Friday, May 21, 2010

Babysitter of the Year: The Revenge

There's an IKEA store about forty minutes away from where I live. It opened a couple of years ago, and even though my friend's wife works there, and I hear all sorts of magical stories about the wonders to be had there, I've never had reason to go there before.

But my sister moved into a new apartment recently, and my mom wanted to buy a thing or two, so they asked if I wanted to go to IKEA with them. Jonathan Coulton's song made it sound romantic, plus they were bringing The Child (who I delight in being around), so I agreed.

But the child refused to stay in the cart, and even refused to be held while someone else pushed the cart. No, the boy wanted to run, and run free, free to destroy Nordic furnishings and imitate the legions of snot-nosed ragamuffins climbing on or under the items on display.

I can't really blame him. I remember going places where everyone coupled off and seeing wandering hands and groping tongues every direction I looked and wailing, "When is it my turn? Why can't I be one of those awkward, fumbling hedonists?" My nephew felt the same way, and didn't find it fair to be confined to the cart when others roamed loose.

But every time I'd put him down, he'd run around, out of control, and try to escape our vile clutches.

Well, after a while, I started getting tired of this. It didn't help that the labyrinthine passages of IKEA were so immense that I stumbled across a couple of skeletons, and once encountered some shoppers that, hopeless of finding their way out, had resorted to cannibalism. But by the time it was finally our turn to leave, I couldn't deal with the child's sugar-fueled antics. After chasing him to Aisle 13, Row 6, I finally spanked the boy. Well, he began to wail, and my sister seemed to think I was way out of line. She scooped up the boy and shot me eye daggers as she did her best to comfort him.

Instead of getting angry about it, I decided I'd focus on getting us out of there. Stepping over minotaur spoor, I pushed our cart/trolley thing to one of those self-checkouts, and concentrated on ringing everything up. As the receipt at last fed out into my waiting hands, my sister asked where the boy was. I will admit that my first inclination was to say, "I don't care," but I chose the barely-superior, "I don't know, you were watching him."

Well, she had stopped watching him at some point, and he wasn't with us anymore. I suppressed the desire to say, "See, this is why I spanked him," but instead pushed the cart/trolley toward the doors, where, out in the parking lot, I saw the tiny form of my nephew running with all of his might. "Crap," I said, pointing, "He's out there."

Well, my sister ran out after him, and I went through the lengthy queue of getting our purchases out of the building. When I got outside, there was a stranger holding my nephew. Apparently, this stranger had seen the lad high-tailing it into traffic and had scooped him up and brought him back to the store.

My mom and my sister were pretty upset about it (though my mom less so, since she went through about a thousand nightmare scenarios having me as a child), and I felt ashamed at my hand in losing the boy,* imagining him getting run over or lost or grabbed by a dude in a van and that sort of thing. And whether I've pointed the blame in my direction in this post or not, I most assuredly would've blamed myself had something bad happened with the child on that day.

It's weird how things like that work, too. Because nothing really bad came of it, everybody's already pretty much forgotten the experience, and the boy is free to run around at the next place they take him. Human nature, I suppose.

Rish "Nephew's Keeper" Outfield

*Though it wouldn't be the last time; since starting this blog entry, I lost the boy at the mall and my uncle notified Security before I found him hiding from me inside a cosmetics store. To him, it was all a game. Hmmm. I wonder if I would be happier if I viewed life that way.

1 comment:

Jeff said...

When the kids were young this used to happen a lot to us, especially with Duncan who once ran bare-ass naked through a Walmart for 20 minutes before someone corralled him. It bothered me to no end, but Em just sort of shrugged it off every time choosing to give in rather than worry about it. It finally got to the point that she wouldn't take both the kids and me shopping unless she absolutely had to.