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Childhood lesson

I THINK I was a pretty good kid when I was growing up as my mother invariable chose me to accompany her whenever she visited some good friends. It could also be because she could leave me beside their bookcase and find me still sitting there engrossed in a book, a couple of hours later. There was no need to go looking for me or to frantically search the neighbourhood in case I had wandered off  like my brother or sister were often wont to do.

I will admit I wasn’t always ‘good’ (this post will self-destruct after you’ve read it, simply to protect the innocent, aka yours truly) and there were several occasions when I got into hot water but meh, those are other stories and we don’t have time for them now.

I’m not sure why but my mother would also take me with her when she shopped. This story covers one of the times when I went on one of the shopping expeditions. My mother was a fast walker and she was good at manoeuvring through the crowds and my seven year old legs were expected to keep up with her, despite being half her height and the size of a stick insect.

Like any kid, I could easily be distracted and no doubt, that was what happened one day when I was rushing along beside her. I turned around to find her gone and I still distinctly recall being alarmed at the sea of adults moving in both directions. All I could see from an adult’s waist height were the throng of handbags, shopping bags, bicycles, canes, parcels and walking legs. Frantically looking up, I glimpsed sky and bobbing heads and nowhere was my pretty mother with her wavy hair and slim and straight posture and, and, and …. tears started to well up in my eyes.

I stood still and to this day, marvel that I wasn’t knocked over by the continuously moving crowd. Standing forlornly, I imagined I would never see my mother again. My voice failed me as it often does when I’m overwhelmed, distressed or afraid, so I couldn’t even call out for her.  Anxiously twisting the skirt part of my dress, I moved forward with the crowd and searched for her.

The longer it took and no doubt, every second appeared to be longer, the more panicked I became. Imagining that she was miles away and blissfully unaware that I was not beside her, my thoughts turned to home! How would I get home? Which direction was home? How far away were we from it? I didn’t even have money to buy anything, let alone pay for transportation.

Fresh tears welled up in my eyes and this time, I let out a fearful sob. It took me a few seconds to realise someone had addressed me and looking up through the blur of tears, I saw my mother’s face looking down at me angrily. I can still picture her flushed look and her furrowed brows. Not one to make a scene, she spoke to me with her face a few inches from mine and in a low but cross manner. Snatching my hand and squeezing it hard, she led me through the crowd at an even more furious pace. I recall having to run beside her while feeling suitably chastened and ashamed.

I learnt only recently that she had been aware all along that I had turned around to gaze at some distraction and had waited a few seconds before deciding to teach me a lesson. All along, she had hidden in a shop doorway but had been watching me and ensuring that I was still in her sight.

© Wendy Robinson 2014

We enjoy warmth because we have been cold. We appreciate light because we have been in darkness. By the same token, we can appreciate joy because we have known sadness. ~ Anon

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Comments on: "Childhood lesson" (3)

  1. Gerry OConnor said:

    That must have really scared you.  A childhood lesson indeed. Kids do get distracted and tend to lose sight of their parents or elders when going out with them.   Always hold the hands of your elders when going to crowded areas.!   Here, I have seen a couple of mothers holding a ‘leach” tied to the young kid’s hand, this way, to ensure they cannot stray away – the leach will keep them in tow !  Good idea !

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  2. Oh dear – – how come this posting of yours never showed up in my reader? The last thing I’ve received from you is the post on your daughter’s driver’s license. Well, anyhow – – I came to your blog to check up on you and found this delightful story. I must confess that I’ve done this before with my son and wouldn’t ya know? I can stand hidden behind somewhere, peeking out at him for twenty minutes (or more!) and he would be completely oblivious to “being lost.” No lesson has ever been taught that way for me with him! Boys!

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    • My daughter was exactly like your son. My mother only confessed to her ruse when I talked about my then 3 year old daughter wandering away without a care in the world. Like you, I watched her from a distance, hoping she would panic and look for me. The little minx spent 15 minutes (I timed her) gazing at a shop window and then wandered off across the mall to another shop and spent another 10 minutes there. I finally crept up and gave her a tap on the bottom, which didn’t phase her in the least bit. So much for teaching her a lesson! Oddly enough, she learnt a lesson on her own not long after, when she ran off towards the mall entrance straight into the arms of a homeless man. He grinned down at her with blackened and missing teeth and tried to hold her. She raced back to me with terror in her eyes. I laughed inwardly while I comforted her. It did not quite cure her wandering ways but it did prevent her from running far from me. Girls!! 🙂 Did you get my response to your last comment?

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