When Toddlers Go Bad…..

I shared a story recently of my first experience of toddler shoplifting. I was queueing at a till when Tom spied and grabbed some baby sunglasses (I understand the concept of impulse buying, but why, OH WHY, do shops put so many grabbables and sugar at toddler-height at the tills?? You won’t make us buy it, but our kids might steal it, so this is lose/ LOSE retailers). I took the glasses out of his hand, put them back, dealt with the tears, paid for my purchases and left.

But as I took Tom out of his buggy at home, I saw the glasses were back in his tiny, thieving hands!

I have no idea how he pulled this grand larceny off, and was almost as impressed as I was mortified.

But that was only the start of my toddler adventures over the last fortnight. I am constantly heading into so many ‘firsts’, Tom being my only child. I know many of you will be all too familiar with these sorry tales, having multiple children, but I’m sure you all remember the first and the learning curve that came with every phase.

We were collecting something from a department store, and took the lift to the second floor. Tom was out of his buggy and shot out of the lift like a little bat out of hell. In front of us was a great wall of underwear (the other side of which I couldn’t see) and as he ran around it, I followed with the buggy and heard a roar “WHERE IS YOUR MUMMY!!”. As I cleared the Great Wall of Pants, I saw Tom had run straight towards an escalator. I had no idea it was there, and thankfully A) it was going up, not down (or he could have fallen head first down it) and B) the roar was an older woman who had grabbed him before he could make the first step. She was enraged with me, but when she saw my face crumple, she softened, and I thanked her for grabbing hold of him. Tom? Well, he just screamed at the injustice of it all and the fact that he’d been robbed of yet another moving staircase experience.

It feels to me that a Mum’s first time with a toddler is nothing but a series of near-misses.

A string of almost-accidents or minor mishaps that make your heart drop into your stomach like a rock, and wake you up with the fear at 4am (like we have nothing else to worry about at that time of night). Some are amusing, others terrifying, but they all make you vow that nothing like that will ever happen again….. until it does.

That’s why I never judge when I read about terrible accidents that happen to some families — life-altering calamities that happened when a tired parent looked away for a second or was distracted. Unless there was any suggestion of neglect, I think with empathy and relief, “there but for the grace of God”.

Or in my recent case, there but for older ladies in shops who aren’t afraid of grabbing someone else’s child.

Originally published at themword.ie on August 1, 2017.