As a lost child myself, there are few things at the library that rip my heart out like a lost child. Frozen, dazed, full of quiet despair, one can read all this emotion spinning off of lost children as they stand bewildered and suddenly alone in the universe. We bring them to the front desk of the library. We talk in hushed, focused tones, stooping way down to that two foot level.
"Do you know your mom's name?" I ask.
They nod their head, emotion coiled, wound tightly up in them, but nevertheless spilling out of every pore.
"What is it?" I ask gently.
"sprinnglobertilix" they whisper, almost audibly.
I lean closer. "What was that?"
"frinbloterbilix" they say with slightly more clarity.
"Frinbloterbilix?" I ask.
They nod their head. I got it perfectly in one, yet strangely I am not confident it is the right name to announce over the intercom. With no other options though I figure I'll give it a go.
Usually by this point I am spared from having to make the gobbledygook announcement by the arrival of the parent. The child rushes towards the parent, freed from the company of total strangers.
We shall not here venture too far down the path of my contention that parents, rather than money, are the root of all evil. We will restrain ourselves to this one particular point: it is never the child's fault that they were lost. It is always the parent's (or guardian's) fault. There are no exceptions.
What does this mean? It means that the parent, upon being reunited with their child, owes that child one, sincere, heartfelt, and reassuring apology. An apology. A real one. In my experience this apology happens about two percent of the time. And so, I'm afraid, the world is explained.