I Lost London :: Yes, You Read That RightWednesday, October 19, 2016
It has been a busy couple of weeks. I’ve had plenty to write about but haven’t had the ambition it took to sit down and type. Plus, the laptop is broken and looking at the screen for longer than necessary is not high on my “want to” list.
Today, though, I drop this poor thing off at the Apple store for repairs and figured I should spend a little time with her before she’s gone. So, here’s a story for you. It’s a story of terrible parenting and bad shopping trips. It’s an embarrassing story for me…but perhaps and encouraging one for you. Because, despite what you might think about your own life, there’s always someone out there running wild in search of a wayward toddler—heart pounding, hot tears in their eyes, and curse words on their lips.
Courage, dear heart.
Okay. London LOVES Target. I’m not joking. When she sees that big, beautiful red circle on the building, she squeals with delight, “HOME!” Yep. Home. She then erases the pure joy and puts on her “I-Mean-Business” face and says very seriously, “I get my shipping cart. Let’s do this!”
If you really need to get some shopping done, it is best not to take London with you to Target because the trip will become only about her and her needs and her wants. You won’t be able to look at body wash and toothpaste. She will march you straight back to the toddler girl’s clothing and proceed to pick out new shoes. She will kick her shoes off her feet and change right there in the store. But, as it turns out, this doesn’t hold true to only shoes. If you buy her a new outfit, she will also proceed to strip naked right there in the store, Target employees averting their eyes and snickering at your misfortune to have this child. She will demand, LOUDLY, to put those clothes on. Her daddy will oblige and pull on a complete new outfit and explain to her that she can’t pull the tags off because we will have to run her entire body over the scan at the checkout.
I’m not exaggerating, folks.
Not even a little…
And I really wish I were.
On this particular trip, big brother also decides he wants to wear his new sweater out of the store. I mean, London is doing it, so.....?
It’s late. We’re tired. I want out of the store and away from the snickering Target employees. “Let’s check out,” I order, guiding all my ragamuffins towards the front of the store where London wants to touch and play with everything at the checkout. I decide that I will take her outside while daddy checks out. Quickly, we run London over the scans, beeping every tag that’s dangling off of her. I start to walk off with London but Roger calls me back to give him the wallet. I turn around for TWO seconds, folks. TWO SECONDS!!!
And London is gone.
I run out of the store and search the dark parking lot and can’t find her.
I run back inside and look through that dollar bins where she usually (and slowly) looks over every single item. She’s not there.
I check the area of the bathrooms and the snack area. She’s not there.
I run back outside. She’s still not there. (I don't know why I checked the parking lot again...but I guess it was the scariest place for her to escape to.)
And I cannot understand why it is taking Roger so very long to pay!
Hot tears are in my eyes. My heart is pounding. Rage is building up in me…
Which begs me to ask, “Why, in all our unfettered panic, do mothers get so very angry? And who are we angry at?
We are angry at ourselves.
So I round the corner and see London way down the isle. There is an older woman herding her with her shopping cart. She keeps gently pushing London along, refusing to touch her. There’s a confused Target employee helping them, asking her where her mommy is. London stops and the woman pushes her with the cart a little more. I hear London say, “But…I need my toys.” That’s where she had been heading. The toy isle.
Blast that isle!
And this is when the scene becomes painfully, and hilariously, clear to me.
London is standing there as sweet and precious as can be. Her hands are folded in front of her and she pouts a little each time the woman nudges her along with her shopping cart. She has a tag hanging off every item of clothing she’s wearing from the top of her head to her shoes. Not only that, but the sweater is clearly on her backwards! COME ON, DAD!
The woman looks up and pins her accusing eyes on me. I wave my hand. Guilty. London sees me and averts her eyes. “She’s mine,” I say. “I’m the horrible mother that lost my baby girl.” I don’t want to hear what the woman says, so I quickly scoop up London and whisper in her ear, “You made me cry!”
“Is okay, mommy…” She gently pats my cheek with understanding. I guess that's understanding. Maybe a patronizing, "There, there."
I march quickly up to the front of the store where I see Roger standing at the service desk. “Excuse me, ma’am,” he’s saying. “My two year old ran away while I was paying.”
“Oh, dear Jesus!” The adorable employee gasps, snatching up the phone. “We have a code yellow!”
But I’m marching past the scene and seething. “No. She is right here. Let’s get out of here, please?”
Then, I notice the older two children aren’t with their dad. They’ve run off to look for their baby sister.
I roll my eyes. My body is still shaking with fear. I stand outside with London and wait five minutes for Roger to find his other children. Yes, "his." In that moment, I am mentally pinning all the blame on Roger and being unreasonably angry at him and everyone else under the sun.
Finally, we all pile into the van, price tags flapping in the night breeze…
I want to laugh, but I can’t. I won’t. I want everyone to understand how very displeased I am. Roger eventually reaches over and takes my hand and gives it a little squeeze. I know he wants to laugh too. But he won’t…
Because he is scared I will devour him up in one bite.
And I would. Believe me.
So, there you have it, friends.
This is me. This is life. This is the adventure of being a wayward member of this Cooper Clan.
So, chin up and suck it up, Buttercup.
Life is still good. But if you every see a curly head mop wondering around Target with price tags hanging off her…look for me.