It all started with a trip to the mall.
One of the things mothers of many hafta do is take them to a mall. It’s not that we want to go to a mall, (at least, I never do) it’s just an essential task.
This particular trip involved a stroller, not because Moo didn’t have the endurance to walk the mall, but because Moo is one of those child escape artists.
Yes, it’s true. I have one of those kids.
The Back Story:
When Bubba and Sissy came to be mine, they were four and six. While they occasionally ran to a particularly exciting display of candy or pajamas, they didn’t see the mall as a place to conquer. I assumed they were beyond the age of needing a leash.
I was wrong. The older children did not outgrow this, they were not taught to stay near, they simply weren’t inclined to leave adults and wander out into the abyss of strangers.
Sassy was the same way.
So I was completely unprepared for an errant child. Like you, I thought those children belonged to parents who had failed somehow. I clucked my tongue at people who put their kids on leashes, thinking some discipline would be more helpful.
When Moo was two, I let her walk in Target. She disappeared in a flash. One moment, she was right there, the next moment, she was gone.
You should have seen the looks I got for losing my kid in Target. Oh the disapproval was fierce! If I hadn’t been overwrought with fear, I would have stopped to verbally assault those strangers.
In a jiffy, we found Moo in the jewelry, trying on ALL the beaded necklaces.
I put her in the cart and strapped her in.
Allowing her that brief walking experience, meant that the next few trips in a cart were followed by wailing and screaming, “No Mama, No! No! I walk! I walk! Out! Out! Down! Down!” This was also met with much disapproval, and one woman who said, “Aw, Mom, let her walk! She wants to walk.”
“No, she wants to run around the store, get lost, break everything, and get abducted by a stranger.”
The woman laughed. I still don’t like that bitch. And I never forget a face.
This wanderlust Moo has is unlimited.
I lost Sissy once, when I thought she was outside. I hollered for her and she didn’t come. I went back inside and hollered there. My hollering turned to jagged fits of tears and howling, which prompted her emergence from the bathroom, scared to death.
“Were you in the bathroom?”
“Oh my God, you were just in the bathroom?!?”
“You scared me to death!”
I clutched Sissy so long and hard, it terrified her so much that for about three years, she announced every trip she made to the bathroom.
Other than that, I never lost the first three children. Oh sure, they broke their boundaries or lovingly forgot to tell me that they were going to a teenage Jell-o Twister orgy or whatever, but no one ever had to send a search party.
But I’ve lost Moo more times than I can count. She’s not only prone to desertion, but is also incredibly small, flexible, strong, fast, fearless and yes, able to leap buildings in a single bound.
When she was two, I went upstairs to put some towels away. In the time it takes to do that, Moo went outside to enjoy the cool wet weather, where she stood in the street, dancing and swaying, wearing only her pink training panties, still eating peanut butter from a spoon.
By the time she was school-aged, you’d think she’d be more careful. No.
She meant to tell me she left Jayleigh’s house to go to Mia’s house, to go to Tristian’s house to go back to Mrs. Tully’s house, but she never told me.
She forgot to tell me that while she was in the back yard playing with her bubbles, Robert and his friend came by and she had to go play ball with them instead.
“Can I go to the park?” actually meant, “Can I go to the park four blocks from here, and not the one across the street?”
I go on field trips, not because I’m a stay-home mother who likes to be “involved” but because I know no one else is going to look for Moo in the top of the pecan tree, or swimming naked with the penguins…
She has never stopped roaming off.
She is ten.
It is not for lack of discipline.
It is the unbridled spirit of adventure or someshit.
Sometimes, we are all in the house, and it’s too quiet. This means Moo is not in the house, or that she is gluing dried lentils to the inside of her closet, or whatever. The important part is that my mothering aspect tells me somethin is very, very wrong, and she yells out, “WHERE’S THE BABY?!?”
The Mall Incident:
So we had all taken turns pushing little Moo all over the mall. A few times, she was permitted to walk while holding a hand, but still, it was my responsibility to maintain a visual on the baby while we tried to acquire our clothing items.
Shopping with small children is not a spectator sport.
If you have anxiety disorder, taking four kids to the mall during your husband’s fifteen-month deployment is fairly agonizing.
As we neared the end of the shopping trip, I realized Moo was missing. I stopped, in the middle of the mall, in one of those sunny spots under a skylight, where everyone in the entire mall could see me clearly, and I shouted in a frightened voice, “WHERE’S THE BABY?!?”
I sought out information in each child’s face. My children all stared at me with confusion. Finally, the boy one pointed to Moo.
She was in the stroller.
That I was pushing.
Great, riotous laughter ensued at my expense.
I said, “We’ll talk about it when you have four kids.”
And that’s why, every time I don’t know where Moo is, they taunt me by mocking me, “WHERE’S THE BABY?!?”