Over in Great Britain, now that the Queen's Jubilee is just a soggy memory, the press is all worked up about how Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife left their young daughter "down the pub" after a Sunday outing. They had come in two cars and each group thought she was with the other as they headed home to Number 10.
She was discovered in the restroom and rightly returned.
They've tried to make it a metaphor for how he's handling the country. Others have taken up the class angle, noting the Camerons' poshness, snarking that the middle class routinely leave their kids at the pub, except in the parking lot with a can of pop. All day.
No matter how you see it, upon reading the account, I only felt an immense sense of commiseration. See, even the leader of England has left his kid somewhere, I tell my son.
"Sure Mom, you're in good company", was the general but smirking response.
But I'll never live it down.
Back when the kids were little, we were in the habit of hitting the video store for movies quite regularly. Sometimes they both went with me, other times it would me only my daughter. When the two of them accompanied me, my son's routine was to head straight for the free video games while my daughter and I chose the movie. We'd pay for the video and drag him from the game and make our way the mile or so home.
Like those times when you arrive home but can't remember the car trip there, these journeys all blurred together after awhile. One day when we pulled into the driveway coming home I noticed a few huge weeds that had sprung up. My daughter went into the house while I stopped in the garden and started pulling weeds. One weed led to another, and another. Thirty minutes later she came out of the house and asked me where her brother was.
It was the scream heard round the neighborhood. People out and about in their yards and walking their dogs all stared in my direction. It had just dawned on me that I'd left my 7 year-old at the video store.
I've always been the one pushing the bike helmets, the skating pads, the seat belts, the side airbags, etc. I've been told at times I'm "too responsible". I am the older mom who knows I don't get any more chances at children and will do her damnedest to make sure the kids are ok. Over-protective? Perhaps.
So imagine my shame when I have to call Blockbuster in a sweaty panic and ask if my little boy is there, because, yes, I forgot him. I knew I deserved the sneering sound of judgment coming over the phone from the teenage video clerk. I ask them to make sure he stayed put until I returned. But it was a busy evening and they didn't get the chance or bother.
On the mad dash over there I pictured my precious baby stumbling up the busy street crying, wondering why his mother had suddenly abandoned him. All I could think about was his horrible sense of direction, and hope he wasn't wandering the wrong direction and all the scenarios of certain doom playing in my head.
Fortunately I found him right where I left him, playing the video game. Completely oblivious to the fact we had gone home without him.