One mom shared a story with me about being in the grocery store with her four kids—the youngest still a toddler—and how her nerves nearly reached a breaking point. She had just heard a news report of a child being abducted from a mall, so she was anxious about hauling all her kids through the store while still trying to concentrate on her grocery list. She handed out instructions like a drill sergeant before they got out of the car: “Keep one hand on the cart at all times, don’t wander off, and don’t talk to strangers!” As they headed to the checkout line, she felt a surge of panic. Where was Addy? She wasn’t in the cart! Had she climbed out? She said she screamed to her seven-year-old: “Where’s your sister? Where’s Addy?!” Her seven-year-old looked at her evenly and replied, “Mom, she’s sitting on your hip.”
In her panic she had forgotten she had picked the baby up out of the cart several minutes ago when she was crying. Addy, at that moment, was completely nonplussed as she sat on her mom’s hip, chewing nonchalantly on her sunglasses, totally oblivious as to why her mom was screaming. My friend said she felt limp with relief, but also a little concerned about her own mental health.
Another mom shared a story about picking her daughter up from daycare to learn she had bitten another child. What?My child is not a biter! she thought. She was even more horrified when her daughter later bit a baby right on the head, right in front of her eyes. As she drove home crying, embarrassed, and ashamed of her daughter’s behavior, her thoughts took her to the extremes of her child forever being a social outcast, where no school would take her, and having to be placed in a special facility for children who couldn’t control themselves. They would have to drop out of church, and she would have to quit her job because she couldn’t leave her daughter alone. This was going to affect the whole family! In just a matter of minutes, her thoughts had taken her to quite a panicky place.1