When we had just two kids and monetary times were a lot better, we would take the odd trip to a shopping centre. I loved it. A one stop shop with a lovely cappuccino and a free chocolate for the car on the way home.
If I was lucky, I might pick up a new book, something frivolous, maybe some clothes but always, without fail, something for the lads to wear. Or even a small toy.
These places are quite busy as I am sure you’re aware. But it was always our habit to go early. That way we would be ready to leave when the centre started filling up with the afternoon shoppers.
When I say it was our habit, I really mean we most likely would have been up since 4am and were chomping at the bit to get away.
And because the drive up would take forty minutes or a little bit more, I always felt guilty at strapping the walking boy into a buggy for a couple of hours when we arrived at our destination.
So I would let him walk. Which meant I couldn’t relax at all. He liked to run ahead and while there was no real chance of him disappearing from view, I still couldn’t relax.
He also had a habit of crawling along the floors in the shops and hiding under the rails of clothes.
So I decided it was time to have the “what if you get lost” chat with him. He was only four and a half and I wanted to do it without frightening the life out of him.
I started it off nice and slow. Got him all comfortable and relaxed with a Happy Meal before throwing him the first curve ball of his tender years.
Me: “Conor, what would you do if we got separated in a shop? How would you find me?” Yeah, that was nice and innocuous. I popped a skinny fry (size wise not diet wise) into my mouth and reached nonchalantly for another one.
Conor: “I’d turn into a superhero, Mammy and grow a long arm and swing up to the roof and find you.”
Hhmmmm. Time to change tactics.
Me: “No, Conor, if you got lost and couldn’t find me. I was gone. Home. You. Are. By. Yourself. Who would you ask for help?”
Conor: “I told ya, Mammy. I’d turn into a superhero and……….”
Me: “But, Con, say you left your superhero powers at home. How would you find me then? As you. Not Superhero Conor? Just Conor?”
Conor: “Then I’d turn into Fast Runner coz he can run fast as the wind and I would run home. All by myself.”
I left it. Gave it up as a lost cause.
On his planet he could morph at will into a Superhero of his making.
I settled instead for the cappuccino and free chocolate on the way home.