another floor follow me and I literally walked a few steps and waited for them to catch up. But my son who would always get there first was nowhere to be seen! I asked Warona (my daughter) where is Kitso her reply was ‘he was here just now’, aha! my sentiments exactly but where is he now?
    I looked around a little then the mad dash started me running this way and that way and seeing nothing. Soon the shouting followed as I was calling out his name at the top of my voice. keeping in mind this was an airport so you can imagine how panicked the other passengers were but that was the least of my concerns. Even those precious things you pack in your hand luggage I just dumped my bags on the floor coz the need to keep a tight hold on my gal Warona and at the same time find Kitso was too much to bear and yet the bags were only getting in the way.
    Then as if from nowhere, he appeared. He was panicked as well but okay he had had my voice calling him yaani that’s how loud I was or maybe he wasn’t that far more importantly he was okay he hadn’t been kidnapped, fallen down some imaginary gap or being held by some psycho in the male toilets yes the scenarios that go through your head… the tears came. He was apparently following me whilst playing and a a group of what I remember to be a new batch of arrivals just joined the path and he went along with the crowds believing we were just ahead then when they reached a lift or some dead end he figured I could not have gone past without him so he retraced his steps then heard me calling! All this in abt 2 minutes
    NB: When you see me at the airport with not so small children seating on the baggage trolley don’t judge I need to be seeing them and more importantly controlling their movements in that place. Everywhere else the mantra is if we ever get separated for whatever reason stay where we were last tog e.g. if in a shop don’t leave that shop NO MATTER WHAT and stay in the open don’t follow someone to wait for me in an office stay in the shop in the open and mummy will come back for you.

    • Airport? My goodness! I don’t even want to imagine what state you must have been? That is so scary!! Airport??? And that’s a good tip -tell the child to stay where they were last and not to leave. Thanks for sharing Bev.

  3. Remember the moms who got separated from their kids during the Westgate tragedy especially those who were never reunited. Pray for them.

    • Yes, and including the refugee populations in conflict zones in Africa around and around the world -Burundi comes to my mind right now, as well as humanitarian crises such as Syria. It’s devastating even to think about it. We pray for them.

  4. I am glad it all ended well. Thank God for the young lady! My heart had stopped along with yours while reading this! Recently, I was in the toy department at Nakumatt. There was a mum with 2 kids browsing. After a while I see the toddler roaming the aisles mumbling “ma?” with a worried look on her face. I tried to talk to her and take her hand but she was terrified not surprisingly as she knew I wasn’t “ma”. Two minutes later the older sibling comes running and panting. I have had a few scary times of my own, such as disappearing into the aisles of a supermarket, running off and jumping into a pool that one I can swear blood drained from my body lol! or taking off into crowds or into busy streets.

    • Oh my I can only imagine how scary it was for the little girl and her sibling and mum. Supermarkets and shopping malls seem to be common places where we get separated from our kids. What is this about one of yours jumping off and jumping into a pool? Gosh I’m not even sure I’m strong enough to hear about that one.

  5. I once lost my son at a busy expo. One minute I was holding his hand and checking out things, the next he had disappeared. He was 3 years old then. I still remember the panic I felt. Luckily I was able to find him as he kept saying hallo to everyone at each stand so they could recognize him. Right after that I walked into a kids store and bought a child leash and for a very long time I never left the house without it.

  6. Glad it ended well.

    I haven’t had such an experience in a mall but in shaggs i remember my son disappearing for 20 minutes .
    My heart dropped to my feet and my whole body went cold,i stopped thinking…
    Love the tip shared by Bev and the idea of a child leash is great.

  7. I hear you on this. Last Friday, my little girl (20 months) strayed from us at Uchumi Rongai. For the few minutes I couldn’t find her, the world came to a standstill! Nobody had seen her, even the attendants she was earlier playing with. I can’t explain the relief of finally seeing her fat little legs strutting up the ramp confidently headed to the upper floor….and pray what was the little minion looking for;-) the ball she left me paying for at the counter.

    These children, this is one way to grow a grey hair;lets keep them safe.

    • Pole An. How these kids disappear in the twinkling of an eye…it can happen to anybody, even the most hawk-eyed mom. Glad it ended well.

  8. My heart was in my mouth as I read this! Thanking God with you for that young angel who took charge of your son. Also glad to hear of the child leash… will be looking for one the next time I’m in Baby Shop. I’ve also heard about some kind of identity bracelet you can put on your kid with names and phone numbers in case they get lost. I think that would be useful too.

    • Hi Angela thanking God for the angel kabisa. You know, I once heard about identity bracelets way before I became a mum, then at the back of my mind I thought won’t that be a good avenue for child kidnappers? They just call you up and demand ransom or else… But now that you’ve brought it up and going by my personal experience, I’ve thought hmm mm…. I don’t know what other parents think?

  9. I’ve gone through the same experience twice,the first time was in the evening as it was getting dark.I told my then 2yrs old daughter to accompany me to the shop since no one else was in the house.as I was locking the door she went to out of the gate but I kept taking to her calling her nick name and she kept answering and laughing as she was enjoying it then sudenly she went quiet.I called her her name twice while finally the door which was refusing lock have in but she didn’t answer.I rushed outside the gate but alas! she was nowhere to be found on the straight road that despite the dacknrss that was falling in one could see for a distance.I almost went mad with worry ,one thing was clear to me that unless someone had taken her,there’s no way she could have gone that far,she was there one minute and the next she was gone.I was running up and down like a mad woman asking every one I met whether they had seen her but no one had.I was making too much noise that everyone in my plot joined the search but they didn’t know where to look.i went to a kiosk that was next to my plot and there she was comfortably sitting on a chair talking to the owner and her daughter.I was so relieved I cried,I hoped I would never go through that again but it happend again and this time in town but thanks God I found her just a minute before I went completely mad.I now have a phobia I even sometime get worried when she is at school which is completely fenced and has a soldier at the gate
    Its the worst experience for any mother.

    • Gasp!! 😮 😮 I was already panicking for you. Glad it ended well. But I agree. Worst experience ever. Pole dada.

  10. been reading this i fear…We have lost my son twice.. the first time was when he was around 18 months.. My husband and our older girl were taking a nap on the couch. it was a Sunday afternoon. My Jermaine was playing in the living room and my housegirl was outside. all over sudden the house was quiet. And i thought that my son had decided to join my housegirl outside, only for her to return to the house and voila… she is alone.

    Yes, i went crazy… and woke everyone.. Jermaine amepotea. I was checking in places you wouldn’t guess.. karibu niingie kwa oven! When we were all now thinking of plan b ya kuenda police station, hubby decides to pick his shoes from behind the curtains just next to the door and there lying so peacefully with his thumb in his mouth… was our little handsome Jermaine… sleeping and probably dreaming of a candy filled house! the boy had fallen asleep behind the curtains!

    The second time we lost him, he was 3 years old, and we had gone for a picnic at ‘PARADISE LOST’ … yeah. He disappeared for 15 minutes, and i died for those 15 minutes… he later appeared with two beautiful ladies who had found him roaming around asking for daddy and mum. I thank God for keeping our babies safe. and thank you for the tips.

    • Wooiiii Pamela pole, I feel you on that ‘I died for 15 minutes’ weeeh! Those emotions are no joke. Thank God for the two beautiful ladies who found him and kept him safe. As for the time he was behind the curtain asleep…hehe…


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